Why Do We Give?

Ben Stroup shared an interesting discussion that he recently had with a friend about giving and whether there is a difference between giving to a non-profit and giving to a church.  Reading the conversation I have to admit that it bothered me because whether I like it or not, many in this country believe that there is no difference, and the giving patterns of congregations back that up.

For as long as the local church continues to not talk about money in an attempt to not offend people people will see the offering plate being no different than the Heart Association’s appeal letter.  The problem with this is that tithing is a spiritual act… an act of worship.  This act of worship calls us to give of our first fruits.  If we give our first fruit to anything but our God we are practicing idolatry.

Now, don’t hear me saying that we should not be giving to organizations outside the church… I think we should be generous to those causes that we are passionate about, but I also think that God deserves our first fruits.  The local church needs to be looking at generosity as a mark of a Christ follower and teaching stewardship as a part of the discipleship process instead of cowering in fear at the mention of talking about finances from the pulpit.

What do you think?


About the Author: Matt Steen

I love Jesus, Theresa (my wife), the Redskins & Capitals, and am currently living in Waco, Texas where I am studying the finer points of BBQ (while working on my MDiv and MBA at Baylor University). When not studying, I serve church leaders through and am the Director of Connections for Harris Creek Baptist Church's Downtown Campus.

  • Curtis

    not sure if I agree with you completely.

    Giving to other (non-church) organizations that are furthering the gospel, or are working to relieve suffering in some way, is a legitimate use of our Tithe… isn’t that still a sacrifice that we are making, for God and His purposes?

  • Matt

    My personal beliefs are that you tithe to your church and then you make offerings above and beyond. While I am more comfortable with tithe money being redirected to a ministry (as opposed to going to a secular organization), I still believe that we are called to give our first 10% to the church, and then give offerings above and beyond to other ministries and organizations.

  • A. Amos Love

    Was wondering…

    Did anyone ever “Tithe” silver, gold, or money, in the Bible?

  • Matt

    Hi Amos!

    Thanks for commenting. Off the top of my head I can think of the widow that Jesus pointed out to the disciples in Luke 21, the Magi with their offering of gold to Jesus in Matthew, and I am sure that after I do a little more study I may find one or two more. The fact that there were “money changers” in place at the temple points towards it as well.

  • A. Amos Love


    You write…
    “The problem with this is that “tithing” is a spiritual act…”

    You seem to identify and interchange “Tithing” with *Giving.”
    In the Bible they seem to be different.

    Doesn’t “Tithe” mean “a tenth?”
    OT – Tithe – Strongs #04643 – maaser = tenth part.
    NT -Tithe –  Strongs #586 – apodekateuo; to pay a tenth of:

    I can find NO place, in the Bible, Where anyone gave a “Tithe” **to a church.**
    Or, believers being taught by anyone to give “a tenth part” of anything **to a church.**

    Seems the widow *gave,* but it wasn’t a “Tithe.” Luke 21 doesn’t mention “Tithe.”

    Luke 21:2-4
    And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.
    And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:
    For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God:
    but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.

    And the Magi *gave gifts* to Jesus. But, NOT a “Tithe.”
    NT – Gifts – Strongs #1435. doron – a gift, present, spec. a sacrifice:

    Mat 2:11
    …and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures,
    they presented unto him *gifts;* gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

    Seems, in the Bible, the “Tithe” was always food – to be eaten and/or sacrificed to God.
    The “Tithe,” in the Bible, was **never** silver, gold, or money.

    Lev 27:30
    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.

    Lev 27:32
    And concerning the “tithe” of the herd, or of the flock,
    even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.

    With all the teaching Paul had for the ekklesia, the church, he never mentions “Tithing.”
    Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, James, and Jesus, **Never** ask believers to “Tithe.”

    Be blessed in your search for “Truth.” Jesus…

  • Matt

    Admittedly I do interchange the words tithe and giving and the intent of the post was to deal with the spiritual act of giving and the heart of generosity that is created in a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ, not to delve into the theology of tithing.

