Should the Poor Give?

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When I use the word tithe on this site, I refer to it as the disciplined habit of giving.  I know that when you hear the word tithe you might hear me saying a 10% gift to your local church where God will bonk you on the head if you don’t give.  I don’t mean tithe in that ways, so when you read the word tithe please insert my definition not your own :).

Should the Poor Give? 

Ultimately this question is impossible to answer until you first establish why people give or should give.

If, for example, you determine that giving is a legal requirement of all Christians then your answer will be yes – all Christians rich or poor, must give. 

I’ve always promoted a healthy view of giving so here’s why I believe people should give:

  1. Giving is an appropriate response to the Gospel.  It imitates the nature of our giving Father.
  2. Giving is a spiritual discipline and through the process of giving we become more Christ-like
  3. Giving is a spiritual discipline and through the process of giving take money off the pedestal of our lives and reaffirm the Lordship of Jesus Christ. 

If in Christian giving, as I suggest, we imitate the nature of our Father, we become more Christ-like, and we reaffirm the Lordship of Jesus Christ then I would say, yes, the poor should give.  That’s the same reason why I think people in debt should give

Asking if the poor should tithe is like asking, “should busy people pray?”  Perhaps some might think that since we are so busy we should not pray.  But, no matter how busy we are prayer is an essential part of being a Christian.

Should the Church Manipulate the Poor and Force Them To Tithe?

I didn’t do a very good job wording that question in a neutral way.  Sorry.  My opinion is hard to suppress.

I have seen is preachers take their Bible (metaphorically) and bash everyone over the head for not giving 10%.  Unfortunately, this often happens when the church is setting a new budget, building a new church, or a church leader thinks he needs a raise (excuse my sarcasm). 

Guilt has always been a powerful motivator.  Sometimes guilt motivates more than any other emotion.  I once asked a youth group why they decided to be baptized.  100% said they were afraid to go to hell.  That fear is a legitimate thing, but what is pulling us into relationship with Jesus Christ?  How would my wife respond if I told her that I married her because I was afraid that otherwise I was going to get stuck marrying lady X?

Guilt is a terrible reason to give.  Don’t use guilt to motivate the poor to give.

A very common giving theology amongst the third world poor (at least in PNG) is that people give to get.  I’m not sure that is the healthiest giving motive.  If you understand what the reward is – then it can be a healthy motive.  However, many people give so that one day they can walk out the door in the morning to see 30x, 60x, or even 100x what they have given to the church returned.  I believe that God will reward giving, but just not in the same currency (that is our post for next week).

Don’t use false promises to motivate the poor to give.

Don’t Forget Some Poor People Always Want to Share in the Joy of Giving

I think when people bring up the question of the poor giving they often overlook the fact that sometimes the poor want to give because it is more blessed to give than receive.

I was once helping a young man make a budget.  He makes $18.50 per week.  He gives 20% to the local church.  I felt like telling him to stop.  I felt like scolding him.  But, I didn’t want to discourage his generous heart.

I was reading this article where preachers in Africa want to be able to give more, but the need for giving is removed by gifts from overseas. 

Rich or poor.  Giving is a blessing to the Kingdom of God and to the giver so I do encourage the poor to give.

Do you think the poor should give?


  1. says

    That’s a difficult question to answer.. If a person is giving generously with a pure heart and not under pressure, then it’s true giving. Otherwise, it’s coercion and a form of forcing your influence over another person to make them feel like they need to give. You addressed the ‘fear’ issue well, and I think that if a poor person is giving out of fear, they should stop.

    About your [pointed] question : ) “Should the church force people to tithe” I say a strong no. It should teach about giving and using your resources as a way to honor God – but forcing an individual to tithe (whether rich or poor) isn’t what the church is about.

    Good post!

  2. says

    Your article reminds me of two people who helped motivate me to think more seriously about our giving. We were working with a poor congregation in a squatter settlement in Lae, PNG. We were the only family who could come in their own car.

    One couple (subsistent farmers) came up to the car almost every Sunday as we were leaving to give us a pineapple, a papaya or some other produce from their gardens. I think they gave it as a part of their offering to God for that Sunday, and I learned to accept it that way. There seemed to be a joy that came through in ways beyond their toothless smiles as they gave their gift to us.

