Is 10% the Same for Everyone?

Print Friendly

True or False

10% – it doesn’t matter if you are rich or if you are poor because 10% is 10% and affects everyone equally.

Photo by Mr. Kris.

I question if giving 10% of everyone’s income impacts everyone equally.

Let’s take shopping as an example:

Assume that last week you bought a bag of rice.  That bag of rice cost you $2.00.  However, through the week due to several different factors, rice went up 15%.  That 15% impacts everyone equally because it is standardized across the board, right?  Rice now costs $2.30.  However, I would contend that if you make $4,000 a month, that 15% increase of $30 cents is less significant to you than the person who makes $15 per week (more than the average of the world’s poor).  That 15% increase is felt more drastically by the world’s poor.

Now let’s apply that to giving 10%.  If you make $4,000 and give $400, that would be the exact same as making $40 and giving $4, right?  Let’s imagine that $40allowed your family to buy 15 bags of rice per month.  Now, however, you choose instead to buy 13 bags so you can give.  My proposition is the poor feel the impact of giving more than the wealthy.  The wealthy might sacrifice luxuries while the poor often sacrifice necessities.

Interestingly, the poor (at least the third world poor in Papua New Guinea) often give more percentage-wise than the world’s wealthy.  Moreover, giving is done joyfully.  I have learned more about giving from the poor than I did from the wealthy.

In Matthew 18:21-22, Peter asks how many times he should forgive his neighbor.  Interestingly Jesus tends to always raise the standard of our expectation.  He always wants us to go deeper and to be transformed even more.  What do you think Jesus would say if the question was about tithing?  “Jesus, how much should I give?  10%”.  Either Jesus would say – it doesn’t matter, give with your heart, a certain %, or more than you are today.  How you think Jesus would answer that question dictates how you give.

Unfortunately, some of us see giving 10% as paying up to God what we owe – like a weekly invisible bill.  Once we have paid up we are right in God’s eyes.  Tithing is more than paying a weekly church bill.  The Bible never intended to limit tithing to 10%, but intends to encourage all of us to grow in the grace of giving.

For this reason I introduced readers to the concept of the graduated tithe.  This provides an opportunity for those who want to give more than luxuries (or even more of our luxuries).  It is not a biblical requirement, but a spiritually healthy option to consider.


  1. says

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post. I’m glad you shared your learnings about giving from what you’ve seen first hand in the mission field.

    The generosity of the poor you talk about reminds me of the Macedonian beleivers Paul references in 2 Corinthians 8. Those believers gave out of the extreme poverty.

    I so often view my generosity as so difficult when in reality I’m giving up luxury not necessity.
    .-= JT@RedeemingRiches´s last blog ..Friday Finance Round Up – July 10, 2009 =-.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *