Top 10 Reasons People Don’t Tithe

Tithing is a spiritual discipline many Christians practice. In its simplest form it means giving back to God 10% of what you make. I’ve practiced it for years as a regular part of my giving. I tithe ‘plus’ to my local church and I give to other causes on top of that. However, throughout my 35 years of ministry I’ve seen 10 common reasons that church people give for not tithing. I list them below with a counter point below each.

  1. It’s all mine anyway. Why should I give?
    • Counter-point (CP): Everything we own is actually God’s (Ps 50.10, Ps 24.1).
  2. I give elsewhere. This is the person who counts his giving to secular causes, his time, or paying for his child’s Christian school tuition as his tithe.
    • CP: Do causes around the purposes of God get the lion’s share of your giving?
  3. Tithing is not in the New Testament. This is one of the most common.
  4. God will provide through other people. This person believes that other people will give to support the cause of Christ in their church.
    • CP: God chose to release His resources through all believers.
  5. My gifts don’t really count. This person thinks that because he can’t give much, his giving really doesn’t matter.
    • CP: Don’t minimize the size of any gift (recall the story of the poor widow in Mark 12.41-44).
  6. I don’t trust preachers. This is understandable due to the few high profile ministers who misuse God’s money.
    • CP: If you lead a church, make sure you instill the highest standards of stewardship and accountability.
  7. I only give to projects I like. This is the control freak who only gives to projects he or she can designate funds to. Some people in this category even hold back their giving in their church because they haven’t gotten their way.
    • CP: Trust your church leadership to wisely manage God’s money.
  8. I have no control over my finances. My husband does. In this case (and it’s almost always a wife in this position) her husband controls the finances and although the wife wants to give, he prohibits it.
    • CP: Rest in the Lord, He knows your heart.
  9. I will tithe when I can afford it.
  10. I’m afraid to. These people honestly fear what might happen to them or their family if they give.
    • CP: Step out in faith knowing that God promises to meet your needs.

What reasons have you heard people use to justify not giving or tithing?

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Rebecca Littlejohn

    Regarding #3, the New Testament actually encourages us to give it all, not just ten percent. So that’s a pretty risky excuse to lean on!

    • Rebecca, you are exactly right. It’s all His in the first place.

  • Tony Isaac

    The reasons you’ve given seem to play more on people’s emotions than scriptural proof.

    I will start with your 3rd point. You actually didn’t provide any scriptural proof in support of New Testament tithing. The truth is, it is just not there. The usual answer I hear constantly is Jesus did abolish the law and that is very true. However, if the law has not been abolished why then do we not still observe all of it? Why have we only singled out the tithe and conveniently banished all other aspects of the law? That is double standard in my opinion.

    That aside, if we follow the trail let by scriptures about tithing we will see how far removed from scripture today’s views on the tithe are. The major reason I hear that is used in support of tithing today is that it precedes the law in that Abraham tithed to Melchizedek before the law. But we also forget that circumcision also precedes the law and why is it not also taught today? Another thing that is overlooked is; Abraham gave this voluntarily and he did not become better off for doing it nor would he have been worse off if he didn’t do it. He didn’t get any commendation from God for doing it either.

    The tithe mentioned in the book of Malachi refers exclusively to the tithe of the law. It was part and parcel of the 613 Old Testament laws. It was exclusively the TENTH part of agricultural produce grown within the land of Israel alone and never money. And this was not because money was absent as the children of Israel were allowed to buy back their tithes but had to pay its monetary value plus 20%. Those who lived far away from the venue of the tithing banquet were also allowed to convert their tithes into money and spend every single penny on wine, strong drink or on anything they liked.

    Nowhere in the New Testament do we see the tithe taught as the giving standard instead we are all enjoined to give as we are able be it 1% or 100%.

    God bless.

    • So you missed where Jesus said you should give a tithe?

      “This you should have done…”

      • Tony Isaac

        Jesus’ audience was jews who were still under the law. And the context of the discuss was not on why the NT church should tithe but the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.

        This does not build a case for NT tithing any more than Jesus’s command to the leper He healed to go show himself to the priest and offer the sacrifice Moses commanded.

