Warning: if you run for president, people will know how much you give to church!

I feel sorry for Texas Gov. Rick Perry. He is flirting with a bid to run for president, and, predictably, the press has gotten hold of his tax returns. His rate of charitable giving—which includes church-giving—is one-half of one percent over ten years. That’s pretty anemic, especially for someone who has been outspoken about his Christian faith.

First, a word of grace. While I don’t like hypocrisy, I like sanctimoniousness even less. Often, we direct phony outrage at public citizens for sins that private citizens commit with impunity. The truth is that there are plenty of freeloaders—or close to it—filling our church pews all over the country. And Rick Perry, we now know, is one of them. But keep in mind that the average rate of church-giving among churchgoers is around two percent of income.

I don’t like this at all. I tithe, which means I give 10 percent of my income to church. I tell prospective church members that the church wants and expects its members to tithe—or, should that prove too difficult right now, to take a step of faith in the direction of a tithe. And to have a plan for getting there. As I’ve said in plenty of sermons, we don’t tithe because God needs the money; we tithe because we need to give.

When you think about it, giving money is perhaps the most tangible expression of faith: Will I trust God enough to take care of me if I sacrifice this 10 percent of my income? Or was Jesus wrong when he asked us to consider the lilies and to seek first God’s kingdom? I don’t understand how most Christians in America have so easily divorced their financial giving from the strength or sincerity of their faith. Do they not think that one is strongly related to the other?

So, if you are a Christian, don’t risk embarrassing yourself. You might want to run for office some day. Be on the safe side: tithe.

3 thoughts on “Warning: if you run for president, people will know how much you give to church!”

  1. Good post, Brent. While I think Rick Perry says some good stuff, it still helps with credibility to “put your money where your mouth is.” Especially when your “mouth” is with the Kingdom of God. “Where your money is, there will your heart be also.” (I think that is how that reads.)

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