No one has to incorporate all six pillars of Tiny Living, but try incorporating some or all of them into your lifestyle. You’ll increase your well-being and your spending power while lowering your negative impact on the environment.Continue Reading...
I’ve written a good bit of material designed to free people from the idea that the tithe is something they must do under threat of a curse from God. The giving standards in the New Testament are very different (and actually much more challenging) than those in the Old Testament. The teachings and example of Christ guide us into a mindset of giving that’s based on love for God and others – not just promises of blessings or threats of a curse.
But I also understand why some people like to use the tithe as their standard of giving. It’s simple, straightforward, and gives you a guideline you can start using right away. (Assuming, of course, that you don’t try to set up a ton of rules to help you figure out how to tithe just right.) Freewill, sacrificial, generous giving motivated by love just isn’t quite as easy to figure out as a flat 10%.
I came across a concept that I think can be helpful as a starting point – a way to think and pray about giving that will help you figure out what God wants you to do in your situation while also protecting yourself from lifestyle inflation. It’s called graduated tithing. The name aside, I think it can be a good way to think about your giving. Coming up with your own plan gives you an opportunity to consciously seek God’s will for your giving. Let’s look at it in more depth.
The Graduated Tithe
I first came across the idea in an article that Craig wrote at Money Help for Christians. The concept of the graduated tithe seems to have originated with Ronald Sider in his book Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: Moving from Affluence to Generosity.
Ron explains it this way. First, you start with a base amount. His family decided on a base figure that includes the current poverty level for his family’s size, plus costs for Christian education and college expenses, plus taxes, plus genuine emergencies. His family tries to give 10% of that base amount. Then, for each $1,000 of income above that base amount, they give an additional 5%. An example will help you see what I’m talking about.
Let’s say you choose a base amount of $40,000. Here is what your graduated tithe (or giving system) would look like:
|Income||% to Give||$ to Give||Total Income||Total $ Given||Total % Given|
After you reach a total income of $57,000, you’ll be giving away 100% of any additional money you earn. If your income was $75,000, you’d be giving $31,350 under this system – a little over 40%. At $100,000, you’d be giving away $56,350 or just over 56%.
To use the graduated tithe (or giving system, I just like that better), you’d want to update your base amount every year. This will help account for changes in your personal situation, taxes, and most importantly – God’s will. He may lead you to give more in some years by choosing a lower base amount or to give less by choosing a higher base amount.
A Few Caveats About the Graduated Tithe
I share this idea with you not to enforce a legalistic standard but to offer an alternative that will help you focus on giving more and not becoming greedy as your income rises. If you decide to use the graduated tithe, you should be very careful if it makes you begrudge giving and takes away the joy of sharing. If you don’t have love and give cheerfully, it’s not going to matter how much you give. In that case, you’re going to have to seek God’s heart and ask Him to help you have His love develop in you.
Also, you should use this example as a guide – not a law. If your family is in a situation where this can’t work for you right now, then adapt it to fit God’s will for your giving. You’ll need to go through this planning process with a lot of prayer and request guidance from the Holy Spirit, but it can be something that helps you give generously in your situation.
I really want to emphasize the fact that you need to seek God’s will on this. You shouldn’t use the tithe, the graduate tithe, or any other giving system as a replacement for prayer and discernment. God will guide you as you seek to please Him. Make that your primary goal and He’ll help you figure out what the right amount is for you.
What do you think of the graduated tithe? Let me know in the comments below!
This article was included in the Carnival of Personal Finance as an editor’s pick!
While Christianity is filled with competing voices like anything else, there are many things that I see as common sense. One of these is caring for the environment. Maybe I am naive, but I think it only makes sense that God would want everyone to care for the world that God created. Why would any creator create something and not care if anyone destroyed it? To put it simply, God DOES care whether we preserve the environment that we are responsible for.
This may sound a little idealistic to many of my readers. And in many ways, it is. It is idealistic. It is one of those “perfect world” attributes. It’s idealistic because real life is much more complicated than caring for the environment or not. Most of us probably drove to work today, emitting CO2 along the way. It’s easy for someone else to say that you need to take public transportation, live within walking distance, or bike to work, but it’s much more complicated than that, isn’t it? We obviously need to work and earn a living for our families, but at what cost to the environment. Until recently, there was no easy solution to this dilemma.
