Christian Investors - How do you tithe?

19 Replies

Hey Friends,

As a Christian I am curious how other believers go about tithing on their income. I believe the Bible gives clear direction that we are to tithe on a tenth of our gross income. However, I’m confused about how it relates to small business income. Gross profits before expenses work differently inside of a real estate portfolio (including appreciation) and I’m wondering how you go about honoring God with your increase? Thanks!

My pastor, Chris Hodges, at Church of the Highlands in Montgomery, says "tithe on whatever part you want God to bless".  Don't tithe on the part that you don't want God's blessing on.  I personally tithe on what goes directly into my checking account.  The appreciation and deferred profit from 1031 exchange or whatever, I consider that future "checking account" money that  I will tithe on when rents or sales will become my daily income. 

I would tithe on my increase, which would be profit whether you take it home or leave it in the business. Dave Ramsey teaches tithe on profit or take home pay. Crown Financial teaches tithing on gross income. Either way, tithing is of the heart and a recognition that your increase is because of God, therefore do it diligently and joyfully.

@Kyler Cook I believe you already have your answer, tithing on your gross. I would not include appreciation since that is an unrealized gain. You can tithe on rental income, just as you account for property management. The thing is that you're not tithing so that you can be blessed (because God can bless you as He please whether you tithe or not), but you're tithing BECAUSE of God's blessings.

Hope this was of some help

So a quick theological aside...Christians are not under the tithing system. Mosaic law identified multiple tithes for the old testament jews which were first or levitical tithe, second or festival tithe and a poor tithe. These were for a jewish people that were governed in a Theocratic system where this was the funding mechanism. That means their tithes were in many ways similar to our tax system of today i.e. those moneys/products served to allow for the ongoing operation of the government and the needy in society. Those three tithes combined resulted in an ~23% giving rate not 10%...each is 10% with two of them annually and the third every three years.

So all that said, Christians ought to give from the heart (2 Cor. 9:7), regularly (1 Cor 16:2) and if you struggle with the amount pray and consider what is placed upon your heart (James 1:5). Personally; I do give ~10% not because it is a tithe, but because that is I believe an appropriate benchmark to strive for in giving. I give on what I would call modified gross. It is the gross income minus major capital expenditures. i.e. I don't give on my net after depreciation ect, but I also don't give on the 50K I spend on a unit's rehab. The tithe was given on "the increase" not the total, and I think that is a reasonable look at how to determine what to give on....but again it is a matter of the heart, it is not a law to be followed. 

Originally posted by @Matt Devincenzo :

So a quick theological aside...Christians are not under the tithing system. Mosaic law identified multiple tithes for the old testament jews which were first or levitical tithe, second or festival tithe and a poor tithe. These were for a jewish people that were governed in a Theocratic system where this was the funding mechanism. That means their tithes were in many ways similar to our tax system of today i.e. those moneys/products served to allow for the ongoing operation of the government and the needy in society. Those three tithes combined resulted in an ~23% giving rate not 10%...each is 10% with two of them annually and the third every three years.

So all that said, Christians ought to give from the heart (2 Cor. 9:7), regularly (1 Cor 16:2) and if you struggle with the amount pray and consider what is placed upon your heart (James 1:5). Personally; I do give ~10% not because it is a tithe, but because that is I believe an appropriate benchmark to strive for in giving. I give on what I would call modified gross. It is the gross income minus major capital expenditures. i.e. I don't give on my net after depreciation ect, but I also don't give on the 50K I spend on a unit's rehab. The tithe was given on "the increase" not the total, and I think that is a reasonable look at how to determine what to give on....but again it is a matter of the heart, it is not a law to be followed. 

 The early Christians also paid taxes to Caesar. Tithe means "a tenth part of something". Tithe is paid on the increase amount. Jesus says "these are the things you should have done without neglecting (tithe) the others" Luke 11:42 - Paul refers to how important the tithe is in Hebrews 7:9. Is it required for salvation, No. Is it done out of a grateful heart, Yes. Is it done to show how rich we are, No. For instance, we tithe using cash and we use prepaid Visa credit cards, we don't take a tax write off for it and no one but me and my wife knows how much or where the money gets given to. Church has no record of how much we give. It isn't important information for them to know where that money came from. So, yes tithing is still the "in" thing to do.

@Matt Devincenzo

I believe it was already addressed, but Jesus affirms the tithe to the Pharisees. I do believe you’re right, it needs to be given willing and generously instead of out of obligation. But is definitely there scriptural. Either way, I won’t just another Christian for arriving at a different perspective on giving. It’s not the central theme of the gospel to give 5 or 10%.

I love seeing other believers being faithful with their rental real estate portfolio. Makes it that much more exciting to join you all soon! I’ll be tithing on the profit and then in the end when the property sales on the appreciation I think. I liked the way the gentleman put it above

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@Kyler Cook Most AWESOME thread I've seen on BP - ever!!!  Many different ways to interpret things from a scriptural lens.  Here's my 2 cents on how God has called me to live.

