As Christians, we don’t pay tithes to our church; we pay them to God. The check may be made out to our church, but we pay them to God. Suppose instead of putting your tithe in the offering plate, you decide to keep the money for bills. Chances are no one at the church will notice. You would not be taking from the church, but the prophet Malachi says you are robbing God.
What is the tithe? Ten percent of gross income. Don’t try to tithe on the net, unless you consider the government and whoever else gets your deductions more worthy than God of the first portion of your income.
The tithe essentially amounts to rent for the right to live in the world God created and man desecrated with sin. It is the least we can give to God. Offerings represent gifts beyond the tithe. I do not want to get into the details of tithing or the question of whether Christians must tithe to their local congregation or may send it elsewhere. As I say, we pay it to God.
In all of Scripture, there is only one invitation to test God: Test me by bringing the whole tithe to the storehouse. And what will he do to prove that he passes the test? The tithe opens the windows of heaven, and the offerings determine what blessings he pours forth from the window. Or, to change metaphors, the tithe plants a vine and the offerings determine the extent of the crop.
Tithing on unemployment checks is not easy. At the other end of the scale, the larger a person’s income, the harder he may find it to tack all those zeros on the end of the tithe. Obedience to God is never easy, but he makes such wonderful promises. In this case, he even dares us! I have taken up his dare, and my worst times now are better than my best times before I took the plunge.
One more thing: God is love. If we rob him by neglecting to pay the tithe, we are robbing love!