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  • Consumer debt (non-mortgage debt) is crippling the church. I recently read a stat that about 2-3% of all evengelical americans actually “tithe”. That stat is probably a little low for my congregation, however the consumer debt is an issue.

  • Kay Lynn Harris Jones

    On tithing, I heard a pastor say he understood why is members didn’t tithe. The cost of living has gone up and salaries have either stayed the same or gone down yet the tithing has stayed the same 10%. His church was in the position of either tithe or feed my kids. opinion please on this thinking.

    • Paul

      Hello Kay,

      My wife and I were at this crossroads at the beginning of 2015 when we heard something Bill Hybels said that made so much sense. Basically there are only two types of people when it comes to tithing, and they are both idiots; the idiots who tithe and the idiots who don’t. Both sides see the other side as an idiot for what they see as irrational behavior. The real choice is, which idiot will you be? (We’ve been both!)

      • Mahala77

        where is a like button , when you need one? great point Paul!

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  • Great post, Charles. I particularly enjoyed point three, spirituality hasn’t been downgraded. I also find it hard to use the law as a reason to tithe or not to tithe; either way, Jesus eliminated the curse of the law but not the sense of it. Tithing is still a good idea if a person wants to be a contributor.

    • Thx Ennis. Thanks for your comment.

    • Bruce Nicola Jr.

      When I read Malachi 3:8-10 I don’t hear God saying tithing and giving offerings are simply “a good idea.” The message of Malachi is much stronger than that. And if you liked #3 then you would have to agree that tithing is much more important that just a good idea.

      • thanks Bruce!

      • Good point Bruce!

      • James Raifsnider

        There has been a change of covenant or agreement with God. The Old Covenant was physical, material and performance based. The New Covenant is spiritual and based on grace received through faith. There are no curses stipulated in the New Covenant. It is a covenant for the “forgiveness of sins” – not their direct punishment. It is a covenant where all the curses due to us have been borne by Jesus Christ on the cross.

        (Galatians 3:10-15 NKJV) For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” {11} But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” {12} Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.” {13}Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), {14} that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

        We are redeemed from the curse of the Law. The curses that came for not following what the Law says (verse10 above). We are redeemed from all theses curses including the curses for not tithing. If we are redeemed from it then Jesus Christ has paid the price, there is absolutely NO ground for any curse to alight. We are free. There are no curses on Christians if they do not tithe.

        What about blessings for tithing? Why did Christ become a curse for us “that the blessings of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith”. Blessings in the New Covenant are not received through law-keeping but through faith. As we saw earlier, because of our sinful nature law-keeping does not work, we only end up under the curse for law-breaking “for as many as are the works of the law are under a curse”. Works of law only end up in condemnation not justification. A new way to be blessed had to be found – the way of Abraham – the way of faith.

        Ephesians 1:3 is an astonishing and mind-boggling verse:

        (Ephesians 1:3 NKJV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,

        It’s past tense- we already have received “every spiritual blessing”! Itstotal “EVERY spiritual blessing”. It’s exalted “in the heavenly places”. It’s Christ-centered “in Christ”. We have the blessings of Abraham through faith and all the spiritual blessings in the heavenly realms through being in Christ Jesus.

        Tithing simply cannot add to those blessings. Law-keeping such as tithing cannot reach half-way. Performance and sacrifices are out as means of blessing. Tithing, sacrificing, law-keeping and spiritual performances in the Temple are Old Covenant and no longer apply for attaining righteousness which is the source of all true blessing. Let me explain that last phrase a bit more.

        Blessing is God’s favour resting on your life. To have God’s favour you have to be in right standing with God. You have to be righteous. The Jews valued righteousness because it brought blessing from a holy God. “According to my righteousness you have rewarded me” is a common theme in Psalms for instance. (Psalms 18:20 NKJV) The LORD rewarded me according to my righteousness; According to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me.

        Under the Old Covenant blessings would come to the righteous and punishment and cursing to the wicked. A God who blessed the wicked or who failed to reward the righteous was unthinkable. Tithing was a righteous act which brought favour and blessing. This is still taught in Judaism today.

        In Christ however we receive our righteousness – in fact we receive the righteousness of Jesus Christ Himself – through faith, and not through the performing of righteous acts such as tithing. Because we have the very righteousness of Christ we also receive the blessings appropriate to that level of righteousness – “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms”. We have Christ’s righteousness and Christ’s blessings through faith and therefore we do not need to tithe in order to be blessed.

