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Should I Tithe When I Have Debt?

When faced with financial difficulties, the question of whether or not to tithe or give often arises. And the reason is simple. There is a desire to use every last penny to help get themselves out of the situation. If you have or are facing financial challenges, you have probably considered not giving. But before you decide to abandon your giving, consider the following five points:

1. God tells us to give.

The Bible tells us to give and to do it joyfully. The concept of proportional giving, giving based on percentage of income rather than specific amount, is woven throughout the Bible. Personally, I think 10% of gross (before taxes) income is a great place to start and by no means a limit. Where should you give? Start with your local church.

2. Giving occurs first, not last.

Also woven throughout the Bible is the idea that giving takes place first, not last. Giving is not about providing the leftovers. Giving is a prioritized act that often requires sacrifice. Before bills? Yes. Before debt? Yes. Before savings? Yes. Understandably, this prioritized act can be a massive challenge for those in financial distress. And we will get to that in point five.

3. God does not include an exclusion clause.

When the Bible talks about giving, there is no “out.” There are no loopholes or exclusion clauses. There are no reasons provided for not giving. We give because He gave so generously to us. He gave us something priceless. He gave us something no dollar amount given could ever compare. He gave us Jesus.

4. We should not let one bad decision cause us to make another bad decision.

Often, we are the cause of our own financial hardship. We didn’t budget our money. We bought houses, cars, and clothes we could not afford. We took out too many loans. We built up balances on high interest rate credit cards. Poor financial decisions do not give us reason to make another bad decision—not giving like God tells us to give.

5. God delights in those who obey when obedience is not convenient.

In Mark 12:41-44 we see Jesus point out a poor widow who put two tiny coins into the temple treasury. In the midst of many rich people giving large amounts of money, He said she gave the most because she gave out of sacrifice. She gave when it was inconvenient. If anyone had a reason not to give, it was her. But she was obedient. And God saw it and delighted in it.

A joyful attitude toward giving does not negate the fact that real sacrifice is taking place. Joyful givers can have a lot, have a little, or be in the midst of financial turmoil. Whatever your circumstance may be, find joy in giving, not because it is easy, but because you trust God with everything, including your finances.


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