Q. I have been helping to financially support several family members for the past few years with cash gifts towards their food, clothing, medicine, auto repairs, household goods, vacation money and other expenses. During this time I have not tithed my 10% but have made small donations when attending church. I have been considering my financial support to family members as my tithe, keeping in mind that instead of my tithe going to a church organization for their distribution, I am giving it directly to those in need. Is this Biblically correct or is this not considered proper tithing?
A. It’s important to remember that the tithe is not an obligation, like the power bill or mortgage payment. It’s an expression of our gratitude for all the Lord has given us. Helping those who can’t help themselves in the Lord’s name is an acceptable expression of our gratitude.
Also, In 1 Tim. 5:8 Paul said, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
The assumption here is that the family members are unable to take care of them selves. If that’s the case then I think using part of your tithe money to help them is justified. However, if they could takes of themselves but would rather depend on you, then it’s a different story. The fact that you’ve been doing this for several years and are going well beyond helping with basic necessities makes me wonder if someone is taking advantage of your generosity.