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Is it OK to Give on a Credit Card? No!

Posted by Matt Postiff May 10, 2012 on Matt Postiff's Blog under Church 

Sometimes when I run into a topic for the third time or so, I have to write a post to "get it out of my system." Here's one such post.

Should a church member give on a credit card? The Wall Street Journal Sunday edition (May 6, 2012) has a story entitled "Trust in the Lord...But Check Out the Church" by Veronica Dagher. A portion of it was: "While the couple was very committed to their church, they were also putting themselves in financial jeopardy by racking up debt by tithing on a credit card they weren't able to pay in full every month..."

I would advise this couple to immediately stop giving on their credit card. In fact, I would discourage anyone from giving to their church on a credit card. I might be persuaded about giving on a debit card because that draws from money the couple already has, but the transaction fees are an unnecessary waste of donated funds for the minor increase in convenience. A better method is to give using personal check, cash, or an automated bill-pay through your bank.

Some object to credit-card giving because it feels impersonal or the church gets charged a transaction fee (see Is it OK to Tithe With a Credit Card?). I object because giving on borrowed funds is not Biblical.

The principle that underlies my advice is this: "For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have" (2 Corinthians 8:12 NKJ).

In other words, giving should come from money that you already have. God happily accepts giving of that sort. Verse 11 reiterates the encouragement to give according to the means that you have. Giving should not come from prospective money that you have not yet earned, because you have no way of knowing if you will actually earn it. James 4:15 reminds us that the future is in the hands of God and we have to conduct ourselves accordingly.

This is the main reason that I do not support the "faith-promise" method of missionary support. I suppose the "if" clause that is inherent in the faith-promise is the escape hatch, but we simply do not know what we will earn. Instead, we encourage people to work, earn a living, and from what they take in each pay period, carefully think through what they should give. Planning ahead is fine, as is planning a certain percentage of your income to give.

One more thing, while I'm on the subject of giving. The tithe may be an appropriate level of giving. However, the tithe is not mandated for the New Testament Christian. For those that are destitute, 10% may be too much to give if they cannot meet their basic needs. That doesn't let anyone off the hook, because just about everyone can give something (maybe money, maybe time, or something else). But for those who are wealthy, giving a tithe would be sinfully stingy.

Whether a lot or a little, just don't give on a credit card!

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