What’s changed? The introduction of the hybrid or the eco friendly car. Along with the invention of hybrid or electric cars, we have seen the fuel efficiency increased of cars and the potential for decreasing the CO2 emissions. Today, I’d like to talk about whether the hybrid is a necessity for bible-believing Christians.
Green Bible Verses
For those who don’t agree with my basic premise that environmental concern is a Christian theme, here are several passages that illustrate the green theme within the Bible.
“God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.”
“‘Do not pollute the land where you are… 34 Do not defile the landwhere you live and where I dwell, for I, the Lord, dwell among the Israelites.’”
“The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.”
…destroying those who destroy the earth.
While I don’t have time to give the context of each of the above passages, suffice it to say that each one supports this idea of preserving God’s creation. Throughout the Bible we are told to preserve that which God has given us. Why would the earth be any different?
Why You Should Get a Hybrid
Getting a hybrid car may seem like an unnecessary expense (or too costly of an expense to justify the reward), but it is well worth it. In fact, there are a number of benefits for getting a hybrid.
- Lower Fuel Costs – The obvious savings on gas is huge. If you look at the best green cars and see that they get 50% better MPG, that means your fuel costs are 2/3 of what they used to be.
- Less CO2 Emissions – While this may also be obvious, people fail to realize how much lower Carbon Dioxide levels benefit them. It not only means less pollution to the earth, but also lower rates of environment-caused diseases/medical conditions.
- Increased Focus on Hybrids by Manufacturers – Another benefit of buying a green car is that it notifies manufacturers that consumers want more fuel efficient cars. Manufacturers want to make a profit, so they will target their products appropriately. Think about how big of a change the car industry could have if consumers demanded more fuel efficient cars. It is starting to move that way now with completely electric cars, but it still has a long way to go.
While it may take a few more years for hybrid cars to become popular, it doesn’t mean that you should wait. The increased affordability and instant savings in gas should be enough. If it isn’t, consider your ethical commitments to preserve that which God created.
Applying for a home loan isn’t always just a personal experience; you may want to consider making an application in the name of a company or a trust. So is that actually possible and what are the positives and negatives?
Trusts in particular are popular for protection of assets, and tax advantages. It’s important to know where you stand if you’re attempting to borrow as a trust, or as a company; will it really be advantageous?Continue Reading...
When you have bad credit, securing a loan for any purpose is a challenge. The more inquiries you have into your credit report, the harder it will be to obtain the loan. It is ideal to try and clear up a few small accounts on your credit report before applying for a loan to aid your chances of approval. There are a few other options discussed below to help you get the funds you need quickly.Continue Reading...
If you have been injured in an accident or you have won a worker’s compensation claim or you have won a settlement for the wrongful death of a person you depended upon, then in all probability you will get the compensation you are to receive in the form of an annuity. This annuity pays out awards from any form or type of legal settlement or lottery winnings or as has been mentioned earlier, any award from worker’s compensation claim or personal injury case in the manner of a periodic inflow of cash which has a number of tax advantages added with it. This sort of annuity scheme is called a structured settlement which is the most beneficial and most advantageous way to avail money to be received in the form of settlements.
The many advantages of structured settlements
There are many benefits of structured settlements, the most noteworthy among which is the exemption from all form of taxes, be it state taxes or federal taxes or local income taxes. This means that the savings of the investor in structured settlements is much higher than the investor in any other securities. In addition to this the fact that this form of annuities does not depend at all on any economic condition and the payment can be scheduled upon your wish and desire and can be deferred or may begin immediately makes up for the icing on the cake.
What is a cash annuity and what are its variables?
If at any moment you find yourself trapped in any financial difficulties and are in dire need of cash then you may sell your annuity and upon the determination, receive a lump sum amount in lieu of your future annuity incomes. In determination of the amount one will have a number of factors need to be taken into consideration, these are as follows:
Interest rate – The interest rate plays a crucial factor in determining the amount one receives on sale of annuity.
