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My wife and I do not agree on giving. In fact, we've had a few heated arguments over the matter. She says we need to give 10% of our income. I don't know where we could come up with that much. We give every month, but it varies in amount, depending on what we have available after I've paid our bills. What should we do to come to an agreement?
I hear your pain. It was not too many years ago that I was in your same place! Spoiler alert -- I think your wife is right, but let me give you some background before I offer my advice.
I used to really dislike it when preachers taught on giving, especially if I brought guests to church with me! It wasn't that I didn't believe in giving. I did! It's just that I did not think I had enough money nor did I like parting with it until Ann and I learned, through a Crown Bible Study, that it wasn't my money in the first place. It was God's!
When I recognized and began to appreciate His love and provision, I wanted to give out of a heart of gratitude. It was like God gave me a totally different mindset. For the first time in my life I saw giving as an opportunity, not an obligation. And the benefits I experienced convinced me that giving first to the Lord is indeed a divine priority.
To be transparent, our giving went from 2.6% of our gross annual income to 10% of our gross annual income and even more as we are able. This required a lot of adjustments to our spending habits, but it has been a wonderful decision on spiritual and financial levels.
God intended giving to bless both the giver and the receiver. The word "tithe" repels some because they do not understand its true meaning. The tithe is a testimony to God's ownership. Abraham acknowledged this when he gave a tenth of his spoils back to God before the law was ever given (Genesis 14:20). Why? Because he loved God. Convicted that the tithe belonged to God in the first place, he gave. He was a true steward, able to surrender everything, including his precious son, Isaac.
The amount of the tithe is not important to God; He owns everything. The amount is important to us! Many verses in Scripture point to the promise of blessings and warnings about giving. Ultimately, we are the ones who miss out when we fail to give out of love and obedience to the One who so generously gives to us.
God does not need our money. But receiving our gifts in return is His way of allowing us to share in His work. God honors the attitude more than the amount as evidenced in Luke 21:1-4:
Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box,and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins.And he said, "Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them.For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."
Americans are generous people. We enjoy giving to ourselves and don't mind going into debt to do it. We need to reverse that mentality and joyfully give to God first, for that's where true joy is experienced. Paul said: Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)
- Acknowledge that God owns everything and we are His stewards.
- Praise and thank Him daily.
- Give to God first, not what is leftover. (Proverbs 3:9)
- Save. It makes us better givers because it creates margin.
- Set aside a portion to give every week to remember whose it is. Make it the highest priority or that money will be spent elsewhere.
- Give bountifully and cheerfully. (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)
- The local church to support those who teach and provide resources for ministry use.
- Organizations that are committed to helping the poor and spreading the gospel.
- Organizations that operate with integrity. ECFA accredited organizations are trustworthy.
- Lower blood pressure
- Increased self-esteem and peace
- More love
- Less depression, more joy
- Increased feelings of happiness and reduced anxiety
- Lower stress levels
- Longer life
- Self-control, a fruit of the Spirit, is exercised
- Conforms us into the image of Christ
- God promises to reward us
- Laying up treasures in Heaven
Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed. (Proverbs 19:17)
Giving for the right reasons makes us more grateful, generous, and loving people. Throughout Scripture we are reminded to give because much has been given to us. Give sacrificially and without earthly expectation. Keep your eyes on God and look to Him for your reward.
So here is my advice: Stop arguing and fighting about the amount. Make peace with your wife and agree to work together to begin to give a full 10% of your household income as soon as you are able. Thank God for all He has given you, especially for your generous and wise wife.