The other day, while I was on a popular social network, I was asked this question. Do Pastors tithe? The reason for this question was the recent news incident of the pastor who tried to stiff a waitress at an Applebee’s grill. Not only did he try to stiff the server, he wrote a note on the receipt that said: “I give God 10% so why do you get 18%?” Then he signed it Pastor “so and so”.
My friend, who asked this question, doesn’t attend church; nor to my knowledge does he profess to a personal relationship with Christ. His question made that obvious. This was his question “Do pastors actually tithe?” Then of course, this led to a whole bunch of follow up questions. Today I want to tackle the topic of ‘Do pastors tithe?’ Also some discussion about tithes and offerings in general.
Tithing is a biblical directive given by God to Moses for the children of Israel. You can find the command and rules in Leviticus 27, Numbers 18, Deuteronomy 12 and 14. The one that has the most to do with our question is found in Numbers 18:26 Speak thus to the Levites, and say to them: ‘When you take from the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them as your inheritance, then you shall offer up a heave offering of it to the Lord, a tenth of the tithe.”
Within this passage is the answer to the questions do pastors tithe. The original reason for the tithe was so that the Levites, who were the tribe where all of Israel’s priests came from were not to own land or work in the fields. They were to be priests of God to the children of Israel. The other tribes were commanded to bring a tithe of ten percent of the increase of their produce and animals to the church to support God’s work and his workers, the Levites. So some pastors who say since I am paid by the tithe of my congregation I don’t actually need to tithe because my whole salary comes from the tithe. I know of other pastors who work both at the church and outside the church who will tithe on what they make secularly but not on their church salary.
However, if you read Numbers 18:26 you see that even the Levites were commanded to offer up an offering of a tenth of the tithe that they received. In other words, they offered a tithe of the tithe. So looking at this I believe pastors should tithe on any salary they receive. This leads to one of the follow up questions about tithing I am often asked. Should I tithe on my gross pay or my net pay? Again, I know people who do it either way. I know and have people in church who tithe right off the top of their gross salary before taxes and deductions. I also have people who tithe off their net or take home pay. However, I personally don’t think either of those are scriptural. Scripture tells us in Deuteronomy 14:22 “You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year.”
You are to tithe of the increase or the fruit of your labor. Any farmer knows that it takes seed to grow crops in other words there are expenses to making money. Scripturally you are to tithe off the increase or the fruit of your labor. In other words, after your expenses. Most people don’t keep a detailed budget of how much it costs them to work where they do, but the truth is, as the old saying goes, “ it takes money to make money”. Scripturally you are commanded to tithe off the money you make after your expenses. This can be complicated to figure out, so I generally tell people to talk to God, listen, and he will tell them how they should tithe off their gross salary, their net salary, or after expenses are accounted for.
Finally, I want to address the note this pastor gave to the waitress. He said “I give God ten percent why should you get eighteen?” There are two things I would say to this pastor. The first is this; If all you give God is your tithe of ten percent then you aren’t actually obeying God. He tells us to “bring your tithe and OFFERINGS into the store house. So there will be meat in My house.” We’re commanded to give a tithe of 10% plus offerings above that. Therefore, if you only give God his 10 percent then you, sir, are shortchanging God.
Second, if you had ever worked in the service industry then you would know that, according to labor laws, servers are only paid half of minimum wage. The other half of their wage is supposed to come from their tips. Why did she get 18 percent? Because it was Applebee’s company policy; and because it accounts for half of her actual salary. As my absolute last word on this topic, let me further state, Scripture also commands us to “Love our Neighbor as our self” and to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” So next time you eat out, preacher, why not write a different note. One that says: “Just wanted to tell you God loves you and so do I. Here’s an extra 10% for a total of 20% just to show you a token of that love.
Until the next question