Question: What is a “reverse tithe”?
Rick Warren: The Bible talks about giving 10% of your income to charity, to the Lord’s work. And so when Kay and I got married 32 years ago, we started giving 10% of everything we made to help other people. And at the end of the first year we raised it to 11%. At the end of our second year of marriage we raised it to 12%. In the third year we raised it to 13%. Now why were we doing this? We just wanted to learn to be generous. In fact, we didn’t tell anybody about it for over 30 years. Sometimes when we’d have a very successful year, we’d raise our giving three, four, five percent. And so we’re not at the point after 32 years of marriage, we give away 90% and we live on 10%. That has been a lot of fun.
Now honestly the impact of what to do with the money was the easy thing – just give it away. The hard thing is what do I do with the fame? What did I do with the notoriety? Not the affluence, but the influence. And I was reading through the Psalms one day and I came upon Solomon’s Psalm – Psalm 72 – which is Solomon’s prayer for more influence. Now it’s an interesting prayer, and when you read it, it sounds like the most self-committed prayer you can imagine.
Solomon was the wisest man of the world, the wealthiest man in the world. He was the King of Israel in Israel’s apex in history. The divided kingdom; it was the kingdom that was the most expanded ever in history. And in that prayer Solomon says, “God, I want you to make me rich.” Not rich, he said, “I want you to make me famous. I want you to give me power. I want you to bless me. I want you to spread the fame of my name to many countries.”
And it sounds very self-centered until you read why. And in that he says, “So that the king may support the widow and orphan; defend the defenseless; speak up for the oppressed; care for the immigrant, the foreigner.”
Today, he talked about the prisoner, the aged, the mentally handicapped. And basically what Solomon was saying there was that the purpose of influence is to speak up for those who have no influence. That was a very strong impact on my life, and I’ve committed my life to doing that very thing – using whatever affluence or whatever influence I have to make a difference and speak up for those who have no influence.
Recorded on: December 11, 2007