Brian Kluth gives practical advice for people who have questions, doubts, or fears about giving to the Lord’s work.
If you are NOT a Christian: Don’t worry about giving to God. Instead, realize and accept what God wants to give to you -- complete forgiveness, a brand new start, the power to be good and to do good for others, help for your problems, the ability to forgive, and a home in heaven. If you recognize your need for these things, pray and invite Jesus Christ to bring these things into your life.
For all Christians: Always make it a priority to faithfully support the work of your local church first. Then give special gifts and offerings to other Christian causes, projects, missions or the needy as God leads you.
If you’re fearful about giving 10% or more of your income to the Lord, try a 90-day test: In Malachi 3:10 God invites people to “test Him” in the matter of tithing (giving the first 10% of your income to God’s work). Therefore, I encourage people to try a 90-day test. Begin giving 10% of your income to the Lord’s work and watch and see if God does not begin working in your life in ways you haven’t previously experienced. If you regret that decision OR if you feel you never experienced God’s divine help in your finances during this time period, then discontinue the test. However, if you experience God’s help, joyfully continue giving 10% or more to the Lord’s work.
If you want to begin to actively give to God FIRST: Here are four different ideas to choose from: (1) Whenever you get any money, set aside 10% or more to give as the Lord directs. (2) Whenever you put a deposit in your checkbook, write out the first check(s) to God’s work for 10% or more. (3) If you track your finances through a bookkeeping system or computer program, set up a category for church giving and another one for other Christian causes. Then begin to faithfully set aside 10% or more of your income into these accounts. (4) If you like to handle your finances electronically, consider using www.networkforgood.org or the electronic giving option from your church (if available) to faithfully give 10% or more to the Lord.
If you are married to a Christian, but the two of you do not agree on how much you should give to the Lord’s work. Talk and pray together about a mutually agreeable “testing period” concerning your giving 10% or more.
If you are married and your spouse is not a Christian: Identify any money you have freedom to spend (read Luke 8:3) and set aside 10% or more of this money to give to the Lord’s work and/or show this material to your spouse and see if you can try the 90-day testing period.
If you are deciding whether to give off the gross or the net of your income: Pray and ask God what He wants you to do. If He prompts you in your heart to give off the gross amount, go ahead and do this, trusting Him with the results. If you don’t have a peace about this, begin giving 10% off the net amount for a few months and see what happens. After a few months, if you experience God’s creative care in your life, then begin to give 10% or more off of your gross income.
If you’re wondering about how much to give to your church and how much to give to other places: A good practice I have used is to give 10% of my main source of income to my local church (i.e. my main income goes to support the work of my main source of Christian fellowship and teaching). Then, I use 10% or more of all other incomes sources and unexpected blessings to help fund other Christian needs and opportunities that God brings into my life.
If you have children at home: Help your children set up a place where they can set aside “God’s portion” of any money they receive (i.e., allowances, work projects, gifts of money, etc.). Have them give at church, to missions, and/or to help people in need.
If you have “fallen behind” in your giving to God’s work: If you knowingly or accidentally have fallen behind in your giving to God’s work, you will never regret the decision to “get right” in this area. Review your financial records from the past several months and pray about “making up” the amount you have fallen behind. One elderly lady in her 90’s I heard about sent a tithe check to the church office with the note, “I want to be prayed up, paid up, and ready to go!”