1. Tithing and charitable giving have been hijacked by the government and the church.  Giving for a tax write off is giving to receive and that's not offering first fruits.  In the same way, so many churches want to guilt you into giving directly to their institution (mostly because they have initiatives they feel are important).  Nothing inherently wrong with that but the Tithe is God's not the church's.  There's a distinction.

2. Part of that distinction is that we're called more often than any other call to give to widows and orphans, the disadvantaged and those in real need.  This can be a great departure from the tithe to pay for gyms, lobbyists or stained glass windows.  

3. It seems like a better question isn't how much do I need to tithe but how little can  I keep? 

4. There's no right or wrong in budgeting  or giving.  The right or wrong is in your attitude and agenda.

In the boom years leading up to 08 our income was very unpredictable but pretty lucrative. We had a hard time budgeting our giving (welcome to REI). So we tithed what we knew was coming every month as a fixed base. Then we committed to bank 10% of everything else (a tithe above a tithe I guess) and pray separately for places to give. It was so fun!! We bought cars for single moms, dug wells for orphanages, bought gifts for AIDS camps in Jamaica and in early 2008 we were both told to give it all for 6 months to a couple we had known for a long time who had suffered some catastrophic setbacks. but as the end of 6 months came neither my wife or I could figure out where we were going to give next. The family go the last check and that was also the last time we ever had any tithe above a tithe. The market crashed we lost several zeros But what a fun ride trying to out give God.

Look for the opportunities to give and where He wants you to give.  The rest is all noise level.  

The premise of your question was how to honor God with our increase regarding our RE portfolio.  For me personally, tithing is an outward indicator of an internal witness.  And, that “witness” can be expressed in different ways.  I believe tithing depends on what God’s asking us to do with our lives, time and resources.

My wife, Krys, and I moved to a developing country 3 decades ago to serve impoverished families.  Krys is a midwife and we established a birthing clinic where she has overseen the delivery of almost 30,000 babies; the majority of which have been charity cases we fund from a business we set up that sustains the operational budget.

My definition of tithing isn’t limited to writing a check.  I’ve given food to hungry people, I’ve given the shirt off my back to an old naked woman, I've bought shoes for kids, built a school for aboriginal tribal families in the mountains, and handed out toothbrushes.  I’ve bought coconut tree lumber for widows to fix their homes, bought a toilet for another widow and funded the purchase of piglets, eggs and bread to start livelihood projects.  Currently, one of my long-term employees is on the brink of financial bankruptcy due to the significant health care costs associated with her teenage daughter’s severe mental health illness. My employee can’t work because her daughter desperately needs constant care.  So, I pay her salary even though she hasn’t worked a full day in months.  I consider each of these things a tithe.  I apologize if it sounds like I'm bragging.  I assure you I'm not.  

Tithing is best expressed in two ways; giving money to our churches, and practicing the underlying premise of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:25) who poured oil and wine in the wounds of a stranger.  I do my best to honor both, and God has blessed me more than I deserve; including having a portfolio of rental properties, which is a story in itself that came about because someone offered me a house on an owner-carry contract because he knew I could never afford to buy my own while living overseas.  He tithed to me because he knew I help people who need a hand. 

@Matthew McNeil

It doesn’t sound like you’re bragging at all. When you can give the facts without have to exaggerate, and when those facts motivate everyone in the room to be more like Christ, you’re doing something right.

Thanks for all you’ve done. And for setting that standard. It’s clear how much you love those in need. I really want to be able to do the same.

Tithing in the Old Testament was a matter of tax for the nation of Israel, and now it’s a matter of the heart, but it still means a tenth. Anything over that in my mind is just outright generous and an offering before God.

This is a great thread! Thank you for starting it, @Kyler Cook !

We have always tithed 10% of whatever hits our accounts, as it's the money we use to live on, so it's the only "real" money we have. Including taxed money seems weird since it's not part of our budget, we never see it, and it might as well not exist as far as our daily lives are concerned. We also give 10% on large cash gifts, tax returns, etc. Anything that actually comes into our possession goes into our tithe calculation.

In addition to tithing, we try to give to charitable causes when we can, but we don't do it as often as I would like. I have bought meals for people who needed it, my husband helped restore homes after Hurricane Harvey, we look out for our neighbors, and so on, but we don't often give cash outside of the checks we write to our church. They are very transparent about where the money goes and great stewards, of it so we feel comfortable giving knowing they're not using it for frivolous excesses. 

Ideally, if REI allows us to live the life we hope to have, we will have a lot more flexibility to volunteer our time as well as having more monetary resources with which to help others. My parents are in a stage of life where they have very few expenses and quite a lot of cash flow, so they give upwards of 25-35% of their income + give of their time by working with a variety of ministries. I hope we can do the same, but 20 years sooner. God has already blessed us so much; it's only right we share those blessings with others as much as we can.

