Is debt reduction a greater priority than tithing? P. 2

By Stew

In my previous article on this subject, we looked at several reasons why the believer should prioritize tithing before debt reduction. Note that I am not saying that we should neglect our debts – if we promise to repay something, we must repay it. Matthew 5:33 tells us that when we make a promise, that promise should be as good as done. However, if you must choose between paying extra on a debt or giving your tithe, the tithe comes first.

Here are two more reasons why the believer’s commitment to tithing should be greater than his commitment to debt reduction:

God has promised to meet our needs.

The psalmist wrote in Psalm 37:25:

I have been young and now I am old, Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken Or his descendants begging bread.

Our circumstance might be tough, our debt might be overwhelming, but if we are seeking to walk in God’s ways with out whole heart, He has promised to meet our needs. But we must obey Him first. If you are lazy or neglecting your family or if you refuse to be a part of a gospel-preaching church, you cannot claim this promise.

Writing a check for ten percent to your church every month is a huge step of faith, but God is faithful to supply the needs of His children. In Philippians 4:19, we find that God “will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” It is important to note the context of this promise: the supplying of needs was a promise made to the true Christians at Philippi who had already taken the step of faith to give money to the Apostle Paul’s ministry. God knows our needs better than we do and He will meet them in His time and in His way. Withholding the tithe because of debt is a demonstration of a lack of faith in God’s promise.

The tithe comes with a blessing.

God has your debt under control, He knows your needs, He can meet your needs, He owns all, and He has promised to bless those who give Him first priority. One of the most beautiful pictures of God’s love for his children is found in Luke 11:9-13:

So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”

God loves his children and if you are a child of His, God knows about your debt. He knows about all of your financial and physical needs and He wants to bless you! He wants to give you something good . . . but you need to trust Him first, you need to make certain that you are one of His children. In essence, God has said, “Give to Me what I am owed and I will take care of the rest.” To withhold our tithe because of our debt shows a lack of trust in God. He does not need our tithe in order to take care of our debt.

Think about how simple this is, we do not have to figure everything out! We only need to believe His Word and act on that Word.

Conclusion: If you really believe that God is God, that He controls all things, then this decision should be a “no-brainer.” Why would we not make every attempt to do things His way? Why would we not want to be as close to the Source of life as possible? It is almost ludicrous to say on one hand: “God you are sovereign and I trust you with my eternal soul”, but on the other hand you say, “God, I am going to hang on to my tithe because I think that my debt is stronger than You.” If you are a true child of God, you will want to give Him the firstfruits of all your “increase” as the Bible says. No amount of debt or expenses will be able to keep you from obeying Him.

7 Responses (including trackbacks) to “Is debt reduction a greater priority than tithing? P. 2”

  1. Rene Says:

    Thanks for the encouragement. We’ve been tithing for years, but have fallen into temptation to hold back a month or so, more than once, for a vacation or Christmas cash. It’s NOT worth it! You’re telling God to hold back His blessing on you and things “could” happen. You get sick, when you haven’t been sick in years. The car just starts acting up. The kids are getting a little sassy. These are tons of little things we take for granted that God holds back like the Red Sea, so we can walk safely through life.

    It’s like taking care of my young fruit trees. If I water and feed them, they grow strong and have many fruit. But if I neglect them for a month, it could kill them and I would have to start over from the beginning with a tiny tree and little or no fuit to show for.

    Lastly, like our pastor says: “if you hold tight to what’s in your hands, God will hold tight to what’s in His hands. If you release to Him what’s in your hands, He will release to you what’s in His hands! Don’t you think He holds a lot more in His hands?!”

    Thanks for your blogs. I seem to get them when a moment of weakness is creeping up.

    God bless.

  2. Jackson Says:

    Greetings Brother!

    I agree but disagree. I really don’t want to come off as contentious about the matter though, so please read my words in the graceful tone that I’m hoping to conveying them in.

    You are absolutely right that the believer ought not to forsake or cut short his or her giving due to debt load. Without question, failing to practice the principle of giving as a Christian would be as fundamental a shortcoming as forsaking the reading of God’s word or forsaking the practice of praying.

    The problem I have though is a doctrinal disagreement about tithing itself, coupled with a lack of biblical counsel about the nature of debt itself (though I’m sure you’ve blogged on the matter in different posts).

    “The rich rule over the poor,
    and the borrower is slave to the lender.”

    From my understanding, Proverbs 22:7 is an indirect denouncement of taking on debt in the first place. (Though for most, it may be a necessary evil in the home buying realm, but I don’t believe that Christians need to follow the trend of the world [financed cars, maxed out CC’s] and ignore God’s warning of the restricted freedom that comes along with debt.)

