When your income expands, do you increase giving? As Christians, we are taught to give 10% of our income to the church. So the simple answer would be yes. But is that really what Jesus intended?
At 26, Gregory Baumer, Co-Author of God and Money: How We Discovered True Riches At Harvard Business School, was making $275,000. Admittedly not much of a saver but he was a lifelong giver. Tithing 10% of $275K did not affect his lifestyle in the least. He easily wrote the check as the price of admission to his church.
He and his wife vacationed lavishly and dined well while making a distinct difference in the economy of his local church and God’s Kingdom.
Heading to Harvard Business School for Greg was a calculated move to build a network of colleagues to rapidly advance his financial career.
Never really giving the 10% tithe much thought, Greg and his co-author John took a course on God and Money at the Harvard Divinity School that blew new life into their faithful giving habits.
Charitable Giving in the USA by Income
The average tithing to churches in the U.S. hovers around 2.5% of annual income. It varies by income with the poorest and the richest giving the most.
Those with the least give the most; while those that have, do not begin to give more until the cash is really flowing. If Christians in the U.S. did increase giving to 10%, churches could fund the following efforts:
.– $25 billion could relieve global hunger, starvation and deaths from preventable diseases in five years.
– $12 billion could eliminate illiteracy in five years.
– $15 billion could solve the world’s water and sanitation issues, specifically at places in the world where 1 billion people live on less than $1 per day.
– $1 billion could fully fund all overseas mission work.
– $100 – $110 billion would still be left over for additional ministry –according to Relevant Magazine
After conducting a survey of 200 plus business people, John and Greg began to re-frame the question of giving.
Are we asking the Wrong Question About Giving
In A Crazy Thing Happened on the Way to the Offering PlateI shared reasons why tithing is not a business deal with God. In How Much Do I Need to Give to Keep God Happy I shared why giving after the cross no longer falls under the Mosaic law of giving 10% (Especially since the Israelite’s historically gave 23%).
The article, Who Should Give, When to Give, How to Give As A Christian follows the heart of giving in the New Testament. The Why of giving. Yet the question still remains. How much should a Christian give?
The writers of God and Money: How we Discovered True Riches At Harvard Business School believe we have the question reversed. The authors question posed by the New Testament after the Resurrection of Christ is not how much should I give but:
How Much Should I Keep?
Reverse Tithing is the concept of living on 10% and giving away 90%. An overwhelming idea for most of us. Meet the April and Graham, Kingdom Wealth Builders
Often we focus on building wealth. Building wealth requires sacrifice; often leaving the builder bound to a plush lifestyle absorbed in maintaining status and purchasing power.
Intentionally or unintentionally, we figure an income number in our heads that will certainly be enough to live on for our family–arriving at that number with all the trappings of a “golden cage” a big house, cars, RVs, and trips.
Does the figure you need to live well just keep increasing?
Are you now trapped or satisfied?
Is Stewardship Just Writing a Check?
“Stewardship is the active and responsible management of God’s creation for God’s purposes.” God and Money, Chapter 5.
Stewardship is more than dropping the check in the offering plate. It requires further action on the part of our community of faith and our family in the decisions, distribution, and management of the resources God has placed in our hands.
As we spend on our daily needs and wants are we asking ourselves; How will this serve God’s purposes in my life and those around me?
A finish line to our savings goals is recommended by the authors of God and Money, as a way to put an end to amassing wealth just because we can. A collector of cars was once asked, “How many cars are enough?”
“Oh I think just a few more will do,” he said. The same with saving money. A finish line for saving allows us to say that is enough; no more building barns to keep my collections in; surely, God has a better purpose for this excess.
Tithing is centered on money. Giving is not. Following Jesus means service. The God of the Universe served his disciples, taught the masses, healed the sick and raised the dead. Finding places for service in our churches, communities, and homes is imperative to living the Christ-centered life.
We are not called to give from our abundance. We are called to give and give generously, daily and systematically. Whether it be sacrificial giving of a reverse tithe or a careful review of our spending, serving and saving to see, if it is serving man or God. Paul instructs us to increase our giving each accord to his own resources. This brings us full circle to the real question. How much do I need to keep?
Do You Increase Giving When You Start Making More Money?
“Increase of income,” according to April, in the video above, “does not change your way of living, but does change your way of giving.”
In God’s economy, we are offered the chance to give as He does–fully, joyfully and expectantly. Expecting that He increases and expand our gifts for the love and deliverance of His Kingdom here on earth.
What John and Greg, both longtime tithers found in their study of God and money that they were both missing the point. John idolized saving for the future to provide security in his life, while Greg prized material things that brought immediate comfort. The study changed both men’s views on God’s desire for their lives and careers.
It is the difference between reversing the question from how much should I give to how much should I keep.
And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Colossians 3:17
What difference would reversing the question make in your life?
Is God part of your spending, saving and giving choices daily?
Does giving 30%,50%,90% of your income even seem possible?