Tithing: On Learning Contentment and Cheerful Giving

Blog / Produced by The High Calling

I’m ashamed to admit this.

When my husband and I were married in the fall of 1976, and I moved into his apartment near the university where he was a student, I brought an $800 credit card debt with me. According to an online calculator, $800 in 1976 would be almost $3400 today. Among other character flaws, my credit card debt was a reflection of undisciplined spending habits.

My husband wisely assumed responsibility for our finances. He closed that credit card account after paying it off and established a budget that kept us from spending more than we had coming in – a practice we continued after he graduated from college and our family and income grew.

Though we kept our spending under control for most of the first ten years of our marriage, we never considered including charitable giving in our budget. Neither of us was raised in homes where tithing was a priority, and we didn’t attend a church that emphasized tithing as a spiritual discipline. Our giving practices consisted of placing whatever discretionary money we might have in our wallets at the time into the offering plate as it was passed.

Eight years into our marriage, our budget and standard of living reflected our above average combined incomes, but shortly after the birth of our son Casey and buying a new home, we decided that I should resign from my position as a nursing administrator (with a salary greater than my husband’s and benefits that included a car) to stay home fulltime with our 3 boys – a decision that required drastic changes in our living and spending habits.

A few weeks later, we were still adjusting to living on less-than-half our previous income when we were convicted about our nearly negligible giving habits. Convinced that tithing was a matter of trust and obedience, we prayerfully decided that in addition to the other changes we were making in our living standards and spending practices, we would begin tithing our gross, before taxes and deductions, income.

Over thirty year later, it’s a decision my husband never failed to doubt or honor – even when it wasn't easy and often looked impossible, if not foolish, on paper.

What We Learned From That Decision to Tithe

  • Tithing acknowledges that we are stewards, not owners, of whatever God has entrusted to our keeping (Deuteronomy 10:14). God owns it all. Tithing whatever we have been trusted to steward demonstrates that we are just conduits of giving a small portion of all that belongs to God.
  • Stewardship requires accountability (Matthew 25:14-30). We are accountable to God for how we use whatever He has given us. It has motivated us to live frugally, creating margins in our budget that we can not only tithe but be able to give beyond the local church to various charitable organizations and to meet the needs of others as we are led.
  • Because of that accountability, tithing has caused us to be more thoughtful members of the church. We have intentionally covenanted with a church we believe will use the tithes and offerings of its members for Kingdom goals to the glory of God – knowing that they, too, will be accountable.
  • Tithing has been a refining discipline that has consistently brought impurities in our hearts to the surface – revealing our bent toward coveting and selfness as we learned to be content (Philippians 4:11).
  • Tithing has been a matter of obedience – not because God needs our money, but because He loves us and wants us to trust in His Sovereignty and His perfect design and will for our lives – knowing that it will teach us more about His character, prove His faithfulness and increase our trust in His provisions.
  • Tithing may have been birthed out of a sense of duty, but it grew to be a joy and a privilege.Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7 ESV) Tithing has been a catalyst to becoming cheerful givers.

Perhaps the tithe can be a beginning way to acknowledge God as the owner of all things, but it is only a beginning and not an ending.

Richard Foster, Freedom of Simplicity: Finding Harmony in a Complex World


Patricia Hunter is a freelance writer and photographer. She describes herself as a “wannabe psalmist with a camera.” She cultivates an eye for life's mercies where ever God takes her. It's usually not far from her home in Central Florida. You can find her at Facebook, Twitter, and at her blog, Pollywog Creek, where this first appeared.



Should Christians (or Christian businesses) tithe? How much money should I give away? Does God want me to take a vow of poverty and give everything away? Will God punish me if I don’t tithe? How do I balance my budget of needs and wants with the biblical command of giving? If you’ve ever asked these questions to find out exactly what tithing means and how it applies to you, you are not alone. We’ll explore the concept of Tithing in this High Calling theme, and we invite you to follow along. Ask questions, offer your insights, and help us keep the conversation going.


Post featured by David Rupert. Image credits: Photo by Cindee Snider Re. Design by Jennifer Dukes Lee. Used with permission.