Tithing and Business
NCW 20, June 1995
Q. I run a business. I pay tax to the government on my profit. Should I pay tithe after paying tax or before? Can what I earn before tax really be said to be mine? Or is "mine" what I have left over after tax (since I'm not free to keep back what the government demands)? Is what we pay to the state a kind of debt?
This is again a difficult question. Do we pay tax on what we own after the government has taken its "share"? Nowadays tax is deducted even before it is paid to an employee so that it is the employer who actually pays the tax. The scriptures say that Abraham paid 10% on his increase. Has our wealth actually increased before we pay tax or is our increase what is left after tax?
Strictly speaking the state should pay a 10% tithe on its increase from the civilian population but it does not recognise God, so it doesn't pay it. The priests in the Old Covenant were required to pay 10% tithing out of the tithing they received from the people so that everyone was given the opportunity to give a tenth of what God had given to him.
In a way we get back what we pay to the state in terms of services like schooling. So we are actually paying for something we want with our increase, so should that not be tithed? In which case, should we not tithe before we pay taxes?
We return to the dilemma of nett vs. gross tithing and also to another question: is tithing an obligation on our part or is it a free will offering? We know that any work of the law does not make us right with God (righteous) (Rom.4:4ff, NIV). Tithing is required of those not practicing the United Order but paying it does not make us right with God. It is our faith in God that makes us right with Him; it is our desire to please Him that justifies us, but not the payment itself.
The key to this and related questions must be: (1) Do you wish to honour the Lord by paying a tithe? and (2) What does your conscience tell you is the correct method as you study the scriptures and seek to obey them? Let us "keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience" (1 Tim.3:9, NIV). For "love...comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith" (1 Tim.1:5, NIV).
Let every member judge according to his or her conscience, and let no member judge another in this matter but respect his freedom (1 Cor.10:29).
This page was created on 2 May 1998
Last updated on 2 May 1998
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