Do What Makes Your Heavenly Father Smile

As Christians, Steve and his wife have $200,000 they'd like to do something with. What's the best way to give or tithe on that money?

QUESTION: Steve in Cedar Falls was involved in a childhood accident and received a substantial settlement. He is married now with two kids and a paid-for house. As Christians, they have about $200,000 they’d like to do something with. What’s the best way to give or tithe on that money?

ANSWER: I think there’s a lot of really bad beliefs and really toxic beliefs under the heading of Christianity that are not biblical regarding money. By that, I mean there are people who are so foolish who believe that somehow being a Christian means you’re supposed to be poor. That is not what the Bible says—not even close. That is what people in certain political arenas say, but it has nothing to do with what the Bible says. The Bible says we are supposed to own, as Christians, nothing. We instead are called to manage all of the things that come into our possession for God as if He owns them, because He does.

Quit asking the question of how much should I give of my money? Instead, it’s how much of God’s money would He have me to give? He gives us some guidelines on that. He gives us some insight on that.

The first thing you’re called to do as a Christian with the money that God gives you to manage that’s His is to take care of your own family, or you’re worse than an unbeliever. The Bible is real clear about that. You’re called to work and to earn money. He that won’t work, don’t let him eat. You’re called to save. In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil. You’re called to plan. Jesus said, “Don’t build a tower without first counting the cost, lest you get halfway up and you’re unable to finish. All who see you begin to mock you and say, ‘This man began to build and was unable to finish.’” The mind of man plans his ways, and the Lord directs his steps. There’s planning all through Scripture. You’re called to stay out of debt because the borrower is slave to the lender, and Jesus says it’s tough to serve two masters. You’ll love one and hate the other. He’s got a pretty good handbook that He gives you that’s pretty clear on how you’re supposed to handle His money.

Then, of course, it talks a lot all through Scripture about tithing, which is a tenth of your income. Evangelical Christians have taught and believed on the basis of Scripture for several hundred years that tithing is a tenth of your income to your local church. In addition to that, you give offerings, which means you do other things with His money.

There is no presupposition that if you have $100 million that somehow you are a bad Christian. Instead, you’re just managing more of God’s stuff than someone who didn’t manage it well, which by the way is in the Bible. Those who manage well will be given more to manage. That’s in there.

You don’t want to be the guy who built bigger barns because that was the guy who worshipped his money rather than worshipping God. He got his security from money rather than from God. God said, “You’re a fool. I’m taking you to Heaven today, and now you’ve got nothing. How’s that?”

People take these biblical concepts and somehow twist them around into their life view that somehow you’re supposed to be poor to be a Christian. I would submit to you that you’re supposed to be completely in poverty—that you don’t own anything. This idea that you’re not supposed to have a nice house or you’re not supposed to have a nice car and you’re not supposed to take your family on a trip and you’re supposed to live in a cave, collect lint, and give it all to African missionaries is a bunch of crap. It’s biblical idiots that are out there running around pitching this stuff. Do you spend it all on you and consume it all? I don’t think that’s the spirit of Christ either. You’ve got to have some common sense about this.

A good rule of thumb—a good thing that’ll help you and all of us—is to always start with this idea that I don’t own it. Now, God, what do you want me to do? The first thing is to take care of my own family, and then He gives me some ways to do that, some ways to handle money. The second thing is I’m supposed to tithe and give to my local church. Above that, I need to be willing and able spiritually to give it all away since I don’t own it. He doesn’t call you to give so much away—usually—that you have nothing or you’re supposed to live on a certain amount that some other idiot decided and they get to decide what the amount is and anybody who spends more than that is not holy. That’s none of your business.

I recommend that you do some investing, some giving, and you do some living. You keep that in balance, and you keep those ratios going, and you just enjoy your life. I don’t want you to consume all the money and spend it all on stupid stuff. I don’t want you to only save. I don’t want you to only give. There’s a balance between the giving, saving, and spending that’s healthy and mature and spiritual and makes your Heavenly Father smile. When in doubt, think about it this way: If your children were grown and they had $200,000 in investments, what would they do with it that would make you smile? That’s the way your Heavenly Father looks at it.