Jordan (using hubby's account to post) 

Kyler read carefully when Jesus talks about tithing in Luke . I know every pastor is going to tell you to give and give exceedingly according to how you want blessed but please Observe the context ,The subject topic of that scripture was actually how Jesus exposed the Pharisees hypocrisy ! How they twisted Gods word and used ceremonial laws and mans traditions than actually doing what’s right in the sight of God . Big difference . Most preachers will tell you that we are under the age of grace with a new covenant but oddly enough they never throw out the mosaic law of tithe . Have you noticed No matter how wacky how mixed up the doctrine is at the church , they all agree to give ten percent . They will throw out every teaching Christ taught us but they never give up the money parts ! Christ came to do what the law couldn’t , he’s the new covenant .you can’t live under TWO covenants and The truth is unless you are an Old Testament Israelite you are not required to give ten percent .. I’m not dogmatic about it though if a guy wants to honor God and give everything he has to his church that’s up to him .me personally im going to follow the New Testament under the new covenant . I’m going to practice what is preached in

2Corinthians 9:7

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

^^ For me there is only one way to take that . I’m not to be forced to give by a pastor or church doctrine and I’m not to be forced to give a certain set amount . It’s going to be what I choose to give in my heart and not out of compulsion or guilt .

I’ll add more thing because I’m passionate about this topic ; if you want all of God’s blessing then put your trust in his son Jesus Christ . Despite what many preachers push ,It’s not going to come in the form of giving money to get his blessing . He already paid the price on Calvary . You simply put your faith in Christ to get it . There’s nothing to earn or do to get that (Ephesians 2:8) Whenever I hear a preacher say you need to do this or that I’m reminded of The thief on the cross . He never gave any tithe ,participated in communion , never kept the sabbath day ,never got baptized , never joined a church , never prayed to Mary ,never went up to an altar or repeated a special sinners prayer .. he simply trusted that Jesus is truly the son of God and repented. Jesus said “ today you’ll be with me in paradise “ . We can learn a lot from that thief on the cross today .

Originally posted by @Dennis M. :

I’ll add more thing because I’m passionate about this topic ; if you want all of God’s blessing then put your trust in his son Jesus Christ . Despite what many preachers push ,It’s not going to come in the form of giving money to get his blessing . He already paid the price on Calvary . You simply put your faith in Christ to get it . There’s nothing to earn or do to get that (Ephesians 2:8) Whenever I hear a preacher say you need to do this or that I’m reminded of The thief on the cross . He never gave any tithe ,participated in communion , never kept the sabbath day ,never got baptized , never joined a church , never prayed to Mary ,never went up to an altar or repeated a special sinners prayer .. he simply trusted that Jesus is truly the son of God and repented. Jesus said “ today you’ll be with me in paradise “ . We can learn a lot from that thief on the cross today .

 Pithy.

"Pithy [ pith-ee ] SEE MORE SYNONYMS FOR pithy ON THESAURUS.COM

adjective: brief, forceful, and meaningful in expression; full of vigor, substance, or meaning; terse; forcible: a pithy observation."

@Dennis M.

I totally agree that we aren’t under the law any more and that Jesus came to fulfill the law, but in some ways his grace wasn’t a release from behavior but a fulfillment of it. What I mean is, before Jesus God said not to commit adultery. Under Jesus, and the New Testament grace, to look at a woman with lust is on par with adultery. In the same way, God commanded 10%. Yes at the time that was God’s tax on Israel to concede to the nation, but in the New Testament Jesus comes to fulfill giving as not just a 10% of what you have, but to give from the heart. He says the pharisees did what was right in giving their tithe but they failed to do the more important matters of the law, which were to love others. So Jesus does affirm tithing, and even goes so far as to say if you have two coats you should give the other. I don’t think Jesus’ grace means we arent subject to giving, I think it means that we aren’t just to give, but to give from a worshipful heart. In other words, New Testament Christians gave of all they had in order that those with need would be taken care of. I completely agree with what you’ve said though, if you’re giving because someone told you to you need to stop immediately. But for those in Christ, that won’t be the issue.

If you purpose in your heart to give 10% percent to your church then do it , that’s great in fact maybe your heart says give 50% and that’s great to .. but my issue comes when preachers say you need to cough up  10% to get Gods blessing or to gain his favor . Now it’s crossed over and it’s done out of guilt compulsion and /or fear . Jesus only mentioned tithing to illustrate how hypocritical the Pharisees were but you can bet most preachers won’t preach it that  way .just like when you hear of the parable of the “ widows mite” preachers are quick to say it’s an example how we should do sacrificial giving down to the penny  like the old widow did when it was actually when understood in context as another example of Christ calling out the Pharisees and how they extort people !   Bad preaching and greed has lead me to study this topic . You will be hard pressed to find a solid example of people giving tithe offerings under the new covenant in the Bible   

@Dennis M.

We are in agreement there. If a preacher is forcing giving, he doesn’t understand scripture. My old pastor used to say, “This is an opportunity to continue your worship by giving. If you don’t want to give then please don’t. We don’t want anyone’s money if it’s given out of a sense that you have to.”

That always felt like effective truth to me.

Tithing, worshiping, loving your neighbor, helping the poor, etc. are all outward expressions of an internal witness.  Its really that simple. 

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