Archives For Giving

How Much Do I Need to Give?

Corey —  April 3, 2012

Have you ever wondered how much you NEED to give? Whether you are wondering about the standard amount of tithing or giving to charities, this is a very popular question. Regrettably, this question has been debated for decades (if not longer) with no happy answer. While I will work to answer this question, I want to point out that I don’t intend to give an easy answer. I won’t suggest that you should give this much or that much.

Should Giving be a Necessity?

The first thing I want to point out is that giving should not be a necessity. In my opinion, the question, “How much do I NEED to give?” is the wrong question to ask. In fact, it often misses the purpose of giving altogether. Let me explain. By asking how much do you need to give, you are looking for a set amount to satisfy some mysterious requirement. When we ask this question, as we often do, we are acting as if God wants us to give a certain amount away. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think God is about easy answers. The world that we live in is much more complicated than a simple black and white solution – It’s easy to see why this applies to giving. People’s financial situations are different for everyone, so how can there be a standard for giving?

More importantly, asking what is necessary to give away defeats the purpose of giving in the first place. Giving is suppose to encourage generosity and help for others. Asking this basic question, while it may be intended for good, is actually (at least partially) motivated by selfish desires to satisfy this false assumption of good. I know this to be the case for me. Usually when I ask how much should I give, I am trying to give the bare minimum to appease my conscience or guilt.

Giving Should Never Be Coerced

If you are asking this question, while it may be motivated by this desire to keep more money for yourself, it is moving in the right direction. Asking this question in the first place suggests that you recognize that the world is in bad shape and you want to contribute towards making it a better place. The simple fact is that no one is perfect. There is no ideal person for giving. If we wanted to, we could criticize everyone for being too selfish at times. The purpose is not point out everyone’s faults and therefore justify how we spend our money on ourselves, but instead move towards giving freely.

I should point out that giving should never be seen as a competition. The point isn’t all about just giving more, but changing the motivations behind our giving. After all, the widow’s offering shows us that it’s not the amount that is important, but the sacrifice.

Perhaps the question should not be how much do I need to give or even should I give… but instead, “Why Should I Give?” Perhaps when we begin to buy into this idea of generosity, we will move beyond these legalistic questions of how much or how little… Instead, we may be able to start making a difference in this world.

Why is Giving Important for You?

What is Rich? What does it Mean?

Corey —  March 30, 2012

Do you consider yourself rich? Odds are that you don’t consider yourself rich. My wife and I are both in graduate school and working full-time. While we do okay for ourselves by most standards, in most conversations, we wouldn’t consider ourselves rich. Not by any means.

What Does “Rich” Usually Mean?

When you hear the word, “rich” what do you think of? I am sure everyone has their own image in their mind (and it’s probably relative to your current financial state), but I am sure there are some commonalities. Perhaps it means having enough money so that you never have to worry about making ends meet? Maybe it means driving a nice car or living in a big house?

The truth is that our society often labels “rich” or “wealthy” by the stuff that we have. Not only are we a culture obsessed with material possessions, but because of this, we always think that we aren’t rich. Rich always seems to be defined as the people one or two steps above us. We aren’t rich because we don’t have what THEY have. They’re the ones that are actually rich.

A Different Perspective on Rich

It was a couple years ago that I came across this film and had my perspective radically changed. I always thought that I was not rich – that I was just a middle-class nobody. I failed to realize that I was not looking outside of my culture. Instead, I was buying into the materialistic paradigm.

How does the following film change your perspective?

Here are some key lines that stood out to me:

  • 43% of the world’s population live without basic sanitation
  • 18% live without an improved water source
  • 20% of the population owns 75% of the wealth
  • 14% are hungry or malnurished
  • only 8% have an internet connection

The list could go on and on. The key theme for me is realizing how much I already have and take for granted. The truth is that my wife and I are pretty comfortable. We have a large emergency fund where we could survive for about 10 months without earning any income – and that’s without cutting any major expenses.

What Does This Mean?

Understanding myself as rich ultimately means a new appreciation for the things I have AND a higher importance on correcting the imbalance in the world. Instead of continuing within a highly capitalistic society that is driven by material possessions, this new understanding forces me to give to others. Generosity is a defining factor of Christianity – and it’s not just a coincidence.

The truth is that many of who wouldn’t normally consider ourselves rich are indeed rich. Christians are forced to recognize this and do something about it. We are called to use our wealth and/or status to help bring about change in the world – not to reinforce it.

Does a global understanding of wealth/rich change your self-perception?


How is Christian Finance Unique?

