A Proper Attitude Toward Giving

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With this post my aim is to shed light on how & why you should give what you give.

It is every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.  – Albert Einstein

You give before you get.  There would be no advantage to be gained by sowing a field of wheat if the harvest did not return more than was sown.  – Napoleon Hill

For of those to whom much is given, much is required.  – John F. Kennedy

If you are at all concerned about your community, your finances, your church, your country, your favorite charities, or your example to your children, proper giving should be a concept with which you are thoroughly familiar.

Today I would like to address the role our attitude plays in our giving, and how it can truly make or break what we give!

A Problematic View Toward Giving

  1. Giving your “last fruits” – Meaning giving is one of your last financial priorities.  This is a very common pitfall and one that I fell victim to for years!  The premise here, whether purposeful or involuntary, is that giving will commence once all other financial matters are in order.  I contend that giving should be your first financial priority, before debt repayment, savings, or anything else.
  2. Giving “amounts that don’t matter” – There exists a common misconception that amounts given are in direct correlation with the meaningfulness of the gift.  If you hold this view you are severely short-changing yourself.  No pun intended.  I would like to bring to remembrance the fact that the percentage you give is far more important than the amount you give!
  3. Giving is “obligatory or even burdensome” – Whether you are currently giving or aspiring to give you need to give with joy.  Gloomy givers are ungrateful givers and are missing out on the joy that giving is meant to bring!  To those gloomy givers I say this:  if someone gave you a gift, but was noticeably unhappy about giving it, how would you feel?  Many others still, may be indifferent about their giving.  While they may not view their giving as a burden, they still have an unfortunate and inappropriate view toward the fundamental purpose of giving.

A Proper View Toward Giving

Firstly let us look to scripture for wisdom & encouragement from God in an effort to overcome the aforementioned problematic views.

  1. Give your “first fruits” – Though giving of “first fruits” was an Old Testament commandment to Jews, as Christians we need to be mindful that all things belong to God.  What better way for us to thank Him than to offer the first of what He blesses us with back to Him.  He promises to bless us in such a bountiful way that we will not be able to receive it!  Giving first may not make “sense” to some people, but I believe it is an issue of faith, meaning there is no good explanation other than just having faith in what God promised.
  2. “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.  And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.”  Malachi 3:10-11

  3. Giving “any amount always matters” – It is not the amount you give that holds meaning, but the percentage you give and the spirit with which you give it.
  4. “And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.  And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.  And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:  For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”  Mark 12:41-44

  5. Give “cheerfully” – Giving without joy is detrimental to he who gives.
  6. “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”  2 Corinthians 9:7

Final Thoughts

Giving is not a burden, quite contrarily it is a glorious blessing!  To be able to give to someone else, especially if you are filling a need, is a joyful gift that no amount of money can reproduce.

  • Make giving your first financial priority, above debt repayment, saving, and investing.
  • Give sacrificially
  • Give with joy

Consider the old quote, “The gift of giving”.  The word gift is not referring to the recipient, but to he who has given!

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1 Russell Earl Kelly, PHD

The “light” you are sending on tithing is Old Covenant, pre-Calvary and was never given to the Church in the New Covenantd.

You quoted Einstein: “It is every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.” Was he a tithing Christian? If not, then you have quoted him out of context, or does that matter?
You quoted John F Kennedy who was quoting the Bible: For of those to whom much is given, much is required.” I seriously doubt that he tithed. Therefore your are manipulating the quotes. Your “attitude” seems to be to manipulate.

1. Tithes were never firstfruits nor the best per Lev 27:30-34; Deu 26:1-4 and Neh 10:35-37. Tithes were “tenth-fruits.” “Firstfruits” were always only very small token offerings.

Giving to the Church should NOT come first. Read 1st Timothy 5:8. Buying medicine, food and essential shelter comes first unless you want Christians to be worst than the pagans.

2. New Covenant post Calvary giving for the Church was primarily sacrificial. That means more than 10% for many but less for others. This is true but tithing is not New Covenant.

You said “I would like to bring to remembrance the fact that the percentage you give is far more important than the amount you give!”

Reply: No texts. This is not biblical. Wealthy persons can give 10% and not give sacrificially. Poor persons who give 10% are giving sacrificially and that is not fair. It contradicts 1st Timothy 5:8.

True biblical tithes were always only food from inside Israel. Although money was common in Genesis and essential for sanctuary worship, money was never included in 16 texts which describe the contents of the tithe. Jesus, Peter and Paul did not qualify as tithe-payers and neither did the poor or those who lived outside of Israel. There was no such thing as a minimum standard except for food producers inside Israel. Period.

3. Tithing was required from food producers inside Israel whether they were GLOOMY or not. Your remarks are simply not biblical concerning tithing.

4. Your long comments on “firstfruits” have no scriptural validation and you give none because you cannot do so. That is dishonest.

