Should I tithe on my gross or net income?

A board member of a a church I served was always insistent about finding the best value for our dollars. His personal life was much the same. I nicknamed him, good-naturedly, Frugal Joe. I admire frugal, I do not like cheap. My uncle, who loves international travel, said he was going to spend the extra money to upgrade to business class on a flight to Egypt. The extra cost of the wider, leather seats for such a long flight was valuable to him. A frugal person knows that the value of a product is not necessarily measured by its cost. So, when he makes a purchase, he looks for the product that will best serve his needs within a range of costs. A person living on the cheap looks for the lowest price, sacrifices quality just to save a dime.

seekfirstDo you try to serve God cheaply?  Are you trying to enjoy the joy of knowing His blessings but with minimal cost to yourself? Christianity on the cheap is about ‘religious duty’ and lacks appreciation of what it means to delight in the LORD.  This kind of Christian shows up late and leaves early, so to speak.  When it comes to loving and serving God the idea of “good enough!” has no place. How can we think we can truly serve God on the cheap?

The people of Jerusalem at the time of Malachi’s ministry, were enjoying an era of prosperity and peace. As happens often in such circumstances, their devotion waned, their love of Self grew.  They became half-hearted in devotion, practicing a kind of ‘cheap’ worship.  What did the LORD think about that?  Malachi preached that He was insulted!  “The Lord Almighty says to the priests: “A son honors his father, and a servant respects his master. I am your father and master, but where are the honor and respect I deserve? You have despised my name! … “You defile them by saying the altar of the Lord deserves no respect. When you give blind animals as sacrifices, isn’t that wrong? And isn’t it wrong to offer animals that are crippled and diseased? Try giving gifts like that to your governor, and see how pleased he is!” says the Lord Almighty. …

“I wish that someone among you would shut the Temple doors so that these worthless sacrifices could not be offered! I am not at all pleased with you,” says the Lord Almighty, “and I will not accept your offerings. … “you dishonor my name with your actions. By bringing contemptible food, you are saying it’s all right to defile the Lord’s table. You say, ‘It’s too hard to serve the Lord,’ and you turn up your noses at his commands,” says the Lord Almighty. “Think of it! Animals that are stolen and mutilated, crippled and sick-presented as offerings! Should I accept from you such offerings as these?” asks the Lord. “Cursed is the cheat who promises to give a fine ram from his flock but then sacrifices a defective one to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is feared among the nations!” Malachi 1:5-14 NLT Their worship was a matter of obligation rather than love. What should have been a privileged honor,  became a burden. They did the minimum required to keep up appearances. Their hearts were not in what they did! God was offended by what He saw as contempt for His Person!

Christianity on the cheap is an insult to the Creator, Provider, Savior, and Lord!  If we cut corners in those things we do in service to God, if we go to prayer and think about everything and everyone but the Lord, if we sing songs of ‘worship’ as a matter of rote recitation, if we go to church but mentally walk the golf course – we are offending the One who deserves our best, our ‘utmost for His highest.’  (Oswald Chambers).

Jesus says that cheap devotion (an oxymoron) is unacceptable.  He commands us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’” (Mark 12:30, NIV) Anything less than our best – in thought, word, and deed- is an offense to the King of the Universe.

Let’s get practical.  When you write your offering check, is it a minimum amount or a generous gift that honors God?
When you go to corporate worship do you come exhausted or do you come with a focused heart that is ready to sing, to pray, to hear the Word?
In your daily worship what is your motivation- to adore the Lord or just to check off the box that says, “Duty fulfilled”?
Only a fool tries to offer God anything less than his best: because He demands and deserves it.

Here’s the word from the Word – “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13, NIV)

By the way, that title question misses the point of giving to God, don’t you think?


All I once held dear,
Built my life upon,
All this world reveres,
And wars to own,
All I once thought gain
I have counted loss;
Spent and worthless now,
Compared to this.

Now my heart’s desire
Is to know You more,
To be found in You,
And known as Yours,
To possess by faith
What I could not earn;
All surpassing gift of righteousness.

Oh to know the power of Your risen life,
And to know You in Your sufferings,
To become like You
In Your death, my Lord;
So with You to live, and never die.

Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You,
There is no greater thing.
You’re my all, You’re the best,
You’re my joy, my righteousness,
And I love You, Lord.

Knowing You
Kendrick, Graham
© 1993 Make Way Music (Admin. by Music Services)CCLI License No. 810055

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