What is "second tithe"? What is it for? How, when and for what should it be spent? Here are the answers to these often asked questions.
God's true Church keeps His tithing laws! And we are the only group in the world, as far as we know, doing so. God revealed to us" His people, a special system of money management that honors Him and produces abundant blessings for us. As we enter the Feast of Tabernacles season, we should review an important aspect of God's commandments concerning our finances — second tithe. Notice Deuteronomy 14:22-23: "Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year-by-year. And thou shalt eat before the Lord thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the Lord thy God always."
For your own use
Here God tells the people they are to eat of the tithe of their corn, wine and oil. This then is a different tithe from the one used Jo carry out the work of the ministry. The first tithe, since the crucifixion of Christ, is given to the Melchisedec priesthood for the carrying out of the Work of God. It is absolutely forbidden for people to take of that tithe for their own personal use. But this second tithe is for your use. Why? So "thou mayest learn to fear the Lord thy God always" — so you might learn to properly stand in awe of, revere, respect and worship your Creator God at His festivals.
Some rob themselves
God commands that you keep this tithe strictly for your benefit. It is to provide for your Feast expenses — for your transportation, lodging, food, entertainment and pleasure during these days. In spite of all this, some complain about having to save this tithe for their own use. Some save only part of it. Others wait until it's time to leave for the Feast and take their last check or two, pile the children into the car and start out for the Feast, hoping against hope they will have sufficient cash to keep from running up a bill they can't afford to pay. Perhaps this is the very reason some of you are not blessed financially. If you are not paying God His full tithe, as well as faithfully saving your second tithe, you are under a curse. You definitely will not be blessed until you begin to keep all of God's commandments.
Managing your second tithe
Ancient Israel, a farming nation, was to bring the second tithe of their corn, wine and oil to the place where God set His name (Deut. 14:24-25). If the distance was too great and the produce too bulky, they could sell this tithe and use the money to provide transportation to the Feast and purchase food there. Some of you reading this article are farmers by occupation. You could certainly bring a part of your second tithe in the form of canned or frozen fruits, vegetables or meats, even today. This produce could then be used to provide your meals at the Feast. Others of you work at some trade or occupation to earn your living. You are not paid in produce but with a salary check. A 10th of that check should be laid aside each payday to provide for your expenses to, from and during the Feast. Your second tithe should generally be placed in a bank for safekeeping. Money stuck away in a drawer could be easily stolen. It is usually better to keep this second tithe in a completely separate account from your regular account. That way you will not be as likely to "borrow" (steal) from your second tithe and find yourself in serious trouble. Don't rationalize that you can "borrow" from your second tithe and repay it later. This method usually doesn't work, and you are not being honest with yourself or God. Tithes are to be paid first. Don't miss the Feast and lose out spiritually. Also, by putting your second tithe in a savings account, you can earn a small amount of interest on your account. God expects you to use your second tithe properly and not just "blow it." Anyone can throw money away. In Deuteronomy 14:24-27, God tells you some of the ways in which you are to use your second tithe.
Use — don't abuse — your tithe
One of the chief items, of course, is food. But here the principle is also revealed that transportation to, from and during the Feast, lodging and any Feast-related expense is also included. Let's notice how you should properly use your second tithe. Can you use a portion of your second tithe for automobile repairs to go to the Feast? Can you buy tires or a battery, for instance? Under these circumstances, ask yourself, "Is this expense necessary in order to attend God's commanded Feast, or is it simply work the car needs and this would be an easy way to pay for it?" If your car needs repairs for you to attend the Feast, you may pay a certain portion of the cost from second tithe. Figure the number of miles you drive each year. Then figure what percentage of those miles is driven in attending God's Feasts. If you drive an average of 10,000 miles a year and the mileage driven to attend God's Feast is 2,000 miles, you could pay one fifth of the annual upkeep of your automobile from your second tithe. This principle would apply to tires or any other necessary upkeep of your car. But the most important thing to remember is that you need to attend God's Feast. That is God's command (Ex. 12:17, Deut. 16:16). You could spend the bulk of your second tithe fixing your car and then not have enough money left to pay for your Feast expenses. Obviously this would not be the thing to do. What about buying clothing with second tithe? Normally, you should not plan to buy clothing with your second tithe, except for special types of clothing that would be needed at the Feast but would not normally be a part of your wardrobe. Brethren from warmer climates who travel to the Feast in Calgary, Alta., or Glens Falls, N.Y., have to buy heavier and warmer clothing than they normally need at home. It is all right to use second tithe for clothing under such special circumstances. Rarely should you buy an integral part of your wardrobe with second tithe. However, such an exception might arise in the case of an individual who simply does not have proper clothing to wear to attend God's Feast and could not otherwise afford it. We should all appear before God well groomed and nicely dressed.
