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June 11, 2006


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Good advice. You can't out give God and he will always provide.

Money may be important,but many other things are more important.

"Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he
who loves another has fulfilled the law" (Romans 13:8).

Psalm 37:21 states very clearly:
"The wicked borrows and does not repay, But the righteous shows mercy and gives."

Pay off the debt...

I don't agree. You pay off the obligations you've made for yourself first. Jesus made this clear: even if your obligation is just a social offense (not a legal debt), you don't make your sacrifice to God until you've cleared up your obligation to your brother. (I don't remember the reference for this.)

Don't forget God, though -- when you come out of the hard times, give sacrificially.


Twenty years ago at the age of thirty when I outgrew Christianity and found my own truth, my life improved enormously and wealth and well-being hasn't stopped pouring in since.

You gave the wrong advice. There are a few good aspects of religion, but strict adherence to what the documents say is not one of them. There is nothing holy about Proverbs or Malachai, some guy wrote them. That guy almost certainly had the intent of making sure the church was capable of sustainig itself, rather than some actual belief that the tithe was sacroscant.

Second, "God" can't create your salvation for you. You have to do it, even if he gives you the ability or whatever it is you think he would give you to do it. In this case, the reader knows that the answer is to pay off his debt. If you want to say that was divinely inspired or whatever, fine, but he has his answer.

PF Blogger --

So I'm assuming your interpretation of Romans 13:8 means that the Bible says no one should ever borrow under any circumstance -- is that correct?

Anon --

This advice is based on the teachings of Christianity and the rest of us are discussing if it's the right advice based on what the Scriptures say. If you throw them all out, then you're in another conversation, and there's no way we can discuss it since we come from radically different worldviews.

However, if you want to discuss religion versus non-religion, that's a topic you're commenting on. I'm sure there's a blog that discusses those issues -- it's just not this one. ;-)

Billy --

I think you're referring to Matt. 5:23-24. It reads:

"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the alter and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the alter and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift."

It's certainly an interesting couple of verses to quote to cover this issue. I can only see a relation if your r-e-a-l-l-y s-t-r-e-t-c-h the meaning of these verses. Maybe I have the wrong ones?

I agree with you. If you pay your tithes first, God will surely make a way for you to pay your debts. I believe it to be a true act of faith when you let that money go - knowing that it will come back to you ten-fold. It's worked for me and I am certainly a witness to it.

OK, maybe this is a silly question. But has anyone done any actual tracking of the financial success of tithing vs. non tithing as a control group? Long-term analysis of impact? That's a pretty big responsibility to tell someone who is living month to month to dig deeper, and I know you don't do it lightly. But, I guess it's all about taking things on faith. Personally, I'd rather see data when it comes to getting out of debt. I'm not a believer of western religion, but I thought the concept of god helping those who helped themselves (getting out of debt, then tithing) was feasible. What about donating time rather than money? This person probably makes an hourly wage. They could figure out how much the tithe equates to in hours and donate that to their church or community group. Why does it have to be money?

Another option to consider would be to volunteer a hour or two a week at your church, homeless shelter, soul kitchen, etc. rather than tithe while you pay off your debt. Time spent doing the Lords work is much more valuable than $50.

My own research (reading books, talking to people) over the years suggests that tithing works. It works for people of all faiths, or those who are atheists.

The spirit of the tithe is to give the money simply to give, not one out of obligation or guilt. That is not God's desire.

That means that, yes, you can volunteer. When I was down and out, I went and volunteered at a "soul kitchen" (I like that term :) and manifested several cooking jobs. (You manifest what you give.)

You can also give money to organizations that are important to you, aside from churches. But if you are religious, then you should seriously consider tithing to your church.

If you are so inclined, Minister Catherine Ponder (Unity Church) wrote some beautiful books on prosperity, wealth, and tithing.

She mentions in one book that some cultures actually make poor people tithe an extra 10%. (10% seems to be a magic number.)

The idea of tithing, in my interpretation, is both a means of sharing your wealth as well as giving yourself a positive feeling of having given. If you are struggling (like I was the past 4 years), try to find something that you can give of yourself, be it volunteer time or advice. But try at all costs to tithe actual money, no matter how little.