5. Your use of Malachi is out of context. The whole law was a test only for Old Covenant Israel. Obey ALL to be blessed; break ONE to be cursed. Galatians 3:10-13 clearly replaced Malachi 3:10-12 for Hebrews. Our Bible never says that Gentiles and the Church were ever under the Old Covenant law. Jesus could not have told his Gentile disciples to tithe because it was illegal. The early Jewish-Christian church in Jerusalem were still tithing to the Temple system in Acts 21:20.

6. Your use of the widow in Mark 12:41-44 is wrong. This is not a discussion of tithing. It is an example of sacrificial freewill giving.

7. You mix the freewill giving texts of 2 Cor 8 and 9 and 1 Cor 16 with your concept of Old Covenant tithing. They are not the same. Again, tithing was required from food producers inside Israel whether or not they gave cheerfully.

8. Your final thoughts again mix freewill giving principles with Old Covenant tithing when they are not the same. “Make giving your first financial priority” is wrong and contradicts 1st Timothy 5:8. Do you expect Christians to give before they buy their medicine, food and essential shelter?

The same law (statute) of Numbers 18 which teaches Levitical tithing also teaches many things ignored by the Church with no justification. (1) The first whole Levitical tithe went to the servants of the priests who correspond to our ushers, deacons, choir, musicians, treasurers, janitors, builders and politicians. (2) The tithe recipients were not allowed to own or inherit property. (3) The priests were to KILL anybody trying to worship God directly. Both the Temple and the priesthood have been replaced by the priesthood of every believer.

I am passionately dedicated to helping others break the bondage of teaching New Covenant stewardship using Old Covenant principles. The Church must break free from this last vestige of the law in order to prosper and go forward with gospel blessings.

2 Merovingien

I like these comments. It looks like a review of a research paper. Point to point! Always tough to give proper responses to those!

3 Matt Jabs

Hey Russell:

Thanks for your comment, it actually took longer for you to get here than I thought it would!

Grace to you.

4 Russell Earl Kelly, PHD

It pains me to see God’s Word distorted and to see the Church being shackled by the law when grace giving is so much blessed by the Holy Spirit. Everybody wants to cram tithing down our throats (19 of 20 blogs) but nobody wants to defend it biblically. Where are all the Masters, Doctorate adn PHD thesis defending tithig? Where are the books which go into detail explaining each text such as mine and Dr David Croteau’s at Liberty? Those who set out to disporve our points usually switch to agteement with us.

5 Matt Jabs

I understand Russell, and I appreciate your passion.

Let me humbly add that I never advised anyone to tithe in this article…let alone “cram tithing down anyone’s throat”; my advice was simply to give with joy and to give as much as possible. Is that in disagreement with what you believe & are saying? Per your comment it is not.

I suppose the only place I see any difference in my article versus your comment is my use of Malachi 3:10-11.

If you read the first point about giving “first fruits” you will see that I was not addressing “first fruits” as referenced in the scripture, but was simply using the term to say that giving should be our first financial priority with our money…ahead of saving, or anything else. The reason I suggest this is because it shows that we are putting Christ first with our finances. Is that errant thought? I think not.

In short, it appears we agree.

Here is a question for you. How do you know that John F. Kennedy didn’t tithe/give?

Also, I use secular quotes as a way for the unregenerate man to identify with the article…then I end with scripture. As Paul said in 1 Cor 9:22, “…I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”

6 Ben D.

Without attempting to argue theology or parse the meaning of “tithe”, I’d just like to say that Matt’s points are very practical. If we grant that, as Christians, we ought to give some of our money away, then we’re much more likely to follow through consistently on our noble sentiments if we commit to giving away a certain percentage of our income.

Human being nature being what it is, I think that many of us are likely to give away less than we could — and even less than we would like — if we do our giving only an “as-inspired” basis. We’ll just forget!

And there’s no need to fear a commitment to giving a percentage — as opposed to an amount — because if I lose my job or my pay gets docked, my commitment adjusts automatically.

I also appreciate Russell’s zeal, although its source is a bit unfamiliar to me. Are there lots of Christians out there who are denying themselves medicine, food, and basic shelter in order to “tithe”?

I honestly don’t know. As a Catholic, I’m simply encouraged to “support the material needs of the Church”. The precise manner in which I do this is left to me to work out in prayer before God. So I’ve never witnessed the faithful being browbeaten into giving a pre-tax “tithe” that they honestly can’t afford. Maybe this is a real problem for other Christians.

I do sometimes wonder, though, whether the more pressing problem for Christians in general is not giving enough — especially in a society like ours that encourages over-consumption. If so, then Matt’s post is generally on the mark, even if it lacks theological rigor. From looking briefly at another post here, I figure I would probably object to some of the details of his “tithing” philosophy, but the basic message — give a percentage — is right on, I think.

7 Ben D.

The other practical benefit of giving a percentage — which Matt mentions or at least alludes to in another post — is that it pretty much forces you to keep a budget.

8 Russell Earl Kelly, PHD


I appreciate your loving attitude towards me.

I am sure that we agree more than we disagree. There are too many Christians who feel secure after tithing when their gift was not sacrificial. And there are Christians who sacrifice to give even less than 10%. The latter go home with God’s blessings.

