Tithing is an extremely controversial topic.
There are sooooo many people who are for it and so many against it.
But look at this:
If you go to Google Trends and type in “Tithing,” this is what you will get:
Also, if you go to Google Keyword Planner (the tool used to discover the volume of a certain keyword), you’ll see tithing gets up to 100,000 searches a month!
And of course, if you type “tithing” into trusty Google, you’ll see reasons TO tithe and reasons NOT TO tithe on the front page:
The truth is this:
There are advantages and disadvantages to tithing. This article is going to delve into both.
Let’s get started.
Here’s a nice bookmark if you wanted to jump ahead:
- Advantage of Tithing: You Get to Test God
- Advantage of Tithing: It Teaches Prioritization
- Advantage of Tithing: It’s Good For Overall Health
- Advantage of Tithing: It Helps With an “Abundance” Mindset
- Disadvantage of Tithing: You Will Initially Have Less Money
- Disadvantage of Tithing: There is NO Guarantee of Increase
- Disadvantage of Tithing: It Opens You Up to Church/Pastoral Abuse
Advantages of Tithing
My life was radically changed by a “tithing experiment.”
So, what are the ADVANTAGES of tithing?
Advantage of Tithing: You Get to TEST God
There is so much discussion on whether tithing is an Old Testament or New Testament thing. You’re probably having that discussion right now!
When you read the Bible, you see a common theme: God doesn’t like to be tested.
You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested Him at Massah.Deuteronomy 6:16
The whole Israelite community left the Desert of Sin and traveled from place to place, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water there for the people to drink. So they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why are you testing the Lord?” But the people were very thirsty for water, so they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Was it to kill us, our children, and our farm animals with thirst?” So Moses cried to the Lord, “What can I do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me to death.”Exodus 17:1-4
But the people continued to sin against Him; in the desert they turned against God Most High. They decided to test God by asking for the food they wanted. Then they spoke against God, saying, “Can God prepare food in the desert? When he hit the rock, water poured out and rivers flowed down. But can he give us bread also? Will he provide his people with meat?” When the Lord heard them, he was very angry. His anger was like fire to the people of Jacob; his anger grew against the people of Israel. They had not believed God and had not trusted Him to save them. But He gave a command to the clouds above and opened the doors of heaven. He rained manna down on them to eat; He gave them grain from heaven. So they ate the bread of angels. He sent them all the food they could eat.Psalms 78:17-39
I think you get the point.
But when it comes to tithing, God sings a different tune:
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in My Temple. If you do,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!“Malachi 3:10
Tithing is a great opportunity to test God, and He won’t be mad about it!
Advantages of Tithing: It Teaches Prioritization/Budgeting
Before I started tithing, I put no priority with money.
When I started tithing, I learned to pay God first. After that, the question was “Who’s next?”
It taught me how to prioritize my money.
There was a famous tither who benefited as well: one John D. Rockefeller!
Over time, John D. Rockefeller’s philanthropy equated to hundreds of millions of dollars (billion adjusted for inflation)…
…and he did this because he learned how to give at an early age.
His giving began with his first job as a clerk at age 16. By the time he was 20, his giving exceeded 10% of his income.
Rockefeller was always under the belief that his success was divinely inspired. He once said emphatically:
“God gave me my money!”
Why did God single John D. Rockefeller out for stupendous wealth? Rockefeller believed it was because he was a good steward. In his 70s, he said:
“It has seemed as if I was favored and got increase because the Lord knew I was going to turn it around and give it back.”
But tithing was also instrumental in him learning how to handle money. Even his biographer noted how the practice of tithing aided a lot of “would be” businessmen:
In other words, one of the advantages of tithing was teaching the tither how to do MORE with LESS!
But check this out:
There was a landmark study of 5,444 tithers and non-tithers. The study found that tithers were better off financially than their non-tithing counterparts.
According to the author:
“People that follow biblical principles of giving also are much more likely to be wiser and more careful in their spending…It is important in preaching and teaching on finances and generosity to help people realize that generosity leads to greater financial freedom and stability, while not giving frequently leads to greater indebtedness and financial bondage.”
The late bilionaire Sir. John Templeton had this to say about tithing and money management:
“I have observed 100,000 families over my years of investment counseling. I always saw greater prosperity and happiness among those families who tithed than among those who didn’t.”
Again: tithers know how to do MORE with LESS!
Advantage of Tithing: It’s Good For Overall Health
According to studies giving has been linked to improved life satisfaction and measurements of health. For instance giving creates a response in the brain that mimics the release of endorphins and dopamines.
Endorphins are chemicals produced by the nervous system to cope with pain or stress. They’re called “feel-good” chemicals because they can act as a pain reliever and happiness booster.
Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter and it plays a role in how we feel pleasure.
As a result when we give away money and time we experience greater satisfaction in life than those who don’t.
