I am studying the topic of tithes. I believe I have a clear understanding, and I read your information regarding tithes. However, how do I explain: 1) Tithing to persons with no regular income, that is, children and youth. For those that have an allowance, I teach them to tithe from whatever they have. But I also encourage them to give groceries to another person, or read the Word of God to someone. Is this a bad analogy? Am I misleading them? 2) Some think that personal time in prayer with God - prayer for the church and its needs is tithing. I said that this is not correct. Can you help me with this issue as well? Can prayer in any form be lifted up to God as a tithe?
God calls us to give to Him in different ways. Tithing is one of those ways.
Children & Youth
First, we need to know that there are no scriptural guidelines for teaching our children and young adults about tithing. God only tells us that our giving should be from our hearts and that He wants us to give as much as we desire. Children and adults learn by doing, as well as by verbal instruction. So I would start by reading and teaching them Jesus’ illustration of the widow who had only two coins left.
Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.” (NASB) Mark 12:41-44
A quadrans is a Roman coin worth about 1/64 of the day’s wages for an agricultural laborer. This means the coin was worth only about 7.5 minutes of labor. The widow did not have very much money left, and she gave it all away. But Jesus does not ask us to give all of our money away. The illustration was given to help us see our hearts. Are we willing to give to others?
Next, I would encourage them to give from whatever money the Lord gives them. They should give – not tithe – as much as they want from their allowances, baby sitting, and gifts of money. If they live on a farm, then gifts of produce, or animals could be given. The Israelites gave from their farms and animals as well as money.
Gifts of Service
In addition to giving, God calls us to give gifts of love to other people by serving, helping, and caring for them, for example. So reading of the Word of God and praying for others would fall in this category.
If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? (NASB) James 2:15-16
Giving and service involve personal sacrifice. Giving is related to money and possessions and service is related to doing something for others that involves personal sacrifice. God wants us to do both.