Biblical Perspectives on Generosity and Prosperity

Romans 12:6-8, “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us…the one who gives, in generosity”

Giving to the Church

In both the Old and New Testaments, giving to God, the church, and others has always been “free will giving.

  • Tithing, which simply means a tenth, is not mentioned in the New Testament; except for three references to the Old Testament (Matthew 23:23, Luke 18:2, and Hebrews 7:4).
  • In both the Old and New Testaments, believers are obligated to pay their taxes.
  • In Old Testament times, these taxes are referred to as the tithe.
    • In Leviticus 27:30-34, we have the Levite Tax: “A tithe of everything from the land…belongs to the Lord.” This tax paid for the Levites to run the government.
    • In Deuteronomy 12:6-17,  we have effectively a national potluck or the Festival Tithe. “…bring your tithes and special gifts…and your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and and your family shall eat and shall rejoice…” This was required to handle the costs of all the various festivals and celebrations which were a part of Jewish custom.
    • In Deuteronomy 14:28, we have a required giving every third year, which is the Poor Tithe. “At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites…and the foreigners, the fatherless [orphans] and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat…” [see James 1:27 – Pythian Home]
    • Already 23.3%, but, there are three more financial requirements:
      • In Leviticus 19:9, the Jews were instructed, “When you reap the not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleaning of your harvest.” Why? You were to leave that for the poor to eat.
      • In Exodus 23:10, they could only work the land for six years and were required to let it lie fallow in the seventh year, “Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow…”
      • Finally, in Deuteronomy 15:1, they were required to cancel all debts every seven years, “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release.”

God’s promise to Israel for their free will giving is expressed in Proverbs 3:9, “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing…”  This is course temporal vs. spiritual, and although the spirit of generosity will be awarded one way or another, there is no guarantee, especially in the church age, that this is an automatic promise. [Note: you will hear this as a common promise from false teachers.]

2 Corinthians 9:6-7, is the general verse concerning giving in the Church Age: “…Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Another verse is, 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, where Paul says: “Now concerning the collection for the saints…On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.” Notice the timing: each Sunday, the amount: as one prospers, and the recipient: the church and needy believers.

Giving, borrowing, and lending to others

Pray for opportunities to help others financially. Proverbs 19:17 advises, “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.” As a general rule, believers should give and not lend. God will repay, and lending only causes problems. If you don’t feel God’s leading, neither lend nor give.

Where possible, don’t borrow. Proverbs 22:7 states, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” Additionally, Romans 13:8 advises, Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” [Christianity sets you free, the opposite of being a slave.  See John 8:36, where Jesus says, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”]

One’s refusal to meet the needs of others is a sign of immaturity or, worse yet, non-belief. 1 John 3:17 warns, “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”

Don’t co-sign for another’s loan – Proverbs 17:18, “One who lacks sense gives a pledge and puts up security in the presence of his neighbor.” This is not the only verse, as others also warn against co-signing.

How is excess wealth to be used? According to 1 Timothy 6:17-19, “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” Our prayer for more money is not for accumulation but rather to help meet the needs of others – accumulate your wealth in heaven.

We are even encouraged to sell our excess possessions and give to the needy. This is in Luke 12:33, “Sell your possessions and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.” This is sell as needed, not sell and become socialists.

When you give, give with an attitude of secrecy. This is in Matthew 6:3-4, where it states, 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.” This is the opposite of giving for acknowledgment which is discussed in Matthew 6:2, “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 their reward.[see this in the story of the Widows mite in Mark 12:41-44]

There is a priority to meet the needs of your family and other believers first. This is commanded in 1 Timothy 5:8, where it states, But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Also, Galatians 6:10, encourages, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

Giving is even one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Although everyone should be giving, some are even gifted with the ability to give. This is in Romans 12:6-8, which states, “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who gives, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”

Biblical Financial Planning

The Bible explains how we are to provide for our needs. Proverbs 14:23 says, “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” Proverbs 21:20 states, “The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down.” – so save. Finally, Proverbs 27:23-24 advises that we plan: “Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations.”

So, God’s strategy is simple; work, save, and plan.

The Bible is sufficient with respect to general guidelines. Obviously, it can’t answer the pros and cons of mutual funds vs. ETFs. For that, you need outside direction.

