Last week, I earned $500, so put $50 in the offering. This week I lost $200. Should I take $20 out? After all, I’m supposed to give a tenth of the increase to God. If my increase is negative, somehow I should get a rebate.
No. I would expect that anyone taking money out of the offering plate would be charged with theft or at least ejected from the premises.
You have brought up a point that illustrates a serious problem with those who teach and preach tithing for modern day church members. Consider the following verses:
And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S: it is holy unto the LORD.(Leviticus 27:30)
And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD. (Leviticus 27:32)
The case of the apples
According to these Bible verses, it you grew apples, you presumably started the season with zero apples. At the end of the season, you have 100 apples. That means that your tithe would be 10 apples. Notice a couple things:
- The cost of producing the apples is irrelevant. One grower may only have bought fertilizer to fertilize once, while another had to fertilize three times, spray insecticide, hire illegal Mexicans to do some trimming and buy other supplies. Regardless of what it cost to grow 100 apples, the tithe was ten apples. If the going price of an apple happens to be 50 cents, and it cost the first farmer 25 cents to produce it, the 10 apple tithe costs $2.50 and represents an opportunity cost of $5.00.If the second farmer had to spend 60 cents to produce each apple, his tithe costs $6.00 and represents an opportunity cost of $5.00. The King James scriptures do not distinguish between the value or the profitability of the tithe: it isn’t money. Each farmer produced 100 apples and therefore owes 10 apples as their tithe.
- Although financially, an apple tither could lose money on a crop while still owing a tithe, a negative increase is impossible. At the beginning there are zero apples. The worst case scenario is crop failure, in which case the increase is 0 apples and the tithe is 0 apples. There is no way to grow negative amounts of apples in a season. However, a farmer could have spent $500 on supplies trying to grow apples for that season, resulting in a financial negative increase of $500 and a negative tithe of $50. But that’s the point: the tithe was increase in fruit or cattle, not money.
- Finally, notice that the tithe is over a season of growth, not a week.
The manmade doctrine of New Testament tithing
Since you are following a doctrine of man and putting in 10% of your gross income every week, you have introduced some serious issues. The first being that tithing as we now know it is a doctrine of man, not a doctrine of the Bible scriptures.
But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. (Matthew 15:9)
Those who make up doctrine introduce instability into the system. God’s way has no flaws, but man’s ways are quite obviously flawed.
We now give offerings in the form of cash. this can leave the matter of “increase” up to bookkeeping and accounting tricks. The same business operated by two different people could easily come up with two different values for gross income, especially if tax considerations come into play. Where once the tithe was objective, it is now subjective.
Another problem is the period over which the tithe is calculated. Over two weeks, the cumulative tithe in our example would be $30. However, you put in $50 last week, so now you have over paid. Typically, there is no refund or rebate process for church members who have negative increases.
The third week
You need to think about what you should do on the third week. Suppose you make $300 gross in your third week. According to man-made doctrine, you owe $30 as a tithe. Do you put that in, or do you deduct the negative tithe of $20 from the week before (since you weren’t allowed to take $20 out of the offering plate) and put in $10? I don’t know.
A preacher that espouses modern tithing probably would respond saying that you shouldn’t get all tied up in the math and that you should be giving from your heart anyway. Therefore, you shouldn’t mind kicking in the extra $20. You may not mind giving the extra $20, but this whole tithing idea wasn’t yours, it was his. Therefore, he should explain how it works.
New Testament giving
If you were following principles of New Testament giving, your question would be moot. The Bible scriptures say that you should give as the Lord prospered. When He yields prosperity, you make an offering; when He doesn’t give prosperity, than you don’t. The subject of mathematics plays no role.
Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him… (1 Corinthians 16:2)