Proportionate Giving

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Discussions regarding tithing and giving can quickly create a lot of discussion in a room full of Christians.  Many Christians have differing ideas and concepts regarding giving and tithing.  As for me, I’m still learning, seeking, studying, and trying to determine if I can ever completely know God’s will for my personal giving role.  You can read some of my thoughts in the article How Much Should I Give?

I recently read an article in the July 2009 Edition of the Sound Mind Investing Newsletter.  The article titled “Biblical Wisdom for Giving” was written by Garry Friesen and was adapted from his book Decision Making and the Will of God.  In this article I want to introduce you to some of his observations and conclusions.

Friesen promotes an approach to giving called “purposeful, proportionate giving.”

The following scriptures all support the concept of proportionate giving (I added the bold):

For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, (2 Corinthians 8:3 NIV)

Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. (2 Corinthians 8:11 NIV)

For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have. (2 Corinthians 8:12 NIV)

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV)

On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. (1 Corinthians 16:2 NIV)

The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. (Acts 11:29 NIV)

Friesen concludes:

Most Americans should consider 15%, 20%, 40%, or 60% of their income.  Their “abundance” (2 Cor 8:14) should make them abundant givers.

My Reactions:

I agree that one of the most dangerous errors regarding giving is some think that God expects us to pay 10% – no more, no less.  Too many Christians see a tithe like a tax.  If they want to be Christians they need to continue to pay their tax –10%.  I do strongly believe that the tithe (10%) is a starting place as a guide for giving.  However, I believe our giving journey should continually take us further down the road of generosity.  Only you and God know where that road will end.  Moreover, only you and God know the appropriate starting point in the journey to giving.

The 10% only, no more, no less thinking violates the following principles introduced in the Bible verses above:

    1) The amount we give is not determined by an obligation, but by a heart’s desire.
    2) The amount you give will likely be different than the amount your neighbor gives because of different incomes, different abilities to give, and different conditions of your heart.
    3) If Paul wished to set a numeric mark (like a certain %), he would have.

Concluding Thoughts:

The New Testament has never been very effective at letting us off the hook in many areas of our Christian faith.  I think about Peter who wanted to know how many times he should forgive someone who has done wrong against him.  He wanted a mark.  A point where he knew that he was safe with God and a point where he no longer had obligations in forgiveness.  Jesus’ response is obscure at best (77 times or 70 x 7 [Matthew 18:21]).  It seems as though Jesus is saying a lot of times, so don’t bother trying to keep track.  How do you suppose Jesus would have answered the question, “How much should I give?”

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