Here are some general guidelines and reference sources:

The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel is certainly one of the best books on how to understand money. Here are some of the highlights:

  1. We confuse being wealthy with being rich. Rich is what you see – the car, house, and clothing. Wealth is what is left after buying a car, house, and clothing. We don’t see what’s in others’ bank accounts, yet that is the true value of financial well-being. The goal is to live below your means which also requires that you determine what is enough – contentment.
  2. Chance and luck play a bigger role in everyone’s financial lives than we give it credit.
  3. Money buys control over our time – i.e., freedom. For a believer, it buys to opportunity to help meet other’s needs.
  4. Prioritize saving or investing. Obviously, a Biblical concept, but to do so, you need to separate liquid and long-term investments. The longer your investments compound, the more they will grow, and the only way to mitigate not disrupting your investments is to have enough liquid savings to meet ongoing emergencies and uncertainties.
  5. Plan for things to go wrong, because they will and expect that future goals will also change.
  6. Don’t be put off by uncertainty, it’s the price of living and investing. Even when you fail, get back in the game.
  7. Know your financial condition (budget) and goals.

Housel’s personal financial plan is a fully paid mortgage with 20% of investments in cash and the remainder in index funds.

The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley and William Danko is an older book with much the same philosophy.

  1. Again, the difference between rich and wealthy is that wealth is what you accumulate.
  2. Live below your means.
  3. Prioritize financial independence over displaying social status.
  4. Develop your investment skills – not stock picking but rather realizing passive index funds win, cash is king, etc.
  5. Choose the right line of work – often self-employed professional or unexciting fields like paving contractors, accountants, or plumbing and home repair.
  6. Learn to be frugal and budget expenses – especially tax expenses. Delay gratification.
  7. On average, these people invest 20% or more of their realized household income.

The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins also adheres to many of the same concepts as the previous books but gives some very helpful and specific information on investment vehicles and preparing for some of the surprises that may arise down the line towards retirement (which few discuss.) This is an excellent and timely book to review.

Here are some recommended financial institutions:

Wealthfront is a Registered Investment Advisory (RIA), which is also known as a Robo-Advisor. They have a number of Nobel prize recipients who are founders and board directors and provide comprehensive risk-adjusted passive index portfolios that only charge 25 basis points (1/4 of 1%). They also offer an aggregator for all your other financial accounts and a free cash management program, which currently pays 5%. You can view their historical risk-adjusted returns here:

The difference between a Wealthfront and just picking one or two index funds is that Wealthfront does all the investing and provides a more diversified portfolio but with a separate management fee. The tradeoff is helpful for those who need or want the convenience of professionals to manage their investments.

Robinhood ( Believe it or not, Robinhood is an easy and inexpensive way to manage your investments. You do all the investing but without fees or red tape, as it’s readily available on your smartphone.

Fidelity Investments ( Fidelity is the one genuine financial institution that actually doesn’t charge any fees and provides totally free domestic wires without any other restrictions or hidden requirements.

Random thoughts

Where available, ETFs are preferable to Mutual funds in that they trade like stock (intra-day), have comparable or even lower fees, and can be margined. The concept is not to margin for purchase but to borrow against in case of emergency without disturbing the underlying investment.

ROTH IRAs and 401(k) are often overlooked, but although the contribution is taxed, the earnings and appreciation are tax-free forever. At 70 1/2, IRAs, 401(k)s, and 403(b)s have required minimum taxable distributions.

Married couples should consider a fresh start full disclosure discussion with an agreement on financial guidelines moving forward – what spending requires both to approve and what are the family’s financial goals and guidelines.

Children can be taught to delay gratification as this is one of the best indicators of future financial success. You can judge a child’s ability to delay gratification by observing how they handle Halloween candy. One suggestion is to set up a two-tier allowance system: for example, $1 that you can spend any time you want or $1.50 a week, but you can only spend .50 with the remaining saved for a short-term goal, for example, a Christmas or Birthday gift.



Thad Brown resides in Aledo, Texas, together with his high school sweetheart, whom he has been married to for over 53 years. They have 5 children, one of whom they lovingly adopted, and have the joy of being grandparents to 9 grandchildren. Thad was raised in Denver, Colorado, and during the Vietnam era, enlisted in the U.S. Navy. With the help of the GI Bill, he completed a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and Management, graduating Magna Cum Laude in one and a half years, and then went on to earn a Master’s degree in Tax Law from the University of Denver. Thad is a certified public accountant (CPA), certified financial planner (CFP), and licensed real estate broker. After gaining experience with one of the top eight global accounting firms, he established his own CPA firm, which he eventually sold before making a move to Southern California. There, he embarked on a career in the Registered Investor Advisory field. For over three decades, Thad served as the Chief Operating Officer and Managing Director of two RIA firms located in Pasadena and Santa Monica. Concurrently, he also held the position of Chief Financial Officer for a real estate investment trust listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Presently, Thad provides consulting services and authors a Substack platform where he fervently promotes and discusses Christianity. You can contact him at and read his Substack at

Print Friendly, PDF & Email