Teaching Kids to Tithe: Joyfully, Generously, and Sacrificially

March 12, 2024

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Today's question says, "How do I teach my children about tithing?" Discover what the bible says about tithing and practical tips to help your kids honor God, give joyfully, and wisely manage their finances in this episode of the Foundation Worldview Podcast.


Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.

Hello friends, and welcome to another episode of the Foundation Worldview Podcast where we seek to answer your questions so that you can equip the children that God has placed in your care to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter and understand the truth of the biblical Worldview. I'm your host, Elizabeth Urbanowicz, and I'm thrilled that you've joined me for another episode today.

Today's question is short, sweet, and simple, and it says, "How do I teach my children about tithing?" Really interesting question, and actually depending on your view of the new covenant believers' relationship to the Old Testament, law determines whether or not you believe that tithing is a biblical requirement for Christians. However, no matter what you believe about the new covenant believers' relationship to the law, it is very clear throughout the whole of Scripture that God desires for his people to give joyfully, generously and sacrificially. So arguably giving that is joyful, generous, and sacrificial could be a good deal more than 10%. However, 10% is a good baseline to teach our children. So no matter your view of the Christian's relationship to the law, we are going to talk about how can we teach our children to give joyfully, generously and sacrificially with at least 10% as the baseline.

Now, before we dive down into answering this question today, if you have found the content of this podcast beneficial, I would ask that you would like and subscribe to make sure that you don't miss any future episodes and also ask that you would invest time writing a review or leaving a comment if you're watching on YouTube, just to help more people discover this content so that we can help as many Christian adults as possible equip their kids to think critically and biblically. Also, if you have a question that you would like for me to answer on a future Foundation Worldview Podcast, you can submit that question by going to FoundationWorldview.com/podcast.

Now, I'm going to start off my answer to this question as I start off the answer to many Foundation Worldview podcast questions, and that is with asking ourselves, what is the goal? What is the goal in teaching our children to give at least 10%? And I would say that this goal that we have should be threefold, that first we want our children to honor God. Second, we want them to be generous. We want generous children who love giving and we want to teach them how to wisely manage the finances that God provides. So we're going to look at, okay, how can we meet this threefold goal of helping our children honor God, be generous and wisely manage the finances that God provides?

So first we're going to look at honoring God. So what I would recommend here is that we go through passages of Scripture with our children that talk about giving, and then ask our children what is revealed in each passage so that our children understand that this isn't just a family thing, this isn't just something that comes from us, but this is actually commanded by God that we are to honor God with our wealth. And so several passages that I think that I've pulled out that I think are really helpful to go through. The first one is second Corinthians chapter 9:6-7, and this passage says, "the point is this, whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion for God loves a cheerful giver. "

So we can read this passage with our children and then say, "okay, what does this passage reveal about giving? Well, the first thing it reveals is that we are to give what we have decided to give, okay, that we're not to give reluctantly. We're not to give under compulsion, but we're to determine, okay, what should I give? And then it also tells us that God loves when we give joyfully, when we give cheerfully. So giving should be a joyful thing. We should be so grateful that we have the opportunity to give back to God just a small portion of what he has so graciously given to us."

Another passage we can take our children children to is Proverbs 3:9-10. This passage says, "Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce, then your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will be bursting with wine."

Now, those of you who have taken the children in your care through Foundation Studying the Bible Curriculum, you know that when in our third unit, when we're covering different genres, when we talk about the genre of Proverbs, we talk about how Proverbs are general wisdom. Wisdom that is generally true. It's not guaranteed promises. And so we want to talk with our kids about this, that when we read a proverb, it's not a guaranteed promise, but it is general wisdom. So it's not a guarantee that if we give generously that that means we're going to be the wealthy of the wealthy in our society, but it is a general principle. And so we can ask our kids, "okay, what is this general principle that when we honor God with our money, our hearts are going to be in the right place and then we're going to be much more likely to wisely steward what God provides for us, and therefore not always worrying about what's happening financially."

Another passage to take our kids to is Matthew 6:1-4, and this passage says, "But beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them. For them, you'll have no reward from your father who is in heaven. Thus when you give to the needy sound, no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received the reward in full, but when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing so that your giving may be in secret and your father who sees in secret will reward you." So then we can ask our kids, "okay, what does this passage reveal about giving? It reveals that God does not want us to boast about our giving." Our giving should be done in secret. We're not supposed to get our name on the plaque of some building that we've helped to create. We don't want to post pictures of ourselves on Facebook or some other social media platform of us giving, whether it's of our finances or of our time that we're just supposed to do this quietly and doing it as unto the Lord not for man's praise.

Then a final passage of Scripture that I think is good to help our kids think through is Mark 12:41-44. This passage says, "And he, it's talking about Jesus sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money in the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums, and a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. 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 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."

And so when we ask our kids, what does this reveal about giving? It reveals that it's not about the actual amount that God isn't more impressed by someone who gives a million dollars than someone who gives $10, but who is actually giving generously? For someone who only has $20, $10 is a huge sacrifice where for someone who has a hundred million dollars, giving a million dollars isn't that huge of a sacrifice. And so it's more about the attitude of our heart and are we actually giving generously toward God? So those are great passages we can take our kids to and just ask them what is revealed about giving? And then once we've gone through those passages, we can ask our kids, okay, so what should this tell us about how giving? So again, we're always rooting this in Scripture.

Now, the second part of the goal, we want to equip our children to be generous. And so some ways that I think we can do this is first off, we can just discuss the concept of giving 10% as a baseline that in the Old Testament law, God commanded his people to give one 10th or 10% of their income, and this is a really good baseline for us that we should give at least 10% of the money that we have back to God. This doesn't mean that that's all that we should give. We should be even more generous than that with our wealth. And so just helping our kids understand this baseline that we should be giving at least 10% of our income back to the Lord, then we can give them a special place to set this money aside.

