Tithing vs. Volunteering

About two years ago I stumbled across a message board where someone had posted the virtues of tithing and further proclaimed what he/she received in return (meaning a blessing where he/she received some unexpected gift).  And a few others posted their comments about tithing and what wonderful things have happened to them.

Okay, that’s fine and dandy.  Should you be tithing just to “receive” some recognition, some benefit because of your good deed?  And, if tithing is a worthy practice, what about volunteering?  To me it’s easy to write a check or donate by credit/debit card.   It’s tougher to roll up your sleeves and do “grunt work” or “work in the weeds.”

If someone contributes only 5% to his local church but also volunteers with the church (and outside the church), would God look less favorably on this individual because he’s not giving 10% of his income?  We all know that time is money.

Volunteering is much more personal versus writing a check or making a donation by credit/debit card. I believe one should balance one’s deeds with monetary contributions and volunteering.

I’m volunteering presently in two capacities:  as a lector at church and as a volunteer at the Washington Youth Garden (at the U.S. National Arboretum).   My volunteer activities in the past have ranged from usher at The Shakespeare Theatre, volunteer at a soup kitchen, volunteer at the Green Festival and volunteer at a food distribution center.   Some activities are more educational, others cultural and still others community oriented.   I’m not going to assign “values” to different types of volunteer activities.  The point is – to volunteer.

Consider what James says in 2:14 – 17 (NIV)

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?  Can such faith save him?  Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to him, “Go I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Deeds can be tithing or volunteering.  You give either way – money or time/talent.



  1. Karen said,

    May 1, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    Thank you for asking this question! My teen asked me about the difference between tithing and serving and I told him to ask our pastor when he got a chance. He is too young to make any notable money (we don’t pay for family duties or daily self-expectations), but he feels compelled to contribute to church goals and the many benefits of being a member of our congregation. I give him 1/8 of my tithes each week and allow him to turn in any hustle blessings I receive on the last week.

    My son asked our pastor in a group session about tithes and servitude, but it was insisted that tithes and skills are separate categories. I suppose most people assume he is receiving an allowance and so the answer is to submit to a financial sacrifice. It’s a sticky question to answer for a child. A tenth of zero is zero, but then what would happen to a congregation of majority being children? I keep telling him that servitude is more than signing up and squatting in a council chair. Time IS money. It definitely is easier to make a financial deposit. Personally, I feel as though we should be doing both, but that isn’t an option for a child.

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