Sunday, July 8, 2007

Should you tithe when you're digging out from under debt?

And how much should you tithe? 10%? Less? Conventional wisdom would lead one to believe that tithing while trying to repay debt is counterproductive to the goal of being debt free. If you put the money you would normally tithe toward debt repayment, you'll be out of debt more quickly, right? Conventional wisdom, however, is not Godly wisdom. The Bible says "'My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,' says the Lord." (Isaiah 55:8) In Malachi 3:10 the Bible says, "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." Test me in this. That's a pretty strong statement. Test me in this. I've taken God up on that challenge many times. When my daughter was born, my husband made less than $20,000 a year, and I was a new stay at home mom. We still tithed. And we never went without anything we needed. Sure, we didn't have a plasma TV or a brand new car. But we had food, shelter, and clothing. And we appreciated it. So yes, I believe that Christians should continue to tithe when they're paying off debts. The Bible commands it, and I would never advise going against God. Beyond that, giving creates a mindset of appreciation. By giving away some of your money, even though things are tight, you become more aware of other people's needs. When trying to climb out of debt, it's all too easy to become completely focused on your own problems. By noticing the needs of other people, you become more thankful for what you have, even if it's not a lot. And God will bless you for continuing to tithe. Here's a true story from my life. When my daughter was 3 years old, I had a roll of film developed. The pictures weren't very good, and I realized my old cheapo camera was dying. I was sad, because we didn't have the money for a good camera, and I wanted to be able to take good pictures of my daughter's growing up years. I remember standing in my kitchen, thinking to myself that I could buy a great camera for $150. I quickly put the thought aside, because there was no way we could afford to spend that much money. I didn't tell anyone about my thoughts. Not even my husband. I didn't want to discourage him. Three days later I went out to check the mail. There was a letter from the church. Curious, I opened the letter. It was a check guessed it.....$150. We got a new camera and did some much needed work on our old car. God is concerned about the extras in your life. He will bless you richly. Sometimes the blessings will come in life lessons: perseverance, trust in Him, faith. Those are the lessons that come only from hard times, and they're necessary. Other times he will bless you with seemingly frivolous things like unexpected money for a new camera. This is when we learn that God cares about the details in life. If we rely completely on ourselves to provide for ourselves, how will we ever learn to trust God for our provision? I urge you Christians to tithe and then trust God for your provision.

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