30 August 2019  |

Dear Aunt Sevvy,

I’m about to retire, and we are selling our house to move closer to our children. My wife says God expects us to pay tithe on the money we received for the house above its listed cost 30 years ago. But our house is really worth no more in current dollars than it was when we bought it, and we need to buy another to live on in our retirement, so I don’t consider it a “profit.” What do you think?

Signed, In Transition

Dear Transition:

To Aunt Sevvy, the question isn’t whether you give some money to the church, but how you’re thinking about it. While the Bible says that we should support the Lord’s work, there’s no simple holy formula for how much to give. The New Testament giving standard is this: “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). 

Tithe is a convenient guideline, and one that many of us use even though it originates in Old Testament law. Church fundraisers say that tithe is a demand by God—which is also how the Pharisees thought of it. That may be why Paul insists that stewardship starts with an attitude of joyful generosity, not a formula or a response to pressure or guilt. 

You’ve faithfully paid tithes and offerings all of your life, and those who work for the church thank you. If it makes you happy, and you can live without it, it would be kind of you to give some extra money to the church—and also fine if you decide not to! Your salvation isn’t affected either way. It comes down to what Paul said: give what makes you happy.

Blessings in your retirement,

Aunt Sevvy

You can write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Please keep questions or comments short. What you send us at this address won’t necessarily be, but could be, published—always without real names. Aunt Sevvy writes her own column, and her opinions are not necessarily those of Adventist Today’s editors.

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