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:
- Giving is an appropriate response to the Gospel. It imitates the nature of our giving Father.
- Giving is a spiritual discipline and through the process of giving we become more Christ-like
- 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?