Giving according to what you have and not what you earn

I promised myself not to write on tithing anymore but have had to break this promise yet again due to some rather strange tithe teachings making their rounds on the internet.

Scripture says one thing but people either ignorantly or deliberately twist it to say something else to suit their purpose. And this is quite disheartening.

I stumbled upon the blog of some preacher who had started a “tithing challenge” in his church. He defended his actions with a lot of scripture twisting and personal opinions. The one that really got to me was his interpretation of 2 Corinthians 8. As far as he was concerned, Paul’s charge to the church in Corinth to give whatever they could afford according to what they had meant that they were supposed to give beyond 10%.

12 Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have. 13 Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves. I only mean that there should be some equality. 2 Corinthians 8

How can one read the above scripture and come away saying Paul meant they should give beyond 10%? Quite mind-boggling!

There is a whole world of difference between what you have and what you earn. Paul’s charge was that everyone should give according to what they had and not what they earned; a common mistake we make in today’s church. Many insist and believe that proportionate giving means giving a portion of what you earn when in fact scriptures calls it giving according to what you have.

I will explain with this illustration. We have 2 men, Bill and Luke, who both earn £1200 every month. Bill is unmarried and lives alone in a one bedroom flat.  While Luke on the other hand is married with 2 children, his wife is a full-time housewife and they live in a 2 bedroom house. Even though both men earn the same will they have the same leftover after they have met all necessary financial obligations?

Below is a breakdown of the income and expenditure for both men

Monthly expenses for Luke
Wages

1200

Rent

750

Utilities

200

feeding

100

Transportation

100

 Total expenses

1150

Amount left

50

Monthly expenses for Bill

Wages

1200

Rent

550

Utilities

120

feeding

60

Transportation

100

  Total expenses

830

Amount left

370

Assuming they keep to their budgets, both men can never spend the same amount on monthly necessities and both will never have the same amount of money leftover either. It will be a huge burden on Luke to insist that he gives 10% of what he earns, even more wicked to insist that he gives 10% of what he earns before tax. This will leave a lot of his bills unpaid and remember he has 2 young children.

Some will insist that he gets another job or that his wife should work. That is a decision he has to make by himself and it is not a decision a pastor or a well-meaning brother should make on his behalf. And besides, Luke and his wife worked out that should his wife work; all she earns will go towards childcare costs. Others will say his tithing is proof of his love for God and God will reward him according. I say that is a very bad and silly advice.

The charge in scripture is “give according to what you have” and if that is up to 10%, it is all good. God will never punish anyone unable to give up to 10% as He never instituted it as the absolute minimum one must give.

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Matt Giles
    Sep 28, 2011 @ 17:21:47

    I am said “preacher”, and I actually appreciate the discussion. My issue with our local church was not the percentage but the sacrifice. Should it be joyful sacrifice, absolutely. I think the 10% number is a great test to evaluate joyful sacrifice, if and when you can get there. I would direct you to 2 Corinthians 8, not 9 which is actually what you quoted, where Paul calls them to give generously which is exactly what I am challenging the followers of Christ in our local body to do. I would love to hear your thoughts on their sacrificial giving.
    Also, I think that your illustration of giving of what you have left leaves a lot of context on the table and neglects a lot of biblical teaching. Seek first the Kingdom of God. You are taking God promises of providing for those who put him first for granted such as Matthew 6:19-34. Take a look, I like the discussion and am interested in your perspective. I have never “insisted” anything of anyone. Let the Holy Spirit lead you to sacrificial first fruits giving. The last thing I would ever want to do is guilt someone but I am called to challenge someone to carry their cross just as I am trying to do.

    Reply

    • eliteinchrist
      Sep 28, 2011 @ 19:33:45

      Hi Matt,

      Thanks for the response. In all honesty, 10% could be a test to you but not one the bible prescribes. And I was actually quoting 2 Cor 9: 7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

      There is so much emphasis on “the work of God”, “giving to God” etc. as if God needs our money. And this is unfortunately overemphasized to the detriment of personal welfare. Even Jesus chided the Pharisees for encouraging people to neglect their parents in favour of bringing money to the temple. Paul even had stronger words for those who do not take care of their families; they were worse than unbelievers and have denied the faith.

