Am I Too Generous?

First, let me start with the situation… I am a faithful tither, not only to my church but to other organizations. My issue is I am not good with my personal finances. My question is… Do I stop tithing to focus on my finances and then go back to tithing once I have control?

I am really adamant about tithing because I have seen how GOD has blessed and kept me through so many trials and misuse of funds. I really want to be on one accord and have peace when it comes to managing my resources and giving…because I love to give and bless others. Please advise.

P.S. I am learning so much from your books, video appearances, and wisdom.

Lesley

Dear Lesley,

We’re so happy to hear that our work is bringing you benefit. It is kind of you to tell us: Thank you.

If we understand your letter correctly, you are spending at a level which is too high for your earnings. This is problematic. At the same time, you are meticulous about giving to charity, which is wonderful—as long as you are giving in the correct way.

What we mean by this is that no matter how small your income, giving 10% of it to charity is possible. The 10% tithe is to be calculated off your net (take home) pay, not your gross (pre-tax) pay. If your religious understanding tells you that the 10%, which is the meaning of the word ‘tithe,’ goes to your church, then that is what you should be giving. If you are giving beyond that because you respond emotionally to appeals or ignore reality, then that is not good. Our advice to you given your current circumstances is to give no more than 10%, but also to give no less.

For some people, giving money out of their wallets, paycheck, or bank account is an agonizing task. Yet, for others, giving generously is easy and what they want to do. Being responsible and not accumulating debt is their challenge. Perhaps you fall into this category.


If so, you can use the incentive of being a giver to motivate you to budget. Look at the money you are wasting in overdue penalties or interest on debt and challenge yourself to cut down on that amount so that you will have what to give to charity. We have seen people enjoy great success following our friend Dave Ramsey’s debt-reduction programs. Put yourself on a strict economic diet and allow yourself the treat of supporting more charities as you are successful in working and saving smarter.

Running the risk of becoming dependent upon charity yourself because you indulge your desire to give financially to others is a false generosity. Practice other ways of giving such as smiling, volunteering your time (after the time allocated for earning money), and being alert to the needs of friends and neighbors.

You see, dear Lesley, we human beings are endlessly complicated. The challenges that one person faces can be the exact opposite of the challenges facing another person. It is just possible that your love of giving is easy to view as a positive when, in your case, it is a temptation that must be resisted.

Looking forward to hearing that you can give generously and responsibly,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

This Ask the Rabbi is dedicated in memory of Haim Livne, age 87, who was murdered in his home by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023. His daughter, Yasmin Zohar, son-in-law, Yaniv Zohar, and two of their three children were also slaughtered during the pogrom.

And with continuing prayers for the safe release of the hostages, among them Agam Berger, who was 19 and is now 20. She, like many of those kidnapped, was led away in her pajamas.


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