Corey —  March 25, 2012

One of the many things that has kept me from starting a Christian personal finance website to this point is the fact that I have been left wondering what is so unique about Christianity from other finances. Often, the token distinction between a Christian personal finance blog and just a regular old personal finance blog is the attention to one issue: tithing. Is this really the only distinction between a Christian personal finance blog and any other finance blog?

Before I dive into this question further, another question that haunts me is whether it makes a difference. Does it matter if Christian finance is unique? What I mean is that there seems to be a troubling exclusiveness to Christianity. Growing up in a Christian family, it is easy for me to say that this rings true with my experience. There is a constant need within some Christian communities to completely separate themselves from the rest of the world. Understanding these two issues will not only help me focus and share the direction of the site, but should also clear up some misconceptions about Christianity.

Does Christianity Need to be Exclusive?

The first of these two questions is then, whether Christianity needs to be exclusive. This issue arises out of a tradition that reinforces a false dualism. Many people have heard the terms sacred (or Christian) and secular. These are terms that have changed meanings over the years. Nowadays, these terms are used to apply strict labels to items, people, movements, etc. Have you ever heard of music being defined as secular?

Growing up in a Christian home, I was determined to listen to only “Christian” music. While I wouldn’t have admitted it at the time, it was along the assumption that this would make me a better Christian. Somehow, I understood the path or identity of a Christian to be one who separated him/herself from anything specifically Christian. This mentality stems out of this strict and false binary. It has to be either Christian or secular. There is no middle ground or shade of gray.

In the past few years, I have come to realize that the world is much more complicated than this simple division. I am reminded that I am not one to judge someone’s identity with strict labels. Instead, I have come to understand the complexity in which this world exists and thrives.

How do I Distinguish Christian Personal Finance from Personal Finance

If my understanding of the world is one that is complicated, without strict borders, the question naturally arises how to distinguish christian approach to personal finance. The question, “How is Christian finance different?” still echoes. The easy answer would be to continually emphasizing themes of giving, generosity, and compassion for those without. This is why Christian blogs often discuss tithing, or giving and using the Bible as a source of information. It is the easiest overlap of the two.

The more difficult answer would be that there isn’t always a distinction. Sometimes, the “Christian” financial advice is the same as advice that does not self-identify as Christian. The truth is that in managing your personal finances, everyone is forced to wrestle with questions that Christians also face. How much should I save for my future? Am I giving enough to help the world? Am I treating myself too much? Are my spending habits healthy? Even in using the Bible as a source, everyone is interpreting it in their own context…

Personal finances offers us a unique overlap with the Christian faith. Yet, at the same time – it is not exclusively Christian. Sometimes the need to be exclusive is more of a deterrent than anything else. Perhaps the need to separate or distinguish Christian personal finance is all in vain.

Do you know how much you should be spending on various bills or areas in your budget? Do you know what the “experts” recommend? If you are wondering what you should be doing when you budget or how much money should be designated to certain areas of your budget, it is important to consult popular advice, but it doesn’t mean it should be the end all answer. Finding a happy balance should be something that you take the time to discern. There are many people out there that want to tell you where to spend your money or how much to give. I want to suggest that this is just impractical.

What the “Experts” Tell You to Spend / Give

Many people use national averages to regulate their spending. One of the most common guidelines is that you should not spend more than more than 40% of your income on housing. This means that when you add up your household income, no more than $.40 for every dollar that you earn should be spent on housing-related costs. This sounds like a great guideline (as it prevents people from overspending), but it is limited in its scope. I’ll get to that in a minute.

Another popular rule of thumb, particularly within Christian circles, is that you should tithe 10%. Many Christian circles believe that you are required to give 10% of your income to the church because it is biblical. While Christian tithing is an important value because of its indication of generosity, this hard and fast rule is rather limited and fails to highlight the real importance for tithing.

Why These Rule of Thumbs are Limited

When it comes to understand these common suggestions for how we should spend our money, it becomes clear to me that we have to accept them with a grain of salt. They may be beneficial for comparison, but they should not be followed strictly. Here’s where the suggestions fall apart.

The recommendation not to spend more than 40% is rather limited because it does not account for the different regions of the country. My wife and I live in the greater NYC area and housing (along with cost of living) is higher than almost anywhere else in the country. Yet, while housing is higher, our transportation costs are significantly lower than my siblings as they are required to have to cars. My wife and I are able to get by with one car that we drive infrequently because of our access to public transportation. To make a long story short, it doesn’t account for the many variables that affect your budget. Spending more than 40% of your budget may be perfectly okay if other costs are lower.