      Does seeking God’s Kingdom first mean giving away everything one owns?

      My stance is simple. Our works of piety, including sacrificial giving does not commend us unto God and as a responsible individual, one has a responsibility to one’s family first. Even Paul did say to Timothy to encourage children to take care of their widowed mothers so that they do not become a burden to the church. And after you’ve done that, you can give to a needy brother. Charity has to begin at home.

      Reply

      • Perry Martin
        Nov 24, 2011 @ 00:23:33

        What about Jesus request of the Rich Young Ruler, to give everything away and follow him. Jesus said any one who did so would receive a hundred fold return including persecution. Was Jesus just kidding?

      • eliteinchrist
        Nov 24, 2011 @ 10:48:18

        And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. Mathew 19: 29.

        Are you also positing that in addition to receiving a 100 fold wealth we will also get a 100 fold wives?

    • eliteinchrist
      Oct 05, 2011 @ 16:56:34

      Hi Pastor Matt,

      I only just realised that you thought it was you I was referring to in this post. It wasn’t you but another preacher. Your post I commented on was written 5 days after I wrote this post.

      Thanks

      Reply

    • Perry Martin
      Nov 24, 2011 @ 00:41:18

      Pastor, I believe that there is the tithe and there is tithing. One is the gift and one is the act of faith and praise unto God in the giving of the Gift. Gift may not be the right word to use but sacrifice seems overstating since I believe that the first tenth of the fruit of my labor is Gods anyway. It is not a choice for me, I am simply giving God what is his. Of course I believe under the new covenant that every thing I have is Gods and everything of God’s is mine thru Christ. Paul in Philippians 4:10-20 specifically vs 17 when Paul says ” I am not looking for a gift but I am looking to what may be credited to your account.” Paul said I have found the secret of being content or self-sufficient in Christ. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. But it is good of you to share in my troubles. I tithe a tenth to me that is 10% of my gross or anything that comes into my house or my ministry. I may not be good at math but God has always blessed what I have Given both in my tithes and offerings.

      Reply

  2. Eji
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 21:39:39

    I am very much interested in this discussion. I have some questions for the “pastor” who is challenging his members to give. Is God our father? What did pastor do to or for his father to be fed when he was a little boy? What did he do to or for his father to be given education? What did he do to or for his father to be given shelter? These questions are simply answered by all and they say the same thing.

    Jesus said “if you wicked fathers know how to give good gifts to your children how much more your heavenly father give to those who ask Him”. Giving does not prove that I love God or trust him. Infact one could be a wizard and be the highest giver in his church. What matters to God is your personal relationship with him. If you love God, you will honour and obey him always. That is what God seeks and let all “pastors” carry this message to the church and the world.

    Thanks

    Reply

    • Perry Martin
      Nov 24, 2011 @ 00:26:52

      Yes but 1 Corinthians 9 is very specific about supporting those in the ministry. Jesus himself said to take no food, clothes, or sleeping gear, a minister of the gospel is worth his keep.

      Reply

  3. jesusembrace
    Dec 02, 2011 @ 09:34:44

    I went back to your 2008 post and to my surprise anti-tithing. Now I know that this is your area of self-proclaimed expertise. You are determined I grant you that. I understand in a greater way why we have so many denominations. People will not submit to one belief of what the bible says or means. That is great, as I have stated your reading of the bible as a text book, that only says what you say it says and only means what you or people who agree with you say it means. You give me such a great understanding for the struggles of the church. I don’t know who started you down thus path, but I am sure you agree with them 100%. Do you believe Everything taught by the “Word of Faith” movement is wrong. Is their an overarching conspiracy to steal believers money. The fact you have been on the same point for so long is amazing. I bet when we are in heaven we will find neither of us were completely right or completely wrong.

    Reply

  4. ainouno
    Dec 05, 2011 @ 10:09:32

    Well said and I agree with you Brother.

    Reply

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