    I agree that people should not short on their giving in order to reduce debt faster, but I disagree in regards to what it would mean to “short on giving” .. meaning I don’t believe that it is solid biblical interpretation to teach that anything less than 10% is “shorting” God. I will briefly explain why I don’t think Christians ought to adhere to a tithing system of giving.

    2 Cor. 9:6-11 (with emphasis)

    Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. **EACH OF YOU SHOULD GIVE WHAT YOU HAVE DECIDED IN YOUR HEART TO GIVE, NOT RELUCTANTLY OR UNDER COMPULSION** for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:

    “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
    their righteousness endures forever.”

    Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

    This passage in the New Testament (generally the NT is held to be more directly applicable to Christians than the OT) contradicts the teaching of Christian tithing because it explicitly says “not under compulsion”. If giving 10% of your earnings is compulsory in this day and age, then this passage should not be here because it contradicts the teaching of tithing as the current law of God for his people.

    But instead the passage simply says “the more you sow, the more you reap” and vice versa.

    With this in mind, we could come to conclusion like the example I will draw below:

    A believer is taught in church to faithfully give 10%, and obeys this teaching but struggles to pay his bills because of a heavy debt load. This causes him to have no money to put aside for emergencies, which when they come are always a major hardship for him to deal with, often forcing him to take on more debt and perpetuate the problem.

    This believer later learns that debt is disapproved of in the Bible and that tithing is not a current requirement of God. So this believer “decides in his heart” to “cheerfully” give about 3% instead of “reluctantly” give 10% in order to get his financial house in order. This believer has figured out that if he can pay off his debts faster, then less money will be given to the banks in interest and he can get on a firm financial footing much sooner that just paying normal payments or minimums.

    This believer has a sincere heart to give though and wants to do this so that in the future he will be in a position to give MORE than 10% to the things of God, and be able to do so without struggling to his pay bills. He considers his options and determines that he would be in a better position to be a blessing with his giving in the long term if he just lightened his load for a short period of time right now.

    Of course this illustration is not a form of advice for every believer with debt, because everyone has a different financial situation. My point of this is to show the importance of wisdom and having a heart to give instead of blind adherence to an incorrect doctrine.

    It is very hard to believe that this sort of situation is uncommon among believers? Would you have trouble approving of a decision like this as godly and spiritually motivated? Would God label such a believer as disobedient and lacking in trust? Could this course of action only be based in a distrust of God’s promise to provide (so long as he faithfully tithes) and not at all be a wise decision?

    Teaching the tithe is a handy trick that is used by some churches to guilt people in keeping their payroll stable. Honest churches teach it too, but inherently, it can cause a conflict of interest among the leadership. I don’t believe it is healthy or accurate doctrine for the church.

    If you’re interested in “taking the red pill” on this subject, you can find more info here:

    Final point, I don’t believe that it is appropriate to label it as distrust in God or disobedience for the Christian to not give 10%. Also, I don’t think that every believer can confirm that God will sort out every person’s financial problems primarily by responding to their giving of 10% as opposed to the believer first and foremost using wisdom in regards to his or her finances and giving.

    Sorry to write such a long comment!

    I enjoy your blog! Thanks for putting in the time to provide a godly resource about finances for Christians.

    In Christ, :)

  3. Jon Says:

    It’s an interesting debate. In the past I would have said that tithing takes priority. However I truly believe that tithing is about giving from your own funds and there if you have substantial debt and continue to tithe then you are doing so out of someone else’s money. In that instance I would advise paying off debt first

  4. Kent @ JesusMoney Says:

    This is all very helpful to me, all angles, since I counsel so many people in varying levels of deep debt. Great reminder on the blessing aspect as well as the heart (but I can be self deceiving), I think God wants us to be generous and give freely like he does, and wrestling with these things is part of the discipling process for us.

  5. Omoluyi Aimienwanu Says:

    Jesus clearly made mention of tithe in Matt 23: 23

    “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”

    The Pharisees were tithing according to God’s word, and he said they should have also exercised other matters of the law while tithing as well. I suspect the Jews (Jesus included) did not even consider discussing whether they should tithe or not a matter of debate. It was a minimum standard to support the synagogue and levites (priest tribe) before other types of offerings like peace offering, harvest, firstfruits etc.

    We now pay tithe and give offering towards the work of Jesus (who is in the order of Melchizedek the High Priest of God, who Abraham our spiritual father as christians, paid tithe to), mostly done through our local church. Read Gen 14:18 – 20 and Hebrews chapters 5, 6 and 7.

    These after during and after the coming of Christ.

  6. Omoluyi Aimienwanu Says:

    Correction: These scriptures show before, during and after the coming of Christ.

  7. YoungLimey Says:

    10% is the Old Testament Law. 100% is what Jesus teaches in the New Testament. For those who judge others on the Old Testament, first get that plank out of your own eye, sell all of your possessions, and give 100%.