How much must Christians (I hate to say “are Christians obligated”) to give to the poor? After all, all Christians now have the ability, given modern convenience, to give to so many more ogranizations that help the poor and otherwise unfortunate. Also, there are so many needy organizations and individuals out there to which/whom we can give.
Are Christians obligated to give at least 10%? Around that much? Only what their heart leads them to give? (After all, I think I once read Paul saying that even giving itself can be a special “gift” or “calling” from God.)
Not only how much, but I might also add, “to whom”? Are we only obligated to give to the poor in our immediate area or are we obligated to give outside of our immediate area and, if the latter is the case, how much are we to give and how far are we to extend our influence?
I’ve hear doms respond to the “how much are we supposed to give” question with “what you can afford”, but, to me, this seems like a very vague answer. Does “however much you can afford” mean “as much as you can afford”, as in, we are to give the maximum amount we can afford to the poor and only live with bare necessities? Or, does it mean, “as much as is comfortable to you without it harming you/your lifestyle too much”? Or, rather, does this only mean that we are NOT obligated to give BEYOND what we can afford, again, whatever that means?
And, what of the extremely wealthy? I am told, having posted another thread asking whether extreme pleasure/wealth and even luxury was permitted as long as such is held in proper Christian perspective, that such was permissible for the Christian. IF we take someone who enjoys quite a bit of luxury/wealth/pleasure, but enjoys it with genuine thanksgiving for what he has, how much is that person required to give to the poor? Must he downgrade even this extreme lifestyle, though he enjoys it with sincere thanksgiving in order to give more to the poor? If so, how much must he downgrade it/
As I understand it, this is indeed an issue that theologians have grappled with for some time, so I am interested to know what folks think about it. Also, whether there is any official Church stance on it.