    25 years later these people have a special place in my heart, not because of the value of those gifts, but because of the joy I saw in their giving.

    I think that represents what God wants from me, no matter whether my gift to him is put on a collection plate, given to a disadvantaged person, shared with a missionary or is given to the cancer society (or other charity).

  3. says

    I think you’ve given a very balanced view here, Craig. I agree with what you’ve said. I wouldn’t want to hold back the poor from giving if they want to out of love and joy. That would go against Scripture. But I also don’t want to make them feel like they’re forced to give (or use guilt to make them feel that way).

    I think when I’ve written about this subject I tend to emphasize the problem with the guilt-driven tithe or be cursed dribble that’s spread in so many churches. That just gets me so mad that I lose sight of the fact that the poor might just want to give because that’s what God is leading them to do despite their poverty. That’s a beautiful thing.

  4. says

    Should poor give is certainly a difficult question. I think giving is by choice that has nothing to do with your social status and giving not only includes giving in kind but if one cannot afford they might render they services for the community.

  5. says

    Rich or poor, it doesn’t make any difference. Giving is a form of worship, and a person whether rich or poor should only give in that manner. God loves a cheerful giver, and who would want to deny the poor their opportunity to worship cheerfully? Great post!

  6. Kayumba David says

    The poor should not pay Tithe and neither the rich. Tithe giving has nothing to do with man’s response to the Gospel. Tithe ceased at Calvary when the the earthly priesthood came to an end. Believers are under no obligation to give money of any form to the Church organization. They are however free to freely contribute to the the Church’s effort to provide social welfare to the needy and no more.

    God is not interested in our possession but in us. We are the object of His unconditional love.

    • says

      Thanks for your comment.
      Here’s what I said in the post, “When I use the word tithe on this site, I refer to it as the disciplined habit of giving”.

      Do you think that Christians should not give?

      • Kayumba David says

        Christian should not be asked to give,. Because if giving is not a spontaneous response to the needs of the needy and from a heart of love, it becomes merely a show.

        I strongly believe that it is impossible for a true Christian to enjoy luxury and satisfaction of abundance while there are people languishing in poverty. It is a Christian duty to pour out our compassion for others. It is only a Christian duty to Christians; those who have been melted by the cross of Jesus.
        I am currently preparing an article on this subject; I will send it to you for your comment.
        I thank you for this debate.

          • says

            Wow, after reading about half way down I just sekippd the rest.It seems like most people are missing the point of this article. Christians just need to take more personal responsibility for their actions (in this case wearing very revealing clothing items). That’s not saying that the males are off the hook! But it’ll do the men (all ages) a favor by being less of a stumbling block. And it will do all women a favor (again all ages) by not cheapening their self-worth. If you’re an all out I’m going to wear what I want, and I don’t care what you say person, well, no one is stopping you. But it doesn’t change the fact that your choice in swimwear has an affect on the males, and the potential way they value you (or don’t.) God sees past the body and looks straight into your heart. But your body is also a temple and should be regarded as holy, because it is made in God’s image. No matter what you wear, as a Christian, the first question you should always ask is Will this honor God?

        • says

          Hi Michelle,That’s a very good idea, searching this topic out in srrpituce and I must quickly add that I am not in any way opposed to giving money towards God’s work. I am only against this mandatory religious tax which could be burdensome to those with very low incomes.The bible encourages us of the New Testament to give what we can afford and does not mandate a 10% minimum.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 8God bless and please feel free to give me a shout if you need some pointers.

          • Elizabeth L Lemay says

            I am so proud that someone has the ability to see through all of this! I am disabled
            with maneures disease of the nerves. My husband is also not well off we are 68 and
            retired several years ago.we have social security ,making a house payment.,car payment and all utilites . we have 600.00 left out of our checks a month.which I have to buy 9 medicines with, heart, diabetis,lung. our preacher says we will get it back two fold. If we tithe.I give 5.00 a week on Sunday and that even hurts . when we go to grocery store we have to limit to necessities . I’ve tried to explain we don’t have any money and every Sunday we hear were not giving 10% . We are in the process of changing churchs. hopefully for the better. Will someone please explain to these people that old people love God but their not rich.
            Thank you for listening Heart broke family.

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