The New Testament doesn’t command giving a tithe, but it does command giving! So how much should Christians give? Giving requires wisdom, and here are three New Testament principles to help you determine the amount.
First, Christians Give According to Their Income
Two New Testament verses make the point that the amount Christians give relates to the amount of their income:
- 1 Corinthians 16:2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income.
- 2 Corinthians 8:12 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.
Neither verse states how much Christians give, but they do say that giving should be according to our income.
For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required.Luke 12:48
Although this isn’t speaking directly of finances, the principle applies. If God gives you more, He expects you to give more. It’s completely reasonable that some people should give much more than a tithe (10%).
Second, Christians Give Sacrificially
This is another reason it’s not a good idea for Christians to feel bound to a tithe. For some Christians that would require very little sacrifice.
This principle is important – not just because of what it teaches us about giving – but because of what it teaches us about our relationships with the Lord in general. God doesn’t need our money. His will is accomplished with or without our help. But God allows us to worship Him through giving, and the only way our giving is worshipful is if it involves some sacrifice.
David said, “I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing.”2 Samuel 24:24
One reason God wanted animal sacrifices without blemish is old, sick animals wouldn’t involve any sacrifice.
Those who give much without sacrifice are reckoned as having given little.Erwin Lutzer
David knew a sacrifice that doesn’t involve any sacrifice isn’t really a sacrifice.
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. [Jesus] 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.”Mark 12:41-44
The rich people were said to “put in much,” but the widow put in a tiny amount; a quadrans is about 1/5 or 1/8 of a cent. It makes no sense for Jesus to say the widow “put in more than [all the rich people]” unless we understand He’s not talking about the amount she gave financially. He’s talking about the amount she gave sacrificially.
For those who “put in out of their abundance” no sacrifice is required. But in giving out of the widow’s poverty, there was a lot of sacrifice involved in her giving. The amount given financially isn’t nearly as important as the amount given sacrificially.
God judges what we give by what we keep.George Muller
Third, Christians Give Joyfully
You’re probably saying, “You just said I’m supposed to give sacrificially and now you’re saying I’m supposed to give joyfully. Those two don’t go together!”
God wants our giving to be done joyfully because we should recognize what a privilege it is to give back to Him a little of what He’s given us. With this attitude, even sacrificial giving can be done joyfully.
So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.2 Corinthians 9:7
This verse tells us how TO GIVE and how NOT TO GIVE:
- Paul says not to give “grudgingly or of necessity” but this is what giving was like under the Mosaic Law. They had to give. They gave “of necessity” and possibly “grudgingly” at times.
- Do give as you “purpose in your heart” or as you decide to give. I’m not sure how many things in Scripture God is said to love, but one of those things is “a cheerful giver.” This is the primary reason we don’t “pass the plate” at Woodland Christian Church. We think people should give voluntarily without being compelled. We take this approach and we have no debt, a nice building, and we can pay our missionaries generously.
Hopefully these three, simple principles, can help you determine how much to give!
- Do you agree or disagree with this post?
- How do you determine how much to give?
- Do some verses come to mind that aren’t in the post that help direct your giving?
Share your answers below!
Most of this post is included in my upcoming book, Finances God’s Way.