At Grace Church of Marin, we believe all of life
can only be properly understood when viewed through
the lens of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is only
when we understand our material possessions in
light of Christ's sacrificial love for us that
we can truly have a healthy relationship towards
our material possessions.
Only by seeing that Christ gave up everything so that we could inherit the
riches of heaven will we be transformed into individuals who are both joyful
and generous. Paul summarizes this idea in 2 Corinthians 8:9: "For you
know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your
sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich".
Understanding the riches we have already received in Christ
liberates us from the need to make an idol of our possessions
and motivates us to invest our wealth, talents, and time in
the eternal kingdom of God.
What is the basis for the tithe?
In the Old Testament, believers were required to give a tenth of their income
to the support of the ministry and the needs of the poor. Although the New
Testament does not specifically mention the tithe, it does teach that we should
give as we are "able and even beyond (our) ability". (2 Cor. 8:3). Jesus himself
teaches that our relationship to wealth should be far more radical and generous
than that of the Old Testament when he reminds his followers that God was "pleased" to
give us the kingdom (something God's followers in the Old Testament longed
for) which, Jesus says, should liberate us to "sell your possessions and give
to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure
in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth
destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Luke
12:33-34). Therefore, the tithe (10%) is seen as a kind of minimum guideline
for giving for those of us who 'have been given the kingdom'. Of course, there
are seasons to economic life that sometimes strain our ability to give. In
many cases, good planning over time will be necessary to move our giving into
Biblical proportions without reneging on legal and personal financial obligations.
Do I give 10% of my gross or net income?
Scripture teaches that we are to give back to God our "firstfruits" (Exodus
23:16, 19). Proverbs 3:9 encourages us to 'honor the Lord with (our) wealth,
with the firstfruits of (our) crops'. This is consistent with our understanding
that we are first and foremost citizens of God's kingdom, seeking to invest
our resources (time, talents, money) in ways that are consistent with God's
values and priorities. This is what Jesus meant when he asked us to think first
of investing our wealth "where no thief comes near and no moth destroys". Therefore,
it is Biblical to calculate your tithe and offering on your annual gross income.
Should I give all of my tithe/offering to
The answer to this is a qualified 'no'! Your gift is an act of personal worship
to God in response to his grace in your life. However, if you consider Grace
Marin your 'home church', then you might consider allocating a significant
portion of your tithe and offering to the community where you invest most of
your time and talent, and where others are investing in you. Also, the Church
is that community established by God through which ALL aspects of his kingdom
values are to be lived out. At Grace Marin this means our budget goes to: church
planting, the financially and socially marginalized, teaching and worship,
the deepening of community through Community Groups, counseling, cultural renewal,
and many other areas. Having said that, your tithe and offering should be a
byproduct of prayer and consideration as God works on your conscience.