The Tithe and the New Tax Law

At the end of 2017, the whole country, maybe the whole world, was watching as the House and the Senate finally came to agreement to pass a new tax law that would affect most of us across America.  While I have not seen anything but excerpts of the law, supposedly during this 2018 year most Americans who are paying taxes will get a reduction in the amount of taxes they pay.  From what I read and what I have seen, it appears to be a good thing to help most of the working folks in America. 

One of the things that happens in the new law is a different way of providing for deductions.  An individual or a couple will get a far greater deduction at the very outset and they are probably not going to be able to deduct charitable contributions unless they have been extremely high.  With that said, we did not even get into the year 2018 until people were asking me, “How do you think the new tax law is going to affect giving in our churches?”

For what they were asking me, I do not have an answer, but they were assuming that because many people would not have the opportunity to deduct their gifts to the church from their taxable income, that they would stop giving.  Because of the offsets, that may or may not take place.  It did cause me to realize that some, if not many, folks give to the Lord only because it’s beneficial to them.  It also caused me to wonder if in many of our churches we have not taught the significance of stewardship as God has directed us. 

If you would, take just a few minutes and walk with me through some biblical instructions on how we are to give to the Lord.  In Leviticus 27:30 the Scripture says, “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s: it is holy unto the Lord.”  The tithe is the Lord’s.  When God began to instruct His people to tithe, there was no tax structure as such.  They were to give to the Lord, not to reap a benefit of paying less taxes or any kind of benefit other than the blessing of participating in the work of God by their gifts. 

One of the sad things about most of our giving is that we think about that tithe, that 10% of what we have received in the paycheck, going to the church, going to the Lord’s work and we forget that the greater emphasis is on the 90% that God says you keep and you use and you bless your family and you take care of your needs.  With the 90%, He lavishly blesses us and He gives us opportunity to share in His work with the 10%, yet we typically focus on the awkwardness, the painfulness, the burdensomeness, of giving 10% to the Lord.  He didn’t say you have to give 50/50.  He didn’t say you had to give 25%, but oh, what a blessing to give to Him the tithe knowing that He entrusts to us the 90% to bless us, to bless our families, to bless the needs in our lives. 

Take a moment and look at the 90% and it may help you to see how significant it is for you to participate with the 10%.  We are under command and mandate from God to give of the tithe while enjoying the benefits and blessings of the 90%, we give the 10%.  The truth, the unchanging, emphatic truth is that the tithe is the Lord’s.  If you keep it, it is still the Lord’s.  If you use it for your benefit, it still is the Lord’s.  That is reason why in Malachi 3:8, the Scripture asks the question from God, “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.”

If you take something that belongs to someone else and keep it for yourself, that is robbery.  As significant as that may be and as awkward as it may look and as sad as it may shock us, the tithe is the Lord’s.  If you keep it, you are robbing Him.  Truthfully, if you don’t tithe, you don’t only rob God, you rob yourself.  It was Jesus who said in Acts 20:35, “‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”  If you don’t give and you don’t tithe, you are robbing yourself of joy. 

Why does God want us to give?  He owns the cattle on a thousand hills.  He has everything.  It is His.  Why do you think He wants us to tithe?  It’s for our benefit, for our blessing, that we have the wonderful privilege of entering into Kingdom work through His church, through His servants, through all that goes forth in the name of Christ and the joy of all those glorious ministries, activities, and missions are ours because we participated.  When you tithe, you are actually giving to God.  You are benefiting His work.  You are partnering with Him to touch this world for Christ.  You will reap the joys of the blessing of giving.

An additional benefit that comes from giving is the fact that giving, gracious generosity, is the only way to overcome greediness.  As you give, something is triggered in your life that creates a different dynamic of heart and spirit.  The more you hold on just for your own self-use and benefit, the greedier you become.  In fact, the more you give graciously, the more generous you become.  It is amazing, but it is true. 

Perhaps getting a tax break is the reason you’ve been giving to the Lord.  The withdrawal of that tax break will probably keep you from giving, but if you’ve been giving to the Lord out of a heart of thanksgiving and grace, there is probably little to nothing that could ever stop you from experiencing the joy of being a blessing and giving as God has poured out blessings in His giving to you.

I’ve had people ask me about how that is going to affect giving.  I do confess that I don’t know, but isn’t it strange that in our tax code we might be put in a position to have more money.  In receiving more, we question whether we should give more.  The Lord is deserving of all that we have and certainly all that we give to His glory.

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Jim Futral

Executive Director-Treasurer