Thinking about strict and fast rules about giving or spending always reminds me about the Widow’s offering in the gospel of Mark. Here’s what Mark 12:41-44 says…

41  And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny.[a]43 And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. 44 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

The truth is that many of these guidelines break down because of the different incomes that people earning. Giving 10% is a lot easier for someone earning 100k each year than a poor graduate student who is barely paying for the cost of tuition. The truth is that many recommendations prove their inadequacy when you try to appropriate them to people with lower incomes.

If you are trying to figure out how to budget, it’s important to listen to recommendations as long as you are making your own decision after that. If you fall into cookie-cutter plans that don’t apply to you, you could become frustrated and give up being responsible with your finances. My advice would be to take time to discern what will work for you and what is the best use of your money, paying close attention to your motives when doing so.

On the About page, I state that Provident Planning is dedicated to exploring God’s Provident Plan for the personal finances of Christians. But what does that mean? What is God’s Provident Plan? It’s God’s clear Biblical message that through contentment in Christ, diligent work, and good stewardship Christians can prosper so we can give generously in the name of Christ. By following the Provident Plan, Christians can glorify God through their finances.

This message is what I discovered as I have studied personal finance in the Bible. As a Christian and someone who studied financial planning in college, I wanted to know how I could give sound, Biblical advice, but I found so many conflicting opinions that I felt I should find out for myself. After searching for all the Bible verses I could find about personal finance, I began to see God’s wonderful plan for a Christian’s personal finances.

It’s not a plan focused on making Christians rich, or how we can retire early, or the things we can do to make us feel good about ourselves or our money. No – just like every other part of God’s plans for Christians it brings glory to His name and strengthens the witness of Christ in the world. If all Christians followed God’s Provident Plan for their finances, we would radically change the Church and the world. And while it involves how we handle our money – it’s all dependent and focused on the transformation that occurs when we fully give ourselves to Christ and realize the power of His death, resurrection, and the life we have in Him. Let’s take a closer look at each part of God’s Provident Plan.

Contentment in Christ

Once we have decided to follow Jesus, He becomes everything to us. We are in a continual struggle against Satan to keep other things (especially money) from taking the place of Christ. When we find contentment in Christ and Christ alone, the importance of money in our lives diminishes and pales to the value we place on Jesus. We learn the secret to being happy in all situations – whether we’re full or starving, rich or poor, employed or jobless, single or married – nothing in this life matters at all when compared to the glorious gift of Jesus and the fact that no one and no circumstance can take that away from us. We see everything in light of eternity, and we find that nothing on earth is of more value than our faith in Christ. We come to fully believe and trust that God cares for us and will provide everything we need.

Once we have this habit of always finding our contentment in Christ, the Spirit will teach us to place much less importance on material things. We will no longer be focused solely on our own needs and wants – an early retirement, a bigger house, a nicer car, and so on. Instead, we’ll be consumed with a desire to focus on the needs of others – to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, and show God’s love to the world through our faith and our deeds. We’ll spend less and less on ourselves as we give more and more to others.

You can read more about contentment in the Bible here or by downloading a free copy of Contentment Is Wealth.

Diligent Work

Where contentment helps us to spend less on ourselves, understanding God’s call to work diligently helps us earn more money. As the gap between our spending and our income grows, we are left with more to manage wisely, prosper, and then give generously to the needs of others. The attitude and spirit we have as we approach our work can also glorify and honor God’s name. His witness can be seen in how we deal with people in our businesses and our motivation in our work.

You can read more about hard work in the Bible here.

Good Stewardship

While the Bible says little about financial planning as we know it today, God has shown us the value of using wisdom and prudence in managing our affairs. There are verses that speak to planning ahead, saving, avoiding debt, and other practical matters we will encounter in our personal finances. By wisely managing the blessings God provides (that gap between our income and our spending), we can be good stewards and have even more to give in His name.


As we follow God’s teaching on contentment, diligent work, and good stewardship, He will bless and prosper us. When we think about prosperity our focus needs to be on having God’s view of prosperity and its purpose. Prosperity can come in many other ways than just material blessings, and God wants us to use our prosperity to honor Him – not just make ourselves more comfortable. When God prospers us, it’s so we can further glorify Him as we give more and more to those in need.


Giving is the purpose of God’s Provident Plan. All other aspects of His Provident Plan are a means to this end. Through our contentment in Christ, we spend less so we have more to give. Our hard work provides more income so we will have more to give. Through good stewardship we avoid wasting what God has given us so we will have more to give. Our prosperity comes from God not so we can make ourselves richer but so we can give even more. God’s Provident Plan is completely focused on others – on how we can glorify God by laying down our lives and our wants for the needs of others. We live simply so others can simply live.