1 Tim 5:8 “But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” This expenditure comes first in my opinion. I have met too many Christians who tithe and then do without medicine. That is a crxime.

Since it is well-documented that liberals and Democrats give much less charity than conservatives, I seriously doubt that John F Kennedy gave 10% of his wealth to charity. If he did, it would have made the headlines. However John Kennedy would be a Republican today.

9 Russell Earl Kelly, PHD


Thanks for the comments and questions. Although a Protestant I have a thorough appreciation of Catholic history and quote Catholic sources in my book. Although many RC orders endorse tithing, the official RC position does not. Cyprian and Augustine both tried to introduce a type of tithing in the RC Church in the 3rd and 5th centuries but failed. Several regional churches tried again in the 560s and 580s but also failed. It did not become enforceable law until the late 8th century. Even then tithing was only food from church-owned property farmed by others.

Matt’s points are indeed very practical and seem to be sensible. However I think they are also often unbiblical and that is my burden. I am certainly not opposed to anybody vowing to support the Church with a predetermined percentage. I am against mandating that percentage as beginning at ten per cent because of biblical precedent. There never was a universal biblical precedent except for food producers inside of Israel.

Each of us should, to the best of our ability, set a budget and promise to support the gospel with a generous and sacrificial freewill gift. Our human nature must be over-ridden by our spiritual nature when it comes to spiritual stewardship. The answer must not be a return to Old Covenant law in order to teach stewardship; that law did not even send out missionaries! The early church flourished in the first centuries when it consisted mostly of soldiers, slaves, women and children who gave sacrificially.

The source of my zeal is God’s Word. I do not try to force my opinion on anybody. However I do urge everybody to make a thorough study of the way God’s Word uses the words “tithe, tithing, tithes, and tenth.” I began with an open mind and concluded with a changed mind from what I had previously taught as a pastor.

You asked “Are there lots of Christians out there who are denying themselves medicine, food, and basic shelter in order to “tithe”?

My answer sends you to inquire among the ghettos of the USA. They are full of very sincere and devote Christians who have been sacrificially tithing for generations. They also sacrifice and play the lottery a lot. The greatest percentage of tithers in the USA live in the poorest neighborhoods. Interview a few of them as I have and your question will be answered. Most are expecting their money tree to sprout at any moment and are afraid to stop tithing and stop playing the lottery.

You wrote: “The precise manner in which I do this is left to me to work out in prayer before God.”

This is my position. I give more than ten per cent but I dare not call it tithing because it is not tithing. The more I love God, my church and lost souls, the more I give with no regard to percentage. That is the New Covenant way.

Our society has failed because it is too worldly, too money conscious and not enough “lost soul” conscious. When our churches get back to the point where evangelism is more important than gymnasiums and cell phones, there will be revival.

Russell Earl Kelly

10 Matt Jabs

I cannot disagree with any of that Russ! Also, I appreciate your stance and your passion. It has made me go to the scriptures more, which is always the solution!

My goal in giving is to give joyfully and sacrificially!

I also agree with Ben that our society is wrongfully immersed in extreme consumerism. I was too, but have taken personal responsibility for my actions and have made the necessary changes.

I am now working to put all financial decisions through the filter of God’s word and act accordingly. Thus far the end result has been less debt, more giving, more joy, greater learning, greater activity, and a better relationship between my wife & I!

I think we can all agree that none of that is wrong! Thanks again gentlemen. Iron sharpeneth iron!

11 Ralph Jean-Paul

Wow absolutely great post! You are dead on when you say giving is a joyful event. I think that this should not only apply to our financial matters but to out time and ourselves.

Giving to non-believers is a great witness because the world really doesn’t understand selfless giving.

I take the understanding that everything belongs to our father, and whether it stays in our hands or goes to someone else, its all His.

I am more likely to share and give of myself and time when I realize that ultimately, he owns them both.

12 Craig

I appreciate your post.
I think at times the word ‘tithe’ carries different connotations. Perhaps this is merely a discussion of semantics. I use tithe to describe a free will gift offering that is a tenth of ones income. I also, along with many others use the tithe to describe any gift that one gives to a local church. Regardless of which is technically correct the greater issue, as you have shown, is how do most people use the word. Therefore, I use tithe and giving synonymously even though I know that is not technically correct. Since this post likely is not read by many people professionally trained in Biblical studies your usage is appropriate. It is always necessary for me to shift my vocabulary when writing a church bulletin and a formal dissertation. Keep up the good writing.

13 Matt Jabs

You’ve hit the nail on the head Craig.

The use of the word tithe in the New Testament church, in my studies, does appear to be errant; which is what Russell is so passionate about. However for most church laity the terms tithing & free-will offering are used synonymously a lot of the time (probably another point of agitation for Russell).

As you mentioned, semantic differences aside, it is advantageous for a Christian to give joyfully and sacrificially. I do not believe any Christian could argue those simple bible truths.

Thanks for your input.

14 Rick Cadden

Matt i have an article about e-giving on my blog i would love your input on. Churches struggle with whether to allow on line giving or not and what stand they need to take. It’s a fine line to walk! I follow you on twitter and love your blog site.

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