Generous Like Jesus

Tithing to your church is a disciplined form of giving. Try this ancient exercise in faith and watch what the Lord does in your financial life.

As you grow and mature as a Christian, ask the Lord to shape your character to be more like Jesus. You won’t perform miracles but you may earn a reputation as a generous and selfless person. And who was more giving and selfless than the Lord?

Start by tithing—donating 10 percent of your income to your church. Offering this percentage to God was a divine law for Jews in the Old Testament. Though Christians no longer live according to the old laws, it’s widely agreed that 10 percent remains a good model for believers to follow.

“You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. ‘For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.’ And God will generously provide all you need.” 2 Corinthians 9: 7–8 NLT.

Make it your goal to become a cheerful giver. Over time, you may find that giving a tithe to your church isn’t enough. God may stir your heart to give toward orphans living in desperate poverty or to assist recovery following natural disasters. Or one night you may feel the Lord prodding you to make dinner for a neighbor in need. Ask the Lord for direction. Inspiration is a prayer away.

If you have never tithed, it’s not complicated. But there are some practical considerations. Here are a few guidelines for tithing or offerings.

The guidelines

Tithe on your gross income or net income. This is your own decision. Some feel the donation should be on gross income (before taxes and other deductions); others limit the amount to after-tax net income. The compromise position is to pay on the net, but pay a tithe on any tax refund you receive.

 Income is income. If you have a side job, add it to the amount you tithe on. Some parents teach giving by having their children tithe on allowances.

 Surprise checks are also income. Suppose a distant relative leaves you a check for a few thousand dollars from her estate. Yes, that is part of your income. Tithe on it.

After your tithing becomes consistent, you may discover a surprising thing happens. The 90 percent income you live on seems to stretch further than 100 percent did. If you are like most who experience this, you may be tempted to give more. That’s a good temptation.

As Billy Graham once wrote, “You cannot out-give God. I challenge you to try it and see.”

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