Philosophy and Principles of Tithing

dives_lazarus_bonifacio.jpg (40538 bytes)
Lazarus and Dives - by Bonifacio VERONESE - from Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice
(The lethargic abandon to the music displayed by the group in the foreground is not in the least disturbed
by the presence of the beggar, Lazarus depicted at the right with a dog licking his wounds)


Philosophy and Principles of Tithing

by Father Joseph Champlin

Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II said:

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)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:

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)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:

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)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:

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)Give back to the Lord in gratitude a portion of everything God has given, whether through paychecks, dividends, unexpected windfalls, Social Security payments, or regular allowances.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)See the 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.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)Use 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 Mass worship.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)Consider the biblical norm of tithing in determining the amount of your sacrificial gift. The biblical norm was ten (10) percent of gross income. But in addition, there were many other "required" offerings. Both tithes and offering could equal more than one-third (1/3) of a family's gross income.

The Biblical Basis of Tithing:

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)Tithing is rooted in the Hebrew Scriptures, or Old Testament, reinforced by the New Testament teaching on generosity and exemplified in the lives of the early Christians.

The following passages from each of those sources illustrate this Scriptural challenge of tithing and generous giving:

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)Old 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)

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)New 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)

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)Early Christians: All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. (Acts 2:44-45)


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 Creator's providential support:

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)Old 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)

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)New 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. - (Matthew 6:33-34)

Additional Principles of Tithing:

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)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 percentage.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)If the 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.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)Families 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.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)Those faithful Christians who tithe report how remarkably their material needs have been met. Moreover, they will cite these blessings as even greater, spiritual rewards:

yellowdot.gif (100 bytes)A sense of serenity and satisfaction that comes from generosity;

yellowdot.gif (100 bytes)An awareness that God comes first, even in decisions about money;

yellowdot.gif (100 bytes)A recognition that one has eliminated the practice of making contributions that are mere leftovers or contributions of habit;

yellowdot.gif (100 bytes)An ability to distinguish between wants and needs;

yellowdot.gif (100 bytes)A deeper consciousness of society's materialism and consumerism;

yellowdot.gif (100 bytes)A keener appreciation of the world's poor and how we should and can alleviate their pain and poverty;

yellowdot.gif (100 bytes)A quiet confidence in the Lord's protective care.


An eight minute Homily by Dominican Father Concordia, O.P.