The physical benefits to giving are the following:
- Lower blood pressure
- Increased self-esteem
- Less depression
- Lower stress levels
- Longer life
- Greater happiness
Those are pretty big advantages to tithing.
The effects of giving on the brain are called the “helper’s high.” Check out this video regarding it:
I think Jesus knew what He was talking about when He said:
It is more blessed to give than to receive.Acts 20:35 KJV
Advantage of Tithing: It Creates an “Abundance Mindset”
In the study “I Give, Therefore I Have: Giving and Subjective Wealth” by Zoe Chance of Yale University and Michael Norton of Harvard Business School, it was observed that giving away money psychologically increases the giver’s “sense of wealth.”
In other words:
If I’m giving money away, I must be prosperous!”
In fact, according to the authors of the study:
How wealthy one feels is a function of objective and subjective inputs: current wealth level, income and expectations, gains and losses compared to a reference point, one’s position in a wealth distribution, and psychological traits and states.
As such, subjective wealth is mal-leable and may not always move in the same direction as objective wealth; our studies show that charitable donations–which decrease objective wealth–can increase feelings of subjective wealth.
The Importance of an Abundance Mindset
The late Dr. Stephen Covey in his classic 7 Habits of Highly Effective People defined the differences between an abundance mentality and scarcity mentality:
The Scarcity Mentality is the zero-sum paradigm of life. People with a Scarcity Mentality have a very difficult time sharing recognition and credit, power or profit—even with those who help in the production. They also have a hard time being genuinely happy for the success of other people.
The Abundance Mentality, on the other hand, flows out of a deep inner sense of personal worth or security. It is the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody. It results in the sharing of prestige, recognition, profits and decision-making. It opens possibilities, options, alternatives and creativity.
In other words, people with a scarcity mentality see a small pie with not enough for everyone. Therefore, they must hoard to keep their slice. People with an abundance mentality see more than enough and, therefore, feel wealthy, can share, and are grateful.
The abundance mentality is a great advantage of tithing. Tony Robbins shares an interesting story about it:
Advantage of Tithing: It Increases Wealth
In John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, the character Old Honest poses this riddle to the innkeeper Gaius:
“A man there was, tho’ some did count him mad, / The more he cast away, the more he had.”
Gaius solved the riddle:
“He that bestows his Goods upon the Poor / Shall have as much again, and ten times more.”
Remember, we said that when 5,444 tither and non-tithers were studied, tithers were better off financially than their non tithing counterparts.
Well, it’s from a spiritial AND natural standpoint.
Tithing IS seen as a joke, hoax, and con, but in Jewish culture, it’s a little different.
In Jewish culture, tithing is considered an ancient formula for becoming wealthy. In the Talmud, it says:
“Aser bedevil shetisasher” or “Tithe so that you will become rich” (Taanit 9a)
In other words, tithing is a partnership between the giver and God. The giver partners with God in helping the world, and God partners with the giver in business affairs.
In fact, when the Bible speaks about the tithe, it uses the Hebrew word “maaser”(pronounced mah-as-ayr‘). It’s used 32 times in the Old Testament.
English is read left to right; Hebrew is read right to left.
The Hebrew language is a language of root words. Prefixes and suffixes are added to build on the meaning of the root word.
So, in this word, the first letter mem (מ) conveys changing a verb into the noun of that word.
Image Courtesy of Joseph Prince Minstries
For example: adding mem “to preach” (verb) turns it into “preacher” (noun).
Now, taking away mem (מ) from “maaser,” we’re left with “aser,” which means “rich.”
In Jewish culture, there is a correlation between a giver and their level of prosperity.
So, another way of interpreting this is “The rich is in the tithe.”
Or with “maaser”:
“The one tithing becomes rich.”
But check this out:
God has made some ABUNDANT PROMISES to people who are givers:
[Remember] this: he who sows sparingly and grudgingly will also reap sparingly and grudgingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to someone] will also reap generously and with blessings.
And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation].
Let each one [give] as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves (He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, “prompt to do it”) giver [whose heart is in his giving]. [Prov. 22:9.]
As it is written, He [the benevolent person] scatters abroad; He gives to the poor; His deeds of justice and goodness and kindness and benevolence will go on and endure forever! [Ps. 112:9.] And [God] Who provides seed for the sower and bread for eating will also provide and multiply your [resources for] sowing and increase the fruits of your righteousness [which manifests itself in active goodness, kindness, and charity].
(2 Corinthians 9:7-11 AMPC)
That’s from the spiritual aspect. Now let’s deal with the natural.
The Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey — completed in 2000 — is a survey of about 30,000 people in more than 40 communities across the U.S. It measured the giving habits of Americans. They found that people became wealthier when they gave.
Check this out:
Let’s say there were two identical families, and the only difference was that one family gave $100 more than the second. That first family would earn $375 more.