Inflation – The ongoing rate of inflation in the economy will also affect the amount receivable on the sale of the annuity.
Payments- The amount of annuity that one wants to sell will also be a factor in determining the cash amount which will be received by the investor wanting to sell the annuity.
Demand- At last, the demand for the payments will also affect the scales when it comes to determining the amount that you are likely to receive upon sale of the annuity.
The benefits of selling structured settlement annuities
When one decides to sell off structured settlement annuities, he or she is subjected to a number of benefits. These advantages are enumerated as below:
Liquidity – Probably the most important factor of selling structured settlement annuities, liquidity assures you that you will not be cash strapped. This liquidity backs individuals not only financially but also mentally to go ahead with their dreams, plans and ideas. Whenever facing a financial crisis, you can encash your structured settlements and get lump sum cash.
Time value of money – When one sells structured settlement annuities, one can also take advantage of time value of money. Generally, it is seen that the rate of earning in case of the money in hand is much more than the amount which may be received on a future date. Inflation reduces the future value of money and hence the earning capacity is much more if the amount is given a chance to earn interest.
Slow annuities – what are they and what are their benefits
Slow annuities generally refer to normal annuities which cannot be cashed when one desires i.e. in the contract of the annuity with the company there is no clause as to sell the annuity before its maturity. These annuities are suitable for those who are assured that they will not be subjected to any financial problems. There are a number of benefits of these annuities as well such as:
Tax Free: Most of such annuities are freed from the burden of tax by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This implies that your savings will be more.
Not affected by the economic condition: These annuities are not at all affected by the economic situation and are hence risk free.
Why opt for selling them off rather than clinging on?
When one has to make a choice between encashing now and letting the annuities continue, one must weigh in pros and cons of both and after careful analysis it will be evident that it is far better to go for the former:
An investor is assured of availability of cash in his hour of need.
Money which is in hand at the moment, if invested will fetch a lot much more than the amount which one will receive after a decade or any time period.
In case of slow annuities, IRS applies penalties and a huge surrender charge also has to be paid if one withdraws fund before the completion of age of 59 and half years.
With the rise in inflation the actual value of money that one receives in a slow annuity is less.
So, now that you are aware of all the factors as to why encashing now scores over slow annuities, invest wisely and efficiently!
I’ve written extensively about tithing in the bible, New Covenant giving, and New Covenant giving guidelines for Christians. Not too long ago, I wrote that tithing is so Old Testament. I explained that I don’t hate tithing, but I’m against teaching it because we have a much better example for giving in the life of Jesus Christ.
But to make my point a little clearer on how New Covenant giving differs from Old Testament tithing, I thought it would be helpful to look at Jesus’ teaching. I’m going to divide this into two sections. First, we’ll look at what Jesus taught about tithing. Then, we’ll look at his other teaching on giving in general. This will be the verses only – no commentary.
What Jesus Taught about Tithing
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, and have left undone the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faith. But you ought to have done these, and not to have left the other undone.
Matthew 23:23 (WEB)
But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, but you bypass justice and the love of God. You ought to have done these, and not to have left the other undone.
Luke 11:42 (WEB)
9 He spoke also this parable to certain people who were convinced of their own righteousness, and who despised all others. 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray; one was a Pharisee, and the other was a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed to himself like this: ‘God, I thank you, that I am not like the rest of men, extortioners, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week. I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far away, wouldn’t even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Luke 18:9-14 (WEB)
And that’s it. That’s all Jesus said about tithing.
What Jesus Taught about Giving
23 If therefore you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has anything against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Matthew 5:23-24 (WEB)
Give to him who asks you, and don’t turn away him who desires to borrow from you.
Matthew 5:42 (WEB)
Give to everyone who asks you, and don’t ask him who takes away your goods to give them back again.
Luke 6:30 (WEB)
35 …for I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in. 36 I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you; or thirsty, and give you a drink? 38 When did we see you as a stranger, and take you in; or naked, and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?’ 40 “The King will answer them, ‘Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Matthew 25:35-40 (WEB)
32 If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive back as much. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing back; and your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind toward the unthankful and evil.
