John D. Rockefeller on tithing

“I never would have been able to tithe the first million dollars I ever made if I had not tithed my first salary, which was $1.50 per week.”

— John D. Rockefeller

Regardless of where you stand on the issue of tithing, the Bible is clear as day about giving. And I think Mr. Rockefeller was onto something with this quote.

Luke 16:11 says, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.

I’ve noticed that God seems to take me along a progression. After I pass one test I can move on to the next level – but not until I pass the test. I get encouraged seeing that one of the wealthiest people in the world understood the importance of passing the small tests in order to get to the bigger ones.

From what I know of Rockefeller, he wasn’t a perfect role-model (are any of us?) but there is a lesson here that I think we all can learn from.


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  1. Don

    I read the biography of John D. and was very impressed with his work ethic, dedication to his church, and vision in building one of the greatest enterprises in history. He was hated by the capitalism-is-evil crowd of the day but what he built and the foundations he created are of lasting benefit to our communities and nation.

    Yes, he played hard ball in business but business was brutal during the 19th century and (and there were no TARP funds!)

    Thanks for the article.

  2. Matt Jabs

    Giving is a something to be cherished… few things bring me more joy than being able to give to those who have need!

    One of our biggest goals in reaching debt freedom is to be able to give more generously rather than paying interest on debt.

    Godspeed Bob.

  3. Naticus

    John Rockfeller seems like a very interesting person and someone I would love to meet! Just because I am a teen people think that I cannot handle money and I would love to prove them wrong. Anyways I really like the article.

  4. Ken

    A great practice from a well respected man. God deserves what we give. He’s given me so much more..starting with grace.

  5. bondChristian

    It’s the small things in the beginning that are most difficult (so maybe they’re not the small things). Once those are in place, the habit of giving can extend to the “big things.” Jumping right into the big things sounds impossible, and they probably would be if it weren’t for the small steps that led up to it.

    -Marshall Jones Jr.

  6. [email protected]

    “From what I know of Rockefeller, he wasn’t a perfect role-model (are any of us?) but there is a lesson here that I think we all can learn from.”

    Fortunately for all of us, I think God looks past our imperfections and blesses the faith we do demonstrate. Somehow our imperfections only magnify our faith efforts. We often think that our “little efforts” don’t matter, but that’s only when we think within the human realm.

    ‘If you had faith no bigger even than a mustard-seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and replanted in the sea”, and it would at once obey you. ‘–Luke 17:6

  7. Michael Holmes

    I agree with Don, history has done Rockefeller dirty. He was a business man but a godly man and I do respect most of his business acumen. I say “most” because like Andrew Carnegie he also had some questionable ones.

    And I agree with the practice of the tithe…100%!

  8. Joseph

    speaking on personal experience, i think it was easy to tithe when i made $100.00 a week and had no debt, but when i started earning more and started getting into debt, i noticed i was slacking on this one. I had to make a deliberate effort and hanceforth tithe appears on our household budget as a an expense. We do not negotiate rent or mortgage payment – why should we negotiate about tithing?


  9. Pedro

    As the bible says, if you are faithful over a few things, He’ll make you ruler of many. That is a perfect example. A man once told me that people say that, they’ll will tithe or give when they become a millionaire, but in actuality they won’t. If a person can’t give with $100 a week, they surely will not give with $1m.

  10. Sharron

    You’re forgetting some steps to success with tithing. First, the bible says that faith in God through His Son Jesus is a prerequiset to spiritual understanding. God is not a type of Santa Clause. He might make a list and check it twice to see who’s been naughty or nice. But He does not hand out gifts at Christmas. It is required to be “right” with God. Right meaning having a relationship with Him. “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son. That whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Son of God shall inherit eternal life. Becomming God’s child is the prerequiset to receiving anything from Him.
    “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”
    John 10:26-28

  11. RAMONA

    I just recently started tithing 10% of my personal income.
    My husband and I each own a small business and with the current economy state in the US, I feel lucky some days just to not sink deeper in debt which is where I believe God has blessed my faith in Him by tithing!

  12. Ben

    I agree, and great article.

    John D Rockefeller, while not perfect, was an extraordinary Christian and entrepreneur. I have read his biography “Titan” 2 times. He had a very interesting life.

    He was very disciplined in business and faith, and this just goes to show that Christians can do huge things in life.

  13. Bryant

    This was an impressive article. Keep up the good work!