Laine --

My only data is my own, personal experience. I started tithing early after grad school (when I still had a car loan, a mortgage, and school loan debt). But instead of making even higher, extra payments on these, I tithed. Since then, I have found what the Bible promises to be true -- that is you give to God, He blesses you even more abundantly (see the verses referenced above for specific commands/promises).

That's why I recommended what I did -- 1) the Bible says to do it and 2) it worked for me.

I get giving back to the community. I do it a minimum of 10 hours a month. i don't get why it has to be money though or why money might be considered higher than time. I make good money. My time is extremely limited. Therefore, by giving time, I actually give a much more valuable asset than my money. I'm not trying to make a religious debate out of this, but I do like "getting" why people do what they do.


I don't think that Romans is saying not to borrow money, rather it is more interested in you paying what you owe back.

As to the rest of the argument for or against tithing, if it makes you happy, by all means do it. I still do and always will take exception to the idea of the church (any church) being a proxy for god.

Personally I am not religious at all, and do not tithe (except to the Federal government, which appears to be a religious organization these days...) Despite my heathen behavior I would consider my life to have been 'blessed' as much (or more so) as anyone else. I think your life is what *you* make of it.

FMF, Jesus was saying that obligations (even simple ones like apologies) take priority over sacrifices (which were commanded by the Law). How much more do strong obligations (like debt repayment) take priority over giving to non-temple causes (which are not part of the Law)! Think of Christ's words on an admittedly different topic: "the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath."

I admit that we have no authority to rob God, but neither does our obligation to God give us license to not pay obligations we make to other people. God can get along without out help :-), while we scrape together the means to meet our obligations. Once we meet our own obligations, I believe that we must pay the obligations we owe to God (using Christ's words there).


Billy --

Here's my bottom line:

Who do you honor with your wealth first -- God or man? (Prov. 3:9-10)

Here's how I see it: If you honor God, He promises to bless you financially so you can pay off all your debts. If you rob God, you're left on your own. (In fact, you're under a curse -- Mal. 3:8-9).

Given this, the choice seems simple enough to me.

One further point: this whole discussion wouldn't really be an issue if more Christians simply applied what the Bible advises on debt (to be wary of it) to their lives. They wouldn't have to choose between either one because they would have little to no debt and be able to give generously.

You're right that if we were obedient to God's command we wouldn't have to choose between breaking a promise to pay a person or breaking an obligation to give to God.

And you're right that you honor God with your increase first, and that if you don't, you're robbing God and are under a curse.

So obviously, not tithing is an evil. But not paying a debt is also an evil, and not all evils are equal. The question is, is not tithing a greater evil than not paying a debt? (Also, the question could be phrased as "is tithing LATER a greater evil than paying a debt LATER", under the assumption that you'll pay your back-tithes as soon as you've met your obligation.)

We know for certain that there are more evil things you can do with money than fail to tithe. For example, "if anyone fails to support his own, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."

So your argument above claims too much -- failing to tithe is NOT an ultimate evil, and in fact using your money to provide for people is not worse than using it to provide for God.

So assuming that I've shown that your argument doesn't extend to cover ALL cases of failing to tithe, can you show that it DOES cover the case of failing to tithe in order to pay back a debt? Would God consider it more or less of a dishonor to tithe but fail to meet an obligatory payment?

If the person to whom you owed money asked you why you didn't pay, would it be honoring God to tell your creditor the truth?

Mind you, if Christ's command in Matt 5 is actually applicable (which seems to me to be the case), it's also commanding that after you've taken care of the obligation to the person, you must come back and pay God what you were going to give Him. So no getting out of tithes.

William --

So how do you explain Prov. 3:9-10?

It says to pay God first -- before taxes, before debt, before you buy food, before anything.

Prov 3:9-10 is neither a command nor a prophecy; it's a proverb. (It's not even a promise; many people give God more than the minimal 10% required by the word "tithe" and don't see their barns fill in any literal sense.)

