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How much should Christians give?

Last post discussed that the New Testament doesn’t command giving a tithe, but it does command giving! So how much should Christians give? Here are three New Testament principles to make that determination.

First, Christians give according to their income.

Two New Testament verses make the point that the amount Christians give relates to the amount of their income:

  • 1 Corinthians 16:2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income.
  • 2 Corinthians 8:12 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.

How much should Christians give?Neither verse states how much Christians give, but they do say that giving should be according to our income.

Luke 12:48 For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required.

Although this isn’t speaking directly of finances, the principle applies. If God gives you more, He expects you to give more. It’s completely reasonable that some people should give much more than a tithe (10%).

Second, Christians give sacrificially.

This is another reason it’s not a good idea for Christians to feel bound to a tithe. For some Christians that would require very little sacrifice.

This principle is important – not just because of what it teaches us about giving – but because of what it teaches us about our relationships with the Lord in general. God doesn’t need our money. His will is accomplished with or without our help. But God allows us to worship Him through giving, and the only way our giving is worshipful is if it involves some sacrifice.

David said, “I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing” (2 Sam 24:24).

One reason God wanted animal sacrifices without blemish is old, sick animals wouldn’t involve any sacrifice.

David knew a sacrifice that doesn’t involve any sacrifice isn’t really a sacrifice.

Erwin Lutzer said, “Those who give much without sacrifice are reckoned as having given little.”

Mark 12:41 Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. 42 Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. 43 [Jesus] called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; 44  for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.”

The rich people were said to “put in much,” but the widow put in a tiny amount; a quadrans is about 1/5 or 1/8 of a cent. It makes no sense for Jesus to say the widow “put in more than [all the rich people]” unless we understand He’s not talking about the amount she gave financially. He’s talking about the amount she gave sacrificially.

For those who “put in out of their abundance” no sacrifice is required. But in giving out of the widow’s poverty, there was a lot of sacrifice involved in her giving. The amount given financially isn’t nearly as important as the amount given sacrificially.

George Muller said, “God judges what we give by what we keep.”

Third, Christians give joyfully.

You’re probably saying, “You just said I’m supposed to give sacrificially and now you’re saying I’m supposed to give joyfully. Those two don’t go together!”

God wants our giving to be done joyfully because we should recognize what a privilege it is to give back to Him a little of what He’s given us. With this attitude, even sacrificial giving can be done joyfully.

2 Corinthians 9:7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 

This verse tells us how TO GIVE and how NOT TO GIVE:

  • Paul says not to give “grudgingly or of necessity” but this is what giving was like under the Mosaic Law. They had to give. They gave “of necessity” and possibly “grudgingly” at times.
  • Do give as you “purpose in your heart” or as you decide to give. I’m not sure how many things in Scripture God is said to love, but one of those things is “a cheerful giver.”[1]

Hopefully these three, simple principles, can help you determine how much to give:

  • Do you have any questions?
  • Do some verses come to mind that I didn’t mention in the post that help direct your giving?

Share below!

[1] As a note, this is why we don’t “pass the plate” at WCC. We think people should give voluntarily without being compelled.

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10 thoughts on “How much should Christians give?

  1. Yes, sacrificial giving can be extremely joyfilled! Knowing that you are giving what you’ve been given back to honor God even when it’s seems illogical to do, glorifies God and his mighty ways all the more. He provides our daily bread faithfully. Trusting that He will do that even when we only have two fish and five loaves brings about the opportunity to bring him glory.

    1. Hi Kristi,
      That’s interesting that you took the comment about giving sacrificially and made a point about it being joyful. Generally joy and sacrifice don’t go together :).

      I hadn’t thought of the way you put it, but you’re right – if we consider the way God provides for us – then yes, even giving can be done joyfully.

  2. We’ve always given 10% (well, slightly above, but not much). It has always been a sacrifice, but at the same time doable. It has helped remind us that our possessions have come from God and that it is He who has provided us with everything.

    1. Hi Sarah,
      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      If you don’t mind me asking, is this because you believe God commands giving 10% under the New Covenant, or because you know that’s what He gave under the Old Covenant so you use that as a guideline?

  3. Wow I love how Biblically based this all is. It’s so important to live a biblically based life even when it comes to finanaces.

    1. Hi Mihaela,
      Yes, God’s Word – while not providing details and/or instructions for every decision we face – does provide the principles needed to make the decisions we make. Our lives can be governed by God’s Word if we’re open to its teaching.

  4. Great points here! My family has always made sure that our giving is a sacrifice, not just something we do casually because we feel bound to do it.

    Also, I’m about halfway through your book and I’ve enjoyed it a lot thus far!

    1. Hi Kalinann,
      Glad to hear that. For some people giving ten percent wouldn’t be much of a sacrifice, whereas for some families – perhaps if a father lost his job – three percent would seem like a lot. The point is to make it sacrificial for your circumstances.

      Also, thanks for the update on the book! Can’t wait to hear your thoughts when you’re done and see your review!

  5. […] post in no way is meant to discourage giving (you can read a recent post from me about the importance of […]

  6. […] Now you should notice the post doesn’t say, “Should Christians give?” Even though Christians don’t have to give a tithe, they do have to give. So how do they know how much? That’s the topic of this post. […]

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