    That said, I am curious to hear your thoughts on whether it is appropriate to give to the local church and how you determine what that looks like in your context.  

    I personally tithe to the local church as an act of worship, not because it is instructed anywhere in scripture, but because that is what I feel led to do.  I also give to other ministries above that tithe, for the same reason… 

  • A. Amos Love


    You write…
    “I am curious to hear your thoughts on whether it is appropriate to give to the local church”

    “I personally tithe to the local church as an act of worship, not because it is instructed
     anywhere in scripture, but because that is what I feel led to do.”

    Would love to answer your questions, but, need to know where you stand on “The Bible.”
    Is it “The Word of God?” Is it your standard? Is it more important then your tradition?

    Jesus warned us about making “the word of God”
    of non effect through our traditions; Yes?

    Mark 7:13 KJV – Making the word of God of “none effect” through your tradition…
    Mark 7:13 ASV – Making “void” the word of God by your tradition…
    Mark 7:13 NIV – Thus you “nullify” the word of God by your tradition…

    For you – Is “The Word of God”( “Jesus and The Bible”) more important then your tradition?
    And – If you “Tradition” doesn’t line up with scripture? Then What?

    What is popular is not always “Truth.”
    What is “Truth” is not always popular.

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall **hear My voice;**
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice.

    {{{{{{  Jesus  }}}}}}

    Be blessed in your search for “Truth”… Jesus.

    P.S. Is there anyway to get an automatic email for follow up comments?

  • Matt

    Click on the word follow at the bottom of the comment box and it will give you options on following the conversation.

    You seem to be coming at this from the stand that we are commanded NOT to give to support the local church.  I am just trying to figure out if this is the case.  I see nowhere in scripture where we are commanded not to give to the local church and so we give to support it as an act of worship.  The way that I traditionally have done that is by giving a tenth of my income to the church and then the church plants and missionaries that we support are over and above that tenth.  I see nowhere in scripture where that is deemed contrary to God’s will.  I see nowhere in scripture where that is deemed as a requirement of those that are following Christ.  

    I believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, and I believe that man’s traditions are second to what the Word commands.  

    So, what do YOU believe?  Are we to support the local church?  Are we to support missionaries?  How do YOU give of what has been given to you?

  • A. Amos Love

    Matt – Sorry for the delay in answering.

    I’m with you about giving, giving genrously and giving cheerfully. 😉

    2 Cor 9:7
    Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give;
    not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

    You ask…
    “How do YOU give of what has been given to you?”

    I’ve come to believe All that is given to me, (money, posessions, time), ALL belongs to God.
    And – If it ( money, posessions, time ) ALL belongs to God?
    Then I should give ( money, posessions, time ) to whom, and when, Jesus asks me to.

    Not just to those “I think” will use it well, or use it for the kingdom of God,
    But – to whom, and when, Jesus asks me to. Believer, or non-believer, like, or dislike.

    His thoughts and His ways are higher, and to obey is better than sacrifice. Yes?

    1Sam 15:22
    And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
    as **in obeying the voice of the LORD?**
    Behold, **to obey is better than sacrifice,* and **to hearken** than the fat of rams.

    I believe God has “great delight” when we ask Him – to whom, and when, to give.
    God has “great delight” when we *hear His Voice* and obey Him,
    for all things, especially when giving his money, posessions, time.

    In the past God has rebuked me for giving money to people “I thought” had a need.
    But, Jesus corrected me, and taught me to only give – to whom, and when, He says so.

    Luke 6:46
    And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which **I say?**

    Trust and obey – Not think and decide.
    Almost all my giving is now to people, individuals, very little to organizations.

    Deuteronomy 4:36
    Out of heaven he made thee to **hear His voice,**
    that *He might instruct thee*…

    You ask…
    “How do YOU give of what has been given to you?”

    I now give – what – to whom – when – Jesus asks me to.

    Jesus is a lot smarter then I am. And to obey is better then sacrifice. 😉