QUESTION: Tim in Ontario and his wife drive beaters. This is the third time they’ve had to use the emergency fund with a truck in the shop. Is it possible they’re giving too much?
ANSWER: Sure, it’s possible. You need to be giving some because giving changes you into a giver, and givers are less selfish people and have a tendency toward more prosperity versus selfish jerks. You want to be constantly turning yourself into a more generous person. If you’re giving away the farm and there’s nothing left for the kids to eat, then you are giving away too much at that point. For Christians or Jewish people, the Bible says to give a tenth of your income to your local church.
I think it’s very important that you give, and you do a great job. Really, what I think or what you think doesn’t matter. What really does matter to you and me is what the Scriptures say—what the Bible says, in other words. I find very little indication that you should give above the tithe until you’ve taken care of your own household. Tithing off the top first before you do anything else I believe is scriptural. I could take you through a Bible study and show you that exactly. Above that would be called an offering, and the primary indication—there’s not exact Scripture on it—is that offerings are done from surplus. Then you go all the way back to 1 Timothy 5:8, I believe it is, and it says to take care of your own household first. Your first goal after the tithe is take care of your household. Then above that to support other ministries and other things with your giving.
It sounds like you guys are living hand-to-mouth, and you’re probably going to have to scale back some of these other ministry supports until you get your household done. That’s not a permanent declaration, and it’s not an absolute declaration, but it is something you’re going to have to consider but with the idea that we’re going to get our foundation laid and then give a lot more later. We certainly give a lot more than 10% of our income today, but we’re able to and not even blink at home, so to speak. When we were broke and just barely getting by, my first obligation after my tithe was to my family. Biblically, that’s my first obligation.
I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong. It’s just something for you to consider the wisdom of the balance of this in light of the Scriptures.