Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

Frequently Asked Questions on Tithing to the Church

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  1. Does God really want 10%?...It sounds like a lot.

    No, He wants 100%. all or nothing.

    "And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment" (Mark 12:30).
    The early church practiced such:
    "Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. ...Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' fee" (Acts 4:32-37).
    Our Lord Jesus Christ advises us all to give 10% of income to the local church (while attending to the causes of justice mercy and faith):
    "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone" (Matthew 23:23).
    The minimum is 10%. Remember, the Jews in the Old Testament also offered many other gifts to God.
  2. Does God need 10%?

    No. God made the world: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1).

    God raised the dead: "Therefore the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from the dead, bore witness" (John 12:7).

    God healed the sick:"But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, "Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well." And the woman was made well from that hour" (Matthew 9: 22).

    The Lord our God does not need anything; we are the ones who need. We need to participate in ministering the word of God, the sacraments of God, and the hope of salvation both to our own church community and to the community at large.

  3. Will God really bless me if I tithe? Can I put Almighty God to the test?

    Yes, absolutely. In most cases, it is a bad idea to test (or tempt) the Lord your God:

    • "How often they provoked Him in the wilderness, and grieved Him in the desert! Yes, again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel" (Psalm 78:40-41).

    • "Jesus answered him, 'It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test'" (Matthew 4:7).

    • "You shall not tempt the Lord your God as you tempted Him in Massah" (Deuteronomy 6:16).

    However, the Lord actually invites us to test Him in one and only one matter:
    "'Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,' says the Lord of Hosts. 'If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it'" (Malachi 3:10).
  4. Does my giving make a difference? What if I do not give very much?

    Yes, absolutely. The Holy Bible is filled with examples of people who could only give a little that God miraculously blessed and magnified:

    • From the widow of Zarephath's one jar of oil:
      "And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, 'Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.' So she said, 'As the LORD your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.' And Elijah said to her, 'Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. For thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the LORD sends rain on the earth.'' So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke by Elijah" (1 Kings 17:11-16).
    • to the five barley loaves and two small fish with which our Lord Jesus fed 5,000 men:
      "One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him, 'there is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?' Then Jesus said, 'make the people sit down.' Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, 'Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.' Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten" (John 6:8-13).
    God works miracles with a small thing of little or no consequence (in the world's estimation).

  5. Can I give to charities? They do good work.

    Absolutely, yes, and please do. As a matter of fact, the Lord Jesus said to give of our time and of our selves to worthy causes. However, in the same sentence Jesus also cautioned that tithes to the church should continue besides charitable gifts, (see Matthew 23:23 above). Additionally, some of your tithe is used for charitable community service.

  6. What if I can't afford to tithe? What if I just wait until I'm doing better?

    This is a matter between you, your spiritual advisor, and God. Some might say, "You can't afford not to tithe." Others might say, "Tithe that you may be able to tithe more." Remember, it is not the amount that counts. Our Lord Jesus Christ was more impressed with the two pennies given by a poor widow than by wealthy donations:

    "And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, 'Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had'" (Luke 21:1-4).
    A mite was a Jewish copper coin of the least value, similar to the penny of today. The gift derives its value not from its amount but rather from the spirit in which it is given. A small gift given in the proper spirit derives much value. A numerically large gift given to seek recognition is lower in spiritual value compared to one made anonymously to seek God's pleasure.
  7. But what if I really can't afford to tithe right now?

    Then offer your suffering to God in prayer and supplication. Seek the Lord's help through sacraments and support from the church:

    "You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise" (from Psalm 51)
    The church can use gifts of your time and talents if your finances are wanting. Suggestions might be cleaning, cooking, grounds-keeping, accounting, writing, or teaching. Do you not know what to offer? Talk to your priest; he will have some ideas. Besides, if you are really struggling, perhaps the church might be able to give to you. Talk with your priest:
    "And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul" (Acts 11:27-30).
  8. Can I not just love the Lord without tithing?

    Our Lord Jesus Christ is very specific about what it means to love God:

    • "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him" (John 14:21).

    • "Jesus answered and said to him, If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him." (John 14:23).

    • "He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me" (John 14:24).

    • "But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here" (John 14:31).

    • "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love" (John 15:10).

    Likewise, Christ's apostles are very specific about what it means to love God:
    • "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3).

    • "Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us" (1 John 3:24).

    • "For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them" (2 Peter 2:21).
  9. Okay, Okay, I get it! How do I get started with all this?

    A good way to start is to make a pledge, a written pledge; put down in writing what you plan to give as the Lord continues to provide for you. It can be annually, quarterly, monthly, or whenever you get a paycheck. By writing it down you acknowledge gratefully the income God has blessed you with and at the same time you commit to following his commandments.

    "But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).
    And if you are already pledging, what then? Well, first of all, good. You might consider reviewing your pledge to God. At a minimum, if you are spending more money monthly on entertainment (cable TV, movies, plays, dining out in the evening, those sort of things) than you are giving to your church, clearly your priorities are disordered.

    Why not try this, add up or make a good faith estimate of what you give God annually along with your entertainment spending. Then look at your last year's Form 1040 for your annual income. From your income, subtract out federal taxes paid along with local or state taxes (property or other). This gives you your net income. Compare your giving and entertainment to net income as a percentage of income. Sit there, look at those numbers and ponder for a while. How do you feel about your giving? Pray about it. Think about it. Cogitate about it. Talk to your family about it. Ultimately, talk to your priest about it.

    There is no need or requirement to make radical adjustments; 10% is Biblical, yes, but the decision on the amount is really yours.

    Remember, God does not want your tithe offering as much as he wants your heart and your involvement.

    "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world" (James 1:27).

"Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting
" (Psalm 139:23-24).

"Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law;
Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart
" (Psalm 119:34).

Top Ten Reasons To Tithe:

10.God the Father commands it (Malachi 3:10).
9. Our Lord Jesus Christ commands it (Matthew 6:1-4).
8. The early Church did it, and probably more than 10% (Acts 4:32-37).
7. It helps to set your heart on Heavenly things (Matthew 6:21).
6. The Lord can multiply it immensely (John 6:8-13).
5. It is an expression of love that we can give to the Lord (John 15:13).
4. It allows the Church to minister to the needy (1 Corinthians 16:2).
3. It is appropriate to honor Christ (2 Corinthians 8:2-5).
2. It is the only time that the Lord allows us to test Him (Malachi 3:10).
1. The Lord promises to rain down blessings on us as a result (Malachi 3:10).

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