At the same time, we’ll realize that God’s Provident Plan gives much to us as well. Peace beyond understanding, joy beyond description, and happiness beyond compare are all ours as we trust ourselves to God’s care. When we first begin following God’s Provident Plan, we hardly realize the potential benefits it will have for our own lives because we were still mired in the views of the world. But as we follow Jesus and see that He is trustworthy and faithful, we become aware of the indestructible treasures in heaven that He has taught us to accumulate.

When we fully grasp God’s Provident Plan, we’ll see that giving in the New Covenant has nothing to do with tithing or percentages. It’s not about requirements, rules, obligations, or blessings or curses. Our giving is to be completely motivated by love – joyous and cheerful as we realize that our sacrifice is not loss but gain in Christ. We give freely, generously, and sacrificially not out of compulsion but out of our joy and contentment in Christ. Such giving is a sign of our total commitment to Christ and His teaching, and it’s a very powerful witness to the world.

Following God’s Provident Plan

Following God’s Provident Plan for our personal finances has huge implications for our lives. It goes against every motive the world gives us for why we should manage our finances well. Instead of focusing on what’s in it for us, we look at what’s in it for God and others. But we know that the rewards God has for us far outweigh the deceitful and false promises of worldly riches. If you feel God calling you to follow His Provident Plan for your finances, please browse around the website and sign up for free updates through email or your favorite feed reader!

Are You a Trader?

Corey —  July 18, 2011

       I’m not talking about stocks or bonds. Are you willing to trade in the pursuit of the “American Dream” and instead pursue God’s Kingdom and His Ways? Check out this video:

       So, are you a trader? Let me know in the comments below!

       The Christian Financial Alliance was created to help readers. The idea is this: Create a panel of biblical finance gurus. People who take seriously the call to teach the Bible accurately with grace and truth. Once a month, we post a question with a response from our panel to provide you with well-rounded, sound, biblical advice. For more on the Christian Financial Alliance (or to join our team) click here.

In your own words, define biblical generosity.

       “Biblical generosity is giving that is a result of a transformed heart. We give because God loved us first and because we long to love, live and give as He did. We want to grab hold of the abundant life in Christ – of which giving is an important part. We are told by Jesus himself that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). By giving we are also able to help release the hold that money can create on our hearts. “Instruct those who are rich in this present world…to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share…so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19) We are told that our heart can’t serve two masters, and by being generous with what God has given us we’re able to release it’s hold on our lives and truly serve Him. “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7) To me giving generously in a biblical manner leads to happiness, fulfillment and to loving others as Christ first loved us.” –

       “Loving your neighbor by using money to make his life better in some way.” –

       “Generosity, in my own words, is being spirit led for giving decisions. If we feel that God is leading us to be generous in a certain way with our money, we should act on this in faith. This requires us to not be overly attached to money, but always remaining open to God’s plan. After all, we’re called to manage it for him. The best way to release the hold on money is to stretch your faith and give to God first out of every paycheck.” –

       “Biblical generosity is fueled by a passion for sharing God’s love with the world. It’s about realizing the great gift we’ve received from God through Jesus Christ and desiring to pass that gift on to others (in a variety of ways – not just money). It’s cheerful, freewill, and sacrificial and is motivated purely by love.” –

       “Biblical generosity is extending the goodness of God and grace of Jesus Christ to the world by living a life of pouring out–of putting the needs of others above ourselves.” –

       “Biblical generosity is seeking first the kingdom of God. It is accepting and adopting a new mind with which we evaluate what makes sense and what is a good financial decision. It is the desire to love God and others – even when others can’t understand those choices. Biblical generosity means acknowledging the blessings of God in our lives and giving him full ownership over everything we have.” –

       “It blesses God when we are generous. It’s an act of worship; it’s a way we can show love to others; it develops character within the giver. When we give freely, we can experience the joy that comes from it and be blessed in our own life as we bless others.”

       “To me, there is one very straightforward passage in scripture that tells us what Biblical generosity looks like, those verses are found in Luke 10:25-37. It’s the story of a Samaritan (who was hated by the Jews), stopping alongside the road, and helping and providing for a Jew, someone that socially despised him. This is the present day equivalent of a well known political nemesis, the star player on a sports team that just beat your team, or someone from a different religion as you. And what Jesus is asking you to do is this, stop what your doing, help them out, and provide for their needs. There is only one way that we are able to meet the scriptural example of being generous. We must love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:31), and we must be willing to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). If our life, not just our answer, looks like this, then I think we are living a Biblically generous lifestyle.” –

For more on the Christian Financial Alliance (or to join our team) click here.

       Readers, how would you define Biblical generosity? Let me know in the comments!