Biblical giving?


I used to be a full time tither, but stopped a few years ago. I felt like most of my tithes were going to make us more comfortable; heat and air, soft pews, good sound system, coffee, tea, beautiful grounds, etc. Last night our pasture said that our biggest area of growth was in the area of what he called 4 Star Members, those who attended, served, gave, and belonged to a small group. That puts me in the category of a 2 star Member because I don’t give or attend a small group. (well I do but none of them go to the same church I do). He also said that for every person that came to church, one was “carrying” three. That means that I am also being “carried.”

My wife says we need to start giving.

I would love honest opinions on what biblical giving looks like. Should I tithe? Can I know what my money is being spent on? Can I ask that my money go to certain people? Should I just give and trust that my leaders will do what they are supposed to do?

I am so confused right now.



The Southern Baptist Convention is encouraging a fund-drive this month, perhaps coincidentally. So we’ve had discussions like this in small-group classes recently. (This is aside from the upcoming bi-yearly mission board thrust.)

The short and not terribly useful answer is that “biblical giving” looks like a number of different things, because different scriptures talk about tithing in different ways and to different degrees. Sometimes these look like overarching requirements or principles, sometimes they might be particular requests or applications or considerations of example. The upshot is that there are a bunch of variant answers. And confusion.

I know this will sound like a cop-out, but I guess the general answer is: do what you can. Lewis’ dictum is good–if you aren’t giving so much that you have to do without some things that you yourself wanted, then you aren’t giving enough yet. Giving should be self-sacrificial. Or as the old saying goes, give till it hurts.

Ten percent is a good start. If that hurts too much, take it down to where it only hurts a little. If you can handle ten percent no problem, go up till it starts to hurt. That answers the perennial question about ‘gross’ and ‘net’, too. In today’s society, our gross is raided automatically before we have any control over it ourselves, so the distinction between ‘gross’ and ‘net’ isn’t very practical anyway. Giving ten percent net easily? Start giving ten percent of gross. Or 15% net, whichever is easier for you to figure. Upscale from there.

On the balance, the scriptures seem (to me anyway) to indicate that we ought to be giving more to those less well-off than ourselves than to our local congregation. If our local congregation is already giving more to the poor than keeping for its own upkeep, then take that into consideration–one of the whole points to an ‘ecclesias’ at all is to effectively distribute charity to those who need it. Just make sure however much you give, you’re giving more to those poorer than you than you’re giving to keep up the local congregation. But don’t ignore the local congregation either. If you do a 60/40 or a 2:1 split, or anything like that you can easily keep track of, with the larger percent being money you’re giving directly to individuals or charitable organizations yourself (I prefer individuals, but orgs that specifically write the majority of their income to charity are okay and need help too), then you’ll be safe in giving more to the poor than ‘enriching’ the church, without ignoring the church.

I like to think in terms of “aspiration”, too. I used to give 10%, and aspired to give more; now I’m thankful to be able to give 25%, and aspire to give more. I used to be able to give 33%, but I’ve had to cut back a bit to 25%–I was glad to be able to give the 33% and I aspire to get back to that someday. And beyond that, too, if I can.

One thing that the notion of “aspiration” has helped me personally with, is that I thus look for ways to give bits more here and there off the books, beyond my disciplinary reckoning. So in fact I know I’m giving more than 25% right now, I just don’t know how much. And that’s okay: I would really rather my left hand not know what my right hand is doing in giving anyway. :smiley: (In fact, I would really rather people not know my tithing percentages either. But sometimes I have to talk about them for purposes of example. So treat those figures as being handy fictional illustrations. :mrgreen: ) When I grow back to giving 33% as a formal discipline someday, I’ll still be in the habit of giving more than that beyond the formal discipline.

Personally I prefer not to try to take tax-breaks on charity, but that’s just something I’ve managed to aspire to. :slight_smile: I don’t have anything against people who do that. Similarly, I tithe off my tax return (if any), but I don’t have anything against people who don’t. Again, the principle is: give until there are some things you want you can’t buy for yourself now.


I like what Jason has to say. I want to add, that I don’t see any kind of Biblical mandate for Christians to give 10% (tithe). The standard seems to be ‘as you are led’.

I do think if you’re part of a church organization, you should share in the cost of supporting it. The church should be accountable to it’s members for how the money is spent.



if i saw or believed that my tithe was going into things like a new coffee bar or softer chairs, i might be a little confused, too. my husband says that it’s still our right and responsibility to give to our local church, even if we have some qualms about how the money is being spent- that’s between the Pastor, and God.

if you feel so moved, you might also send a seperate offering or a tithe to a Christian organization which helps the poor, persecuted, and / or unreached. or ask the Pastor if your church currently partners with such a group, and contribute some of what you offer to that group.


Our Wednesday night adult class takes up an offering that is strictly benevolent in nature. Would it be wrong to give all my money on Wednesday nights?


Not necessarily. It depends on how responsible and mature you think your church is being in its own expenditures. I don’t know that a church should be financially supported when it spends irresponsibly.

You seem convicted, or at least worried, that if you gave to your church, it would mainly be frittered away. If that remains your conviction, on sober consideration of the situation, then I would say give to your benevolence fund on Wed night.


Remember, the lazy servant had his mina taken from him and given to where it would do more good. :slight_smile: As servants, we aren’t automatically entitled to stewardship power. If your congregation isn’t convincing you that it’s spending your money wisely, then give your gifts (including your money) back to God in other ways.


Use your own conscience, but basically the traditional dictum that it is required that we always give a tenth of our income is not necessarily based on anything solid. The tithe isn’t mentioned anywhere in the New Testament. (The giving mentioned was to help the Jerusalem church through a rough patch.) And in the Old Testament it was a national tax to help the poor and needy (and the income of the now obsolete priestly order). And Abraham tithed, but only once in his life. Of course, today institutional churches require the financial support of their members. But the first century church met in homes, not in specifically designated buildings, and most of the spiritual leaders had their own income (even Paul made tents while he established churches). There is provision for supporting those who lead, though (don’t muzzle the ox while it is treading grain). But the current system is, from my point of view, untenable and should be put to rest. Based on my understanding, my conscience doesn’t allow me to give except occasionally. Basically, I just say don’t let anyone coerce you. Follow your conscience and what you truly believe that God is telling you.