4 Christ-Honoring Reasons You May Need to Give Less

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I sometimes get emails from people who give that I don’t think should be giving.

Somewhere along the way, they’ve been taught that the way to deal with a huge debt load or a loss of a job is to start giving away crazy amounts of money.

I’ll say upfront that I think this is an irresponsible action for Christians because not all giving in all situations honors God.  Yes, there is a place for risky giving, but there is also a place for responsible giving.

Reasons Why You Might Be Called to Give Less

1.  The Care of Family is Honorable

One of the honorable ways to use money is to provide for one’s own family.  This pleases God much like giving pleases God.

In Mark 7:9-13 Jesus challenges a Jewish practice whereby one might not honor their mother and father (the financial implication is clear in this passage) because their resources are Corban – devoted to the Lord.  Neither Jesus nor God would approve of a decision whereby you dishonor your family in order to give that money instead of providing the needs of your family.

“Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.” 1 Timothy 5:3-4

Paul claims that a way our religion is practiced is through the care of family.  No only is that a way whereby we care for our families, it is a way that we please God.

If a person loses a job or suffers a major financial blow, I think they need to continue to be outward focused, while recognizing their biggest ministry is to their family.  The Parable of the Talents enforces the fact that when God gives us less, he would expect our giving to decrease as well.

2.  You May Have an Unhealthy Giving to Get Theology

A taboo motivation for giving is to get more in the same currency.  The Bible does promise blessings to those who give, but it doesn’t seem to be in the same currency.

Some people who encounter a hard financial time will give in order to get.  They assume that if they owe $10,000 on a debt they can give away $5,000 and God will bring the original $5,000 plus a gracious gift and make it $10,000.

If you have $5,000 to pay down debt, God is honored when you pay down your debt with $5,000 instead of giving it way, expecting him to go out and return the original and then some.  Both wisdom and faith are charactarisitcs of those who are made in the image of God.

3.  You May Be Testing God

We live our lives in submission to the will and desire of God.

Too frequently, we may be giving in order to test God.  Jesus told us not to test the Lord our God.  Malachi 3:10 does encourage a particular group of Israelites in a unique time in history to test him, but we’d need to recognize the uniqueness of that situation.  I don’t consider Malachi 3:10 to be a call for all Christians in all circumstances to test God.  If that were the case, Jesus certainly failed the test when he refused to test God.

If you are really struggling financially, you ought to walk by faith in your situation.  You should not, however, manipulate the situation in a way that you put God to the test.

4.  We Ought Not to Be a Burden on the Church Whenever Possible

When we give, I think we need to be aware of our potential to become a burden on the church.  We are called to be a blessing to the church, not a burden.

Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. 1 Thessalonians 2:9

Paul worked hard in order that he would not burden the church.  We ought not to manipulate our financial situation with the intention of becoming a burden on the church.  The body of Christ functions as it should when we minister to those in you need.  However, if you neglect your personal responsibility to your home and then expect the church to bail you out, this will be a burden to the church.

While we’d all prefer to grow in the grace of giving, there are thousands of situations whereby I think a God-honoring decision is to give less.

Are there other reasons whereby one might be called to give less?


  1. says

    I had a situation once where I was doing online missionary work and a prostitute accepted Christ. She started to go to church, and she didn’t tell anyone (except for me) how she made her money because she was too ashamed. One of the first things the church told her to do was to give 10%, but she wasn’t sure if she should do so because of the way that she made her money. She wanted to know what I thought. Well the same day I read a Bible verse in the OT that said that prostitutes shouldn’t share her wages as a tythe (or something like that). She ended up getting a real job, but I have since lost contact with her. How would you have counseled this woman about giving?

  2. JD says

    Craig, I have never heard this message preached. Ever. I believe you are correct and having struggled with this issue many years ago I can attest it did not turn out well for our family. We were judged harshly by other Christians and counseled on how we had virtually no faith. Sad and true.

  3. says


    So many times, we are thinking about how we can give more – but I agree with you that there are times we should give less! There are several instances I can think of where people would have been better off receiving less assistance. I think we need to prayerfully consider these matters and make sure we’re honoring God when we’re giving HIS money away (it’s all his).

  4. says

    The suggestion I’ve offered to those who can’t (for legitimate reasons) give money is to give of their time. I can’t imagine God being less pleased with the person giving 8 hours of his time on the weekend to, say, a food bank or homeless shelter, than with the 10% cash.

  5. says

    This is a very different perspective than what is usually brought up. I wholeheartedly agree with these points. It is important for us to pray and really seek guidance in our financial decisions. We have to see what God has entrusted us with and see the best way to use it. Using our time and talents in this way is important also. I know there have been times where I found myself giving all my time to others and then my family has suffered.

  6. Sun says

    Thanks for your perspective on family and God. I often hear Dave Ramsey talk about taking care of our family as the first ministry, then tithing after that. It does make me reconsider that if God blesses us with a job and income, we use that gift to take care of our family first without burden then tithe what we can without feeling a burden.

    > if they owe $10,000 on a debt they can give away $5,000

    If you owe $10k in credit card debt, you don’t know how your interest is being used by the bank. You could be indirectly funding non-Christian activities. By paying off your debts quickly, I feel you can target your money toward the goals you want.

    • says

      Thanks for the comment. I do think that when we don’t have debt we have more control over how our money is used to profit other organizations. Thanks for pointing that out.
      It is possible to become too inward focused, but a healthy home provides a great foundation for a healthy ministry outside your home.

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