They found that more giving didn’t just correlate with higher income; it CAUSED higher income.
Here’s another one: Tyler Ward decided to put giving to the test. He and his wife put 8–15% of their paychecks into a special bank account. The money in this account was then given to needs, causes, churches, or an occasional act of kindness throughout the month.
With the help of personal finance app, he tracked incoming and outgoing money. He found that his ROI was 610%. For every $1 he gave $6.10 of unexpected income came back.
Based on spiritual and natural evidence, you stand a greater chance of propsering when you tithe!
The Disadvantages of Tithing
Just like there are advantages to tithing there are also disadvantages. It’d be wrong to not give you an objective view on both.
So, lets get started with that!
Disadvantage of Tithing: You Will Initially Have Less Money
There are a lot of tithing stories where people gave by faith, and INSTANTLY, they got a “money breakthrough!” I mean, they gave their tithe at 9am and 5pm, God had doubled or even tripled it!
That was not the case for me.
When God initially started talking to me about consistently tithing, I was out of work and on unemployment. In fact, He was talking to me even earlier, but I was not listening.
I. did. not. want. to. hear. it.
That being said, I considered the idea when I was down to my very last dollar
I would love to tell you that when I gave that first $32, the windows of heaven flew open…
…that an angel came with a duffle bag full of money…
…or that someone stopped me on the side of the road and, while praying in the Spirit, handed me a check for $100,000.
It didn’t happen.
All that happened was my check was now $32 lighter.
It’s the truth.
And no angel came the second time I tithed. Nobody stopped me on the street the fourth time. No check came in the mail the fifth time…and so on…and so on.
Things gradually began to change for me, but it DID NOT happen overnight:
- I was still out of work.
- I was still licking my wounds from past mistakes.
- I still felt like a loser.
- And etc.
So I will warn you: if you are looking for a quick fix tithing is not for you! You may have a better chance with the lottery.
Disadvantage of Tithing: There Is NO Guarantee of Increase
I’d like to tell you that if you tithe, all your needs will be met, you’ll double your income, and the CEO will walk up to you and divinely decide to give you that YP position.
There are no guarantees with tithing. I will be the first to admit it.
I believe a person has a greater chance of success if they tithe while applying OTHER successful habits.
But there are stories of people who tithe and go bankrupt (i.e., Dave Ramsey) and who tithe and struggle financially.
In fact the Bible gives an example:
And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”
Luke 21:1-4 NKJV
Now I have heard great sermons that she must have received sooooo much back because Jesus said:
And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life.
Matthew 19:29 New Living Translation
So based on that Word (ha!) this poor widow woman (ha!) must’ve received (ha!) a “pressed-dooooown (ha!)-shaken-together (ha!) running-oooovaaaah-blessing!”
Somebody say: “YESSSS!!! (HA!)”
I’m not making fun. I’d be shouting too if I heard that. I’d run and give ALL my money if I heard that.
But that’s not what the Bible says.
Jesus nor the Gospel writers spoke about this woman again. We don’t know if more money came to her OR she just continued in her hardship.
We don’t know.
And I don’t know what will happen to you if you tithe. Because again: there are NO GUARANTEES.
Disadvantage of Tithing: It Opens You Up to Pastoral/Church Abuse
Recently a whistleblower complaint to the Internal Revenue Service revealed that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints amassed about $100 billion in accounts intended for charitable purposes.
Church leaders were accused of misleading members by stockpiling surplus donations instead of using them for charitable works. It also accused church leaders of using the tax-exempt donations to prop up a pair of businesses.
According to the complaint the church typically collects about $7 billion each year in contributions, $6 billion is used to cover annual operating costs, while the remaining $1 billion or so is transferred to Ensign Peak Advisers (the church’s investment division).
(Other research suggests the church’s income could be as much as $35 billion a year.)
The problem is: Ensign is registered with authorities as a supporting organization–which means it can operate as a nonprofit and make money largely free from U.S. taxes.
And according to internal accounting documents the investment portfolio it has has grown from $12 billion in 1997 to about $100 billion today!
Another problem is: according to the complaint Ensign has not directly funded any religious, educational or charitable activities in 22 years!
Ensign recently disclosed its Wall Street holdings to the SEC. It has $37.8 billion in stocks and mutual funds: 1,659 stocks and mutual funds to be exact (for the quarter ending 2019).
Check it out below:
And here is where they invested by sector:
Oh…this doesn’t include the 13 shell companies connected to the church.
The point is this: consistent tithing from faithful members can lead to church abuse.
I really hope you enjoyed this objective view on the advantages and disadvantages of tithing.
And now I’d like to hear from you.
After this, do you see tithing as more of an advantage or disadvantage?
Are there more advantages that you can think of? Any disadvantages?
Either way, let me know by leaving a quick comment below.