Being in debt and Tithing
I can’t even count how many readers have emailed me asking me about whether or not they should tithe while getting out of debt. Tithing is a fiercely debated topic (read comments on the post I wrote called Tithing in the New Testament for proof) as you would expect with anything that seems to not make sense. I still wonder in amazement at how so many of God’s principles are absolute foolishness to non-christians… I mean who in their right mind would give expecting to have more?
That said, I will use this post as a summary of how I commonly answer the “tithing in times of challenge” questions. I will lay out my thoughts about the subject and what I have found from the Bible about it. The Bible says that we all know in part, so I don’t claim to know the answer for everyone, but this is what I have landed on. If this is a question you are asking for yourself, I suggest you pray and dig into your Bible!
My tithing story
I get a kick out of stepping out in faith. I absolutely love it. When I was 20 I packed up everything I owned an moved to Florida without a job lined up because I felt God calling me. I still remember the uncertainty of my ability to hear from God coupled with the thrill of the faith-walk. Turns out I was hearing from God and that season was a huge turning point in my life. I would have missed out on so much and I would be nowhere near where I am today spiritually had I not stepped out in faith and obeyed that leading.
The reason I bring this up is because we (Linda and I) have taken the same leaps of faith with tithing. As I detailed in a post called my tithing experience, I explained that due to an error on my part I found out that even though we thought we were tithing, we were actually about 1-2% short. With the same anticipation and feelings of uncertainty, we decided to fix the problem and increase our giving up to 10% – even though this would take our expenses higher than our income. Within a DAY we saw God kick our income up over our expenses. I am convinced he was trying to teach us a valuable lesson about His faithfulness – I never want to forget it.
While we have been working to pay off a huge chunk of debt over the last few years, we have been faithfully tithing. It would be nice if I could say that I started tithing and the next week a check came in the mail to pay off all of our debt, but God doesn’t seem to do it that way very often. He seems to be interested in changing us than just making the problem disappear. Honestly, what good would it do if He made all our debt disappear without us learning the discipline of handling our finances properly? If we created all the debt by over-spending, then we would just end up in the same place again.
While I haven’t received a $100,000 check in the mail yet, we have seen numerous large chunks of our debt paid off over the last few years – I thank God for them and am convinced that He was involved in bringing them to us.
So, should you tithe while getting out of debt?
Simply put, I think yes. I would be willing to bet that if we had spent the last 3 years paying our tithe money to our debts, we would not be near as far along as we are.