If you have younger kids, something fun that you can do, you can even go to Hobby Lobby or Michael's, and you can just buy a little wooden bank or your little treasure chest, and you can have them paint it or put stickers on it. And this can be the place where they're going to keep their money that they are going to give back to the Lord. So every time they earn an allowance or they do a job and they get some money or they have birthday money or they do a lemonade stand, they can put the money that they're going to give in this box. And then for special events where they're going to gain more money, some of the events I just mentioned like a birthday or a lemonade stand or something like that, then when they have more finances, we can have them pray and say, "okay, you know what I want you to do? I want you to go talk to God, and I want you to ask him how much of this money he would like for you to give to him and let them pray about it, and 10% will be the baseline, but we want to develop generous hearts."

So hopefully they'll come back a few days later and want to give even more than 10% of the finances that God has currently entrusted them with. And then I would just encourage those watching and listening as a family to seek to meet the needs of others, to actually set aside part of your budget to be generous so that your children see you not only giving at church, but giving to families that are in need.

This is something that I know that I just watched my parents do as a child, that my parents, they were not wealthy, nor were they flashy. They followed the principles in Scripture, but I remember even actually, my parents probably don't even know that I know this, but I had big ears when I was a child and I would listen to everything, and I just remember overhearing this conversation that my parents were having, that a missionary family that had come to our church for a missions conference, their minivan had broken down and it was something big. I don't know if it was like the transmission, but it was something big in the van that broke down. And my parents knew that they wouldn't have the money to fix it. And so I remember hearing them talking and just saying like, "okay, this is going to be several thousand dollars. How can we rework our budget so that we can give them the finances that they need to fix their van?"

And I remember another time, another missionary family at our church that they were overseas and their house was broken into, and so much of their kids' stuff was taken. And I remember hearing my parents talk about like, "okay, what can we do? How can we give to this to try to replace the things that had been taken from this missionary family?" And that's just something that I know has stuck with me and has stuck with both of my siblings that none of us talk about what we give, but I just know that this is a routine that's just in place that my parents have just modeled for us.

And as an adult, something that I have found really helpful because as a teacher, I was not making a large salary and then starting up the Foundation Worldview company, there were so many months where I didn't even know if I was going to get a paycheck at all. So I've been in a position frequently where I've had to be very, very careful with my finances, but I thought, I really want to be able to be generous. So how can I do this? And so one thing that I found that's helpful to do is just to budget in a certain amount just towards generosity. That's not the money that I'm giving to church, but just to say what needs are going to arise? And I want to make sure that I have at least much money in my budget every month to be able to help meet the needs of others.

So just think through as a family, what are some things that you can do just to get into this habit of giving joyfully, generously and sacrificially. And then the third part of this goal is to equip our kids to wisely manage the finances that God has given them. And so we want to help, even from a young age, help our children make a plan for how they're going to spend their money. Because I watch the way that a lot of families do this, and I think, oh, I think this is really setting their kids up for failure, that whatever money comes in, the kids just get to spend on toys or whatever they want. Now, I don't know about you, but as an adult, I get to spend very little of my money on things that I actually want to purchase. Most of my finances go towards my mortgage.

They go towards paying the utilities, things like that where there might be a teeny little bit left over for fun, but we don't want our kids to grow up just thinking, oh, 90% of my money can all be spent on me and how I want it. So we want to help them budget. So not just teaching them to set aside a certain amount to give at church, but also set a certain aside. People are going to have birthdays and we're going to need to buy them birthday presents, so what money are we going to set aside for that? Sometimes we might be at the grocery store and there might be a special treat you want to buy, and mommy and daddy aren't going to buy it for you, so what money can you set aside for that? So just teaching them how to do that.

I know some people do the envelopes method, which when you're a child and you might only have $20 to deal with, that can be a good thing to do when you're an adult and you're dealing with thousands of dollars. I don't know necessarily the wisdom in that, but you can do that where you set aside an envelope for everything and have your kids put money in the different envelope, or I think what's probably much more realistic in this digital age is just to create a little chart for them, like a little mini spreadsheet, to actually budget out what should be in each budget category. And then we're going to want to make sure, as I mentioned before, that we're helping our children curb their natural sinful appetite for just having more and more and more and more that yes, we want them to be able to spend some of their money on things that they want and things that are fun, but we don't want them to get into the habit of spending the majority of their money in that way.

I just saw this in my own life. I had a friend several years ago, and she came to me and she actually asked me if I could help her with her budget because she was in lots of debt both from college and then from credit cards. And as she and I sat down, we tried to work out a budget, but then as I asked her questions, it just became so obvious that there was just certain things that she had gained an appetite for while she was growing up, that her parents just let this appetite grow and grow and grow so that she had really unhealthy spending patterns as an adult, because as a child, she was just allowed to spend lots of money on fun drinks at Starbucks or on new or other things. And as we went through her budget, it was just so obvious that she was continuing to get into more and more and more debt because she just thought that she needed a huge Starbucks budget every month and this budget for clothing.

So we want to make sure that we are helping to cultivate the right appetites in our children's hearts, that they actually get excited about being generous when they gain more money, that it's, "oh my goodness, how exciting is this? God has given me this money and that I get to give a portion of it back, and how can I use this money to bless others?" So those are my three encouragement for us. We want to equip our kids to honor God, to be generous and to wisely manage their finances.

Well, that's a wrap for this episode. But as always, my prayer for you as we leave this time together is that no matter the situation in which you and the children, God is placed in your care, find yourselves that you would trust that God is working all things together for your good by using all things to conform you more into the image of His Son. I'll see you next time

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