Philosophy and Principles of Tithing
by Father Joseph Champlin
Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II said:
We cannot stand idly by,
enjoying our own riches and freedom if, in any place the Lazarus of the twentieth century [or any century] stands at our doors.
1Timothy 6:17-19 states:
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant
nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, Who
richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich
in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up
treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take
hold of the life that is truly life.
Malachi 3:6-10 warns:
I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendant of Jacob, are not
destroyed. Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from My decrees
and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you, says the Lord Almighty.
But you ask, How are we to return?
Will a man rob God? Yet you rob Me.
But you ask, How do we rob You?
In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse - the whole
nation of you - because you are robbing Me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse,
that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if I
will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will
not have room enough for it.
Four Principles of Tithing:
to the Lord in gratitude a portion of everything
God has given, whether through paychecks,
dividends, unexpected windfalls, Social Security payments, or regular allowances.
gift as a sacrifice, a
donation that seems almost more than
affordable, an offering that "makes holy" (the literal meaning
of the word "sacrifice") all the efforts and earnings of the past month.
whatever means the Local Community may use to identify your tithe as a donation from you,
thus both manifesting to others your commitment to regular support of the Community and
actively participating in the collection as part of the Community's Conventual
the biblical norm of tithing in determining the amount of your
biblical norm was ten (10) percent of gross income. But in addition, there were many other
offerings. Both tithes and offering could equal more than
(1/3) of a family's gross income.
The Biblical Basis of Tithing:
rooted in the Hebrew Scriptures, or Old Testament, reinforced by the New Testament
teaching on generosity and exemplified in the lives of the early
The following passages from each of those sources illustrate this Scriptural challenge
of tithing and generous giving:
Testament: Glorify the Lord generously, and do not stint the
first fruits of your hands. With every gift show a cheerful face, and dedicate your tithe
with gladness. (Sirach 35:8-9)
Testament: In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind
of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus Himself said: 'It
is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35)
Christians: All the believers were together and had everything
in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.
Holy Scripture also promises that
God will care for the needs of those who tithe and
generously return a share of what the Lord has given them.
These verses exemplify this biblical summons to trust and the promise of our
Testament: I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen
the righteous forsaken or their children begging food. (Psalm 37:25)
Testament: But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and
all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for
tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. -
Additional Principles of Tithing:
means to give of a person's gross income. The tithe, however, is only a barometer,
guideline, or estimating level for one's sacrificial
giving. Some can and should offer
more than the recommended amount of their tithe; others may return less than that
amount of the suggested tithe is legitimately too much for one's current budget, a member
may begin with a lower percentage that will be both sacrificial and yet possible. Then the
member may gradually raise the level of giving until the full suggested amount is reached.
In this way brothers and sisters and families are making a decision for the
Lord first and
only afterward considering their own needs and wants.
should involve their children in tithing by teaching them through word and by example the
priority of returning to God a portion of the
blessing He has given us. Children may do
this through tithing their allowances or income from part-time jobs.
faithful Christians who tithe report how remarkably their material needs have been met.
Moreover, they will cite these blessings as even greater,
A sense of
satisfaction that comes from generosity;
An awareness that
comes first, even in decisions about money;
A recognition that one
has eliminated the practice of making contributions that are mere leftovers
or contributions of habit;
An ability to
distinguish between wants and needs;
A deeper consciousness
of society's materialism and
A keener appreciation
of the world's poor and how we should and can alleviate their
A quiet confidence in
the Lord's protective care.
An eight minute Homily by Dominican Father