All the Tithes… Prove Me Now
James R. Horne, State Overseer
“It has been suggested that if everyone was faithful in paying tithe there would be no want in financing the gospel. It behooves The Church of God to be faithful in all things!” (BTI Correspondence Course #4, Prominent Teachings of The Church of God, p.40).
The State Finance & Appropriations Committee met immediately following the Ministers’ Convention this year. During their meeting, it was discussed and felt that the area of tithing and giving should be encouraged and addressed within the State. In accordance with their recommendation and in response to the General Ways & Means report to this year’s Assembly, the following informative and practical message by former General Overseer M. A. Tomlinson is submitted to the Alabama Evening Light:
“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Mal. 3:10).
Because of some confusion arising from certain tax and wage laws, and the changing pay practices of some employers, it seems necessary to say something about tithe-paying. The thirteenth Assembly (1917) set forth examples for computing tithes under various situations, and these have been used as a guide for many years. Changes in recent years have created some circumstances which did not exist at that time; therefore, it seems good to offer some additional guidance.
The basic principals of tithe-paying do not change. Tithes are paid on increase. The pamphlet, Twenty-Nine Important Bible Truths, states, “Tithing is the payment of one-tenth of our increase into the treasury of the Church.” Also, two scripture passages referring to increase: “Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year” (Deut. 14:22), and “Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase” (Prov. 3:9). That the Church teaches tithing as scriptural is a settled fact which is accepted by all who take the covenant of membership. The amount of increase to be paid on has always been left to the conscience of the individual. But the conscientious person does not take the matter lightly, in the face of the Word of the Lord through the Prophet Malachi: “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation” (Mal. 3:8, 9). Of course, robbery is not determined by the amount. It could be possible that a man, through covetousness, would allow too many deductions and shortchange his Lord. Again, it is the principle that counts.
The meaning of increase has troubled some honest hearts, possibly because of varying practices employed by different individuals in arriving at the amount on which to pay tithes. The net income, or increase, is the amount remaining after allowable deductions are subtracted from the total or gross income. The specification, “...all the increase of thy seed” implies that only such expenses are deductible as are required to make that increase. The only allowable expenses are those which you would not have if they were not created by the particular job for which you are paid.
Living expenses—food, clothing, living quarters, and utilities—are not deductible, but must be paid out of our increase. These are the things God gives us our increase for. The farmer may deduct the cost of the seed, fertilizer, hired help, taxes, tractor fuel, etc., because these are expenses involved in producing the crop. He pays tithes on the remainder and lives on the other nine-tenths. A merchant may deduct the rental on the building, employees’ wages, license to operate, taxes, and the cost of goods for resale.
The majority of people work on a wage or salary basis. In the United States, and perhaps some other countries, the government has imposed a tax on our income, and also a social security tax, both of which all must pay, subject to certain regulations. The amount after these are withheld has come to be referred to as take-home pay. Some have not been able to count the take-home pay an honest basis for tithable income. We would not want to hold the Lord responsible to pay any tax for us that could not be justified as clearly deductible. Taxes are not deductible unless directly and clearly a part of the cost or expense involved in the making of our income—as in the case of the farmer and merchant above.
Some companies and industries make certain benefits available at the employee’s choice, such as types on insurance, stock options, retirement benefits, etc. If the employee wants to pay for these benefits and have them withheld, he should add them back on his take-home pay to arrive at his tithable increase. If the company pays for these benefits, the cost is an increase to the employee and therefore tithable. We can see from this that the take-home pay does not always furnish the basis of our tithable income.
Another consideration not to be overlooked is the matter of reimbursed expenses, and fixed expense allotments. If expenses are reimbursed on a dollar-for-dollar basis, there would be no profit or overage. If a fixed allotment results in a profit, the overage should be tithed. The same principle would hold true in the case of refunds from overages in the payment of income taxes.
The minister’s expense is subject to the same principles that apply to any other job. Expenses in the ministry which the minister would not have if he were not a minister are deductible. Where the minister has an expense allotment available from any source, his net income would naturally be that much larger, allowing him the joy and privilege of paying more tithes into God’s storehouse.
Our Church of God members believe in fairness and honesty with all men as individuals, and with their governments which they support with their taxes. The man who is conscientious in these things will have little difficulty in being conscientious toward his God. He considers the blessing in tithing, and does not count it a burden or an imposition. He pays tithes in the spirit of grace, not in the spirit of the law. He loves God and His Church and counts it a privilege to pay a full tenth of his increase to that which he loves. He does not pay grudgingly, as a matter of covetousness, but willingly in the spirit of liberality. He gives God the benefit of every doubt.
The words of Apostle Paul concerning the disciplining of ourselves with regard to meats, drinks, and similar matters, might well apply here: “...Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth” (Rom. 14:22). Nothing is worth the price of condemnation in the sight of God.
Our greatest blessings do not lie in that which we have to spend or in that which we lay up in store here below, but rather in that which we invest in heaven. There is no better way of saying it than in Jesus’ words: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:19-21).
© The Church of God, Alabama
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Local Church Events
Revival in Moulton
October 14-20, 2013
7:00 nightly, 10:00am & 5:00pm on Sunday
Evangelist: Connie Wilson
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October 21-25, 2013
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November 8-10, 2013
Evangelist: Donal Grimes
Old Fashioned Sunday & Homecoming on Sunday, the 10th
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November 15-17, 2013
Evangelist: Brandon Keel
October 26th, 2013
to be held at the local churches in:
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