Giving Richly and Living Generously
It strikes me that one of the foremost reasons God gave us a tithe is to free us from consumerism. In calling us to give generously to the household of faith, and to support Christians in need (see 1 and 2 Corinthians), God is programming us with a non-self-centered mindset. He has commanded, in a sense, that we think of others. Giving generously out of your earnings, then, is a key way that you as a Christian can fight cultural materialism and engender a generous spirit within yourself. If the dark side of possessions is creeping possessivism, then the bright side is cheerful philanthropy, in which we give what would seem to be an unsensible amount to our church and to needy Christians.
How much should you give? I don't know. But I do know this: give generously, and do so without extreme worry about the future. The Bible teaches with absolute clarity that you and I are not to worry about tomorrow. That does not mean that we are insensible regarding the future, but it does mean that we give without letting fear and anxiety grip our hearts regarding financial matters. All too often, financial planning becomes a back-alley entrance for greed and anxiety. Don't allow this to happen in yourself. Take care for the future, spend wisely, but always give generously. Remember, the Lord loves a cheerful giver, and as has so often been the case in my own life, He loves those who give in a very generous way. So often, I think it is the case that it is not those who most jealously guard their finances who are financially blessed. This is sometimes the case, but I have seen many cases in which it was those who gave richly and lived generously who knew the Lord's blessing. Are you able to live this way? Or are you possessed by your possessions?