Looking to the Millennium
People have asked whether they could buy slipcovers for their furniture, tricycles for their children and a gun or fishing equipment for Dad. Even though these items would not be used primarily at the Feast, they reason that the scripture says you are to buy "whatsoever your soul desires," and their soul certainly desires slipcovers, tricycles and a gun or fishing equipment. This is erroneous reasoning. God is talking about buying whatever you might desire to be used at the Feast — primarily food, drink and good-quality housing. The whole reason for spending your tithe this way is that you may rejoice and look forward to the wonderful time of the Millennium. Then is it wrong to buy gifts for the children and family? No. But use wisdom. You should not buy your child expensive gifts simply because it is from your second tithe. Suitable toys, books or games that will help make the Feast enjoyable for your child are perfectly all right. But do: not buy the year's supply of toys on the way to the Feast. In the meantime, you should teach your child the principles of tithing the year around. If your child is old enough to have a small income from mowing lawns or doing odd jobs around the neighborhood, teach him to pay God's first tithe and to save a second tithe. Regardless of your child's age, teach him how to use money properly by giving him a small amount and guiding him in spending it during the Feast. And before you go to the Feast, think about another explicit command God has given His people: "Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the Lord empty: Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which he hath given thee" (Deut. 16:16-17). God instructs us to show our respect for Him and appreciation for His blessings by giving Him offerings during the Holy Day seasons. When it comes time in services to take up an offering, you should not throw into the basket whatever you think you can spare at the moment. You should consider and prepare for the offering long before you get to services — perhaps even before you go to the Feast. Plan your offerings "according to the blessing" God has given you throughout the year. And remember that "God loveth a cheerful giver" (II Cor. 9:7). Is it right to plan your trip to the Feast so that one or two natural wonders and scenic spots might be included on the way? Since these wonders help us realize the glory of our God, the answer is yes. These side trips might take you slightly off your regular route. But when the trips begin to entail additional hundreds of miles in the opposite direction of the Feast, they should not be taken on second tithe. Some have wanted to detour several hundred miles to see relatives and haven't been too pleased when a minister advised against it. Sometimes it may be all right to plan to see your family before or after the Feast. But such a visit must not be allowed to detract from the main reason for the trip — the observance of God's Holy Days that picture His plan of salvation. If the reason for the trip is to see the family — and, incidentally, you are going to one of God's Festivals — that is wrong.
Use the tithe at home?
What about those who do not have sufficient second tithe to go to the Feast? Can they stay home and use what they have there? Deuteronomy 12:17-18 declares: "Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thy oil... But thou must eat them before the Lord thy God in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose... " God says we must use our second tithe only in going to and from the Feast and for expenses there. During the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the other Holy Days, services may be held right in your own area. In that case, you could use a small amount of your second tithe for expenses of those feasts because that is where God has put His name for those feasts. However, remember that the Feast of Tabernacles is the time when God's Church all gathers together to keep a feast. Never cut yourself short by spending too much money at the other feasts so that you cannot be with God's people at the great Feast in the fall.
Proper use at the Feast
Just how should you use your second tithe in going to the Feast and while you are there? Some families in the past have journeyed to the Feast by sleeping each night in their car. In the morning, they stop at a supermarket, buy some fruit and cereal and eat in the car. At nightfall they once more curl up in the car for a few short hours of uncomfortable, cramped sleep. It wasn't that these people didn't have sufficient second tithe to eat in restaurants and sleep in motels. They simply denied themselves so they could turn in a large amount of excess second tithe after the Feast. They unwittingly disobeyed one of the major commands concerning the Feast. They weren't able to rejoice before God. They stoically deprived themselves of the enjoyable, pleasant time they should have been having. Traveling to and from the Feast, and during the Feast, you should use second tithe in order to eat in good restaurants and stay in nice motels. You should learn to appreciate the finer things that you are not able to afford at other times of the year. In this way, you will learn to appreciate quality; this has a spiritual application for eternity. God expects us to live balanced lives. It is right to use your second tithe to eat in good restaurants and to stay in fine motels. But it isn't right to squander and throwaway second tithe just to get rid of it. God isn't a waster. He doesn't want anyone of us to be, either. Since the Feast is observed in many different locations around the earth, many of you have only short distances to travel to attend. Many with good-paying jobs find they have an abundance of second tithe even after they pay all their expenses. Because of this superabundance, some few bring reproach and ridicule on the Church of God by unthinkingly squandering their money just to get rid of it. They feel they must spend it all on themselves lest they be deprived of what is rightfully theirs.
Excess second tithe
What if you are one of those who was abundantly blessed by God and have an excess of second tithe? You paid your tithe of the tithe, took care of all your needs and still have money left over. What are you supposed to do with it? God's way is the way of giving, sharing and outgoing concern. Jesus said, "... freely ye have received, freely give" and "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Matt. 10:8, Acts 20:35). God repeatedly exhorts us to remember the Levite, the widow, the fatherless, the poor and the stranger within our gates. The Levitical priesthood was replaced by Christ's ministry today. God's ministers do not save a second tithe, even as the Levites didn't. Your excess second tithe helps pay their way to the Feast so they might teach you the plan of salvation. Your extra second tithe also is used by the Church to help some of the elderly or widows who have no second tithe to attend the Feast. God will bless you for allowing someone else to share in your abundance. Let's all look forward to the most marvelous Feast ever by determining right now to be there rejoicing before God. Really enjoy the abundance God gives you. Drive carefully. Pray for the safety of your brethren around the world, and don't forget to thank the loving God who makes your rejoicing at the Feast possible through the second tithe He gives to you.