Luke 6:32-35 (WEB)
But give for gifts to the needy those things which are within, and behold, all things will be clean to you.
Luke 11:41 (WEB)
33 Sell that which you have, and give gifts to the needy. Make for yourselves purses which don’t grow old, a treasure in the heavens that doesn’t fail, where no thief approaches, neither moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Luke 12:33-34 (WEB)
12 He also said to the one who had invited him, “When you make a dinner or a supper, don’t call your friends, nor your brothers, nor your kinsmen, nor rich neighbors, or perhaps they might also return the favor, and pay you back. 13 But when you make a feast, ask the poor, the maimed, the lame, or the blind; 14 and you will be blessed, because they don’t have the resources to repay you. For you will be repaid in the resurrection of the righteous.”
Luke 14:12-14 (WEB)
In all things I gave you an example, that so laboring you ought to help the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Acts 20:35 (WEB)
For whoever will give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because you are Christ’s, most certainly I tell you, he will in no way lose his reward.
Mark 9:41 (WEB)
33 But a certain Samaritan, as he traveled, came where he was. When he saw him, he was moved with compassion, 34 came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. He set him on his own animal, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, and gave them to the host, and said to him, ‘Take care of him. Whatever you spend beyond that, I will repay you when I return.’
Luke 10:33-35 (WEB)
1 He looked up, and saw the rich people who were putting their gifts into the treasury. 2 He saw a certain poor widow casting in two small brass coins. 3 He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow put in more than all of them, 4 for all these put in gifts for God from their abundance, but she, out of her poverty, put in all that she had to live on.”
Luke 21:1-4 (WEB)
1 Be careful that you don’t do your charitable giving before men, to be seen by them, or else you have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 2 Therefore when you do merciful deeds, don’t sound a trumpet before yourself, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may get glory from men. Most certainly I tell you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you do merciful deeds, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand does, 4 so that your merciful deeds may be in secret, then your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
Matthew 6:1-4 (WEB)
21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 But when the young man heard the saying, he went away sad, for he was one who had great possessions. 23 Jesus said to his disciples, “Most certainly I say to you, a rich man will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven with difficulty. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard it, they were exceedingly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 Looking at them, Jesus said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter answered, “Behold, we have left everything, and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Most certainly I tell you that you who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on the throne of his glory, you also will sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 Everyone who has left houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive one hundred times, and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many will be last who are first; and first who are last.
Matthew 19:21-30 (WEB)
21 Jesus looking at him loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack. Go, sell whatever you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me, taking up the cross.” 22 But his face fell at that saying, and he went away sorrowful, for he was one who had great possessions. 23 Jesus looked around, and said to his disciples, “How difficult it is for those who have riches to enter into the Kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus answered again, “Children, how hard is it for those who trust in riches to enter into the Kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.” 26 They were exceedingly astonished, saying to him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus, looking at them, said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God, for all things are possible with God.” 28 Peter began to tell him, “Behold, we have left all, and have followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Most certainly I tell you, there is no one who has left house, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or land, for my sake, and for the sake of the Good News, 30 but he will receive one hundred times more now in this time, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and land, with persecutions; and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last; and the last first.”
Mark 10:21-31 (WEB)
22 When Jesus heard these things, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have, and distribute it to the poor. You will have treasure in heaven. Come, follow me.” 23 But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was very rich. 24 Jesus, seeing that he became very sad, said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter into the Kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to enter in through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.” 26 Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” 27 But he said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” 28 Peter said, “Look, we have left everything, and followed you.” 29 He said to them, “Most certainly I tell you, there is no one who has left house, or wife, or brothers, or parents, or children, for the Kingdom of God’s sake, 30 who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the world to come, eternal life.”
Luke 18:22-30 (WEB)
Note: I didn’t include Luke 6:38 in this list because when I read it in context Jesus seems to be speaking about giving forgiveness and mercy rather than money.
I’m seeing a pattern in Jesus’ teaching and it’s not tithing. I wonder why so many churches spend more time talking about tithing than Jesus did…