        The Christian life is “from faith to faith” we are blessed because of our faith and we appropriate those blessings by faith – no by performing works of merit such as tithing. The Galatians tried to add works of merit (in this case circumcision) to faith and this is the response they got from the apostle Paul.

        (Galatians 3:1-5 NKJV) O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? {2} This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? {3} Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? {4} Have you suffered so many things in vain; if indeed it was in vain? {5} Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?;

        Paul’s challenge to the Galatians “Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” is very appropriate to tithing. We don’t go up a notch as a Christian by tithing. We are not perfected by the flesh – by works of merit, by works of the law. Miracles do not occur by works of the law – but by “hearing with faith”. Hebrews says’ for the law made nothing perfect”. (Hebrews 7:19) So if the entire law made nothing perfect, one segment of it, – tithing certainly will not perfect you!

        Righteousness is from God , in Christ, through faith. Therefore blessing, which in a just world must be based on righteousness, is from God, in Christ, through faith.

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  • Terry Dorsett

    Charles, may I have permission to repost this on my blog? http://www.terrydorsett.com

    • Sure, just please use appropriate attribution. Thx

    • Yes you can. Just please use appropriate attribution. Thx

      • Terry Dorsett

        Great, thanks! It will run one day next week with a link back to this post and a small bio from your biography page.

  • SAHuisvrou

    Been tithing a long time on our bruto.

    But going through financial difficult times right now. Our country is in an economical recession, our income stayed the same for four consecutive years now, despite high inflation rates. During this time, I’ve been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease which puts tremendous stress on our finances due to medications, blood tests and dietary changes.

    All this really makes cutting on the tithe a huge temptation….not that we did or will consider, just that sometimes going through financial turmoil can cause people to cut back or altogether stop giving.

    • Thanks for sharing and I agree that sometimes extenuating circumstances can affect our giving.

  • Sumit Joshi

    some people dont tithe because they think that the church is rich
    church has lots of money …Pastor is rich enough …

  • James Raifsnider

    Preacher: You tithe on the first ten percent of your income.

    Gods Word: You tithe on crops, and every tenth animal that passes under the rod. NOT the first, but the tenth. See Leviticus 27:30-33. Preachers are mixing firstfruits with the tithe and they are NOT the same. In Nehemiah 10:37-38 we learn that the firstfruits were taken to the temple for the priests, and the tithe was taken to the Levites to go into their cities.

    Preacher: The Levites worked full-time at The Temple.

    Gods Word: The Levities and priests were divided into 24 courses and they rotated working at The Temple one week out of every 24 weeks. Therefore, the priests and Levites actually worked at The Temple about two weeks a year. The rest of the time they had regular jobs. See First Chronicles 24 for the priests and chapters 25 and 26 for the Levites.

    Preacher: You tithe the BEST to God.

    Gods Word: You tithe every tenth animal whether that animal be good OR BAD. See Leviticus 27:30-33.

    Preacher: The firstfruits of your income belong to God.

    Gods Word: In the Old Testament, every time a firstfruits offering is mentioned it is referring to the first of the crop, assets that came from Gods hand, not mans labor. Firstfruits offerings has nothing to do with income.

    Preacher: The tithe was taken to The Temple.

    Gods Word: The tithe was taken to the Levites to go into their cities. See Nehemiah 10:37-38.

    Preacher: Malachi 3:10 Take all the tithes to the storehouse.

    Gods Word: The Levites received the tithe, and they were required to take a tenth of the tithe to the priests. ONLY that tithe went to the storehouse, NOT the tithe from the people. Again, see Nehemiah 10:37-38.

    Preacher: You are robbing God if you dont bring your tithe to the church. Malachi 3:8-10.

    Gods Word: The priests were robbing God, not the people. The priests robbed God of the tithe by stealing the Levites portion (Nehemiah 13). The priests robbed God of the offerings by giving the worst and keeping the best (Malachi 1).

    God defined His tithe in Leviticus 27:30-33 as HOLY. How can anyone change Gods definition and then call a tenth of their income a HOLY tithe!