How much should I tithe?



Well, now; there’s a loaded question.

I wonder how many people read that question and then moved on to the crossword puzzle.

It’s a serious question, however, and one that has been debated for thousands of years. The answer is elusive, else it would have been definitively answered by now. Many people use 10% of their income as a benchmark for determining how much to tithe. If we were to survey Catholics and ask why 10% is the right amount to tithe, I believe they would be hard pressed to answer that question.

But that number didn’t come out of thin air, as it has Biblical roots and comes from the time of Moses. In Leviticus 27:30, we are told that, “All tithes of the land, whether in grain from the fields or in fruit from the trees, belong to the LORD; they are sacred to the LORD.” Note it does not mention the size or value of the tithe. A few verses later we are told that “The tithes of the herd and the flock, every tenth animal that passes under the herdsman’s rod, shall be sacred to the LORD.” (Lev 27:32). One out of 10 = 10 percent.

I guess that’s it, then. Ten percent is the number we should tithe because the Lord told Moses that was what he was looking for. Leviticus also tells us that we can eat winged insects “… that have their legs jointed above their feet for leaping on the ground.” Lev 11:21.

How helpful, then, is Leviticus – the Hebrew book of rules for everyday living? For a Hebrew who was Moses’ contemporary, it was very important. I can tell you that I have never looked to Leviticus to determine if I could eat a winged insect whose legs are jointed below their feet.

Suffice to say that giving a tithe of 10 percent has scriptural background, but it is not the law. It is most useful in being a good place to start. For many of us, that number seems high and makes us uncomfortable. There is something good to be said about being uncomfortable for we – the Church – are wont to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Nonetheless, that number is between you and God. No one is ever going to ask for a financial statement from you, or to look at your paystub or bank account to tell you how much you are to tithe. The decision is yours, coming out of prayer.

Determining what to tithe is just one part of the puzzle. Figuring out who gets what can be enough to make us just stop giving altogether. Now, there is a free tool available for you to use to help you plan your tithing and charitable giving.

We are making available to you our “Catholic Giving Guide Worksheet.” It will help you calculate your tithe, budget for it, and make it manageable. It also lists the second collections that are scheduled for 2021 so you won’t be surprised by a request for help. Finally, if you do this exercise prayerfully, it will ease your mind if you are struggling with how you want to share the gifts God has so generously provided.

If you would like to have a copy of the “Catholic Giving Guide Worksheet,” send an email to me at [email protected]. Let me know your name and address and I will send one to you in the mail, or to your email, whichever you prefer.

Again, the answers you give are between you and God. No one will look at the worksheet unless you show it to them. It will be your story to tell.

Now … on to that crossword puzzle.

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