How Much to Give?

There is no one single answer to a question of how much a Christian should give. Practices and traditions of the various Christian denominations come very much to the fore in any discussion.

Over time in the Jewish religion of the Old Testament, a system of offerings evolved with a tithe 10 percent of any produce to be given back to God.

For a Christian the answer is not so clear as to how much to give. Jesus said that it is not the amount of our gift that matters, but how much we give in relation to what we have. "A widow came, and put two copper coins, which make a penny. And Jesus called his disciples to him, and said to them, 'Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For they all contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, her whole living." (Mark 12:41-44)

For some Christian traditions, giving is an obligation: tithing is not. "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:7) If tithing is considered by someone to be a compulsion, then tithing is not appropriate for him or her. If tithing is considered to be of return of some of God's abundance gifts, then it is very appropriate. Giving should never be out of fear of some consequence or in the hope of some reward.

Because we are not the same society today as in the times of Moses or Jesus, some churches have modified the traditional tithe of 10 percent to 5 percent. This takes into consideration the role of governments in our social system.

So the answer in the end of how much to give is left to each person to answer, which is a much more difficult decision to make then any mathematical answer. And of course the decision has to be made bearing in mind the needs and traditions of his or her church community.

Decide in you heart what to give, and give it cheerfully. And whatever decision you make is between you and God. Particularly if you tithe, do not put on "holier than thou" airs as it defeats the moral purpose of the tithe.

If it is helpful, the table below gives percentage rates and income. It you are inclined to tithing, the Old Testament tithe is 10% and the modern tithe is 5%.

Monthly Givings at Different Percentage Rates

Annual IncomeMonthly Income1%2%3%4%5%6%7%8%9%10%15%20%

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