You can't simply ignore all of the actual unconditional commands listed in the Bible in favor of a proverb that promises wealth. We are commanded to stay out of debt, to be free of bondage, and even to not financially enslave others. Not paying off the people we owe would be disobedience to those explicit commands -- and they're commands, not conditionals.

After we've obeyed the commands set forth by God, including the ones that require a good relationship with others BEFORE you sacrifice (the sacrifice was, of course, one of the most personally important commands in the OT -- fail to do it, and you could get divorced from society, no longer one of the Chosen), THEN you can think about reading the conditional commands that tell you how to become wealthy.

As always, you're making me think hard. Thank you!


Billy --

I think we're just going to have to agree to disagree. For me and my house, we start by honoring the Lord with our wealth before anything else gets paid. We then trust in His promises found thoughout the Bible (noted above) to bless us accordingly.

Now, we don't have debt, but if we did, we'd still give to God first. He's always been faithful to bless us in many more ways than we could ever imagine (financially and otherwise) and we wouldn't do anything differently.

So here is my question I have been asking God... I felt Him calling us to tithe a couple of years ago, and we did so faithfully. Then after one year of tithing my husband lost his job(for the 2nd time in 4 years), and we had no employment for 6 1/2 months. Then when he did get a job, it paid less than we needed to live on, we liquidated our 401K to pay off the debt we accrued during that 6 months. We have 5 small children, and just enough each month to make ends meet, with out going back into debt. I so desire to tithe again, but our testimony about God's provision after sacrifically giving to Him is different than everyone else's, we actually ended up in a worse situation financially. We live in a very expensive economy, and my husband has continued to look for other better paying jobs, but this is the job God provided us with. So what do we do now?

I know I came to this late but the proverbs quote

Who do you honor with your wealth first -- God or man? (Prov. 3:9-10)

that you mentioned talked about wealth. But how is it wealth when it is already owed? If you have an obligation to repay someone, that money is already spoken for, and isn't really wealth. When you spend it, knowing it is already owed somewhere, it's like stealing. It would be like owning a business, taking the money from payroll, and justifying it by saying that it's not the employees' money until they get their hands on the check.

But if you have money past your debts, that is your wealth, and you can give from it. The bible also says to give to God what is God's and to Caesar what is to Caesar. The debts are under the rule of Caesar, under the rule of law. But from God we get our life and our talents, and to state that giving $$ is more meaningful to His work than our time or abilities disrespects both those gifts and God as well.

I feel that money as a tithe is really secondary to time. Anyone can give money. It takes very little effort at all for most people. But the things that money buys come solely from labor and intellect, which are the products of time and effort. People are less likely to give this and to really invest themselves, which is really unfortunate. The bible doesn't tell us how much $$ Jesus gave the temple. But it does tell us of the people he met with and the things he said. We are told specifically and repeatedly of the gift of his time and of himself; manifestly far more powerful than 10% of what he earned being a carpenter (probably a good job back then.)

Another quote that can be interesting to look at is

“Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?” (Romans 11:35)"

I think this illustrates the fallacy of the way we say if we give to God then God will give to us. To me, that mimics a fee-for-service relationship that implicitly puts God under our command for what we've done. And to expect that our reward for this will be an increase in material wealth focuses us on the worldly, because what do we do with more money? It doesn't bring us closer to the Lord, which is at the core of our experience as Christians.

We are explicitly told that God's kingdom is not of this world, so to give to God's causes to reap rewards in this world is a diversion from the spiritual, which is where our devotion and purpose are meant to be. Is it not possible that our reward will be the gifts of the spirit: that by using the gifts of our time and effort we may be recompensed by the gifts of a greater compassion and understanding of another person's situation, and through that our own humanity and relationship with God? Or maybe we don't even give that and give to God for the greater glory of Him alone, without expectation of reward?

(sorry for the long post.) :(

As another poster said, the only "data" I have on the subject is my own life. When I started tithing, I made a grand total of $700 a month. this was about 11 years ago. My rent consumed 1/2 of my income and I also had credit card debt. I did not own a car and it took me 1.5 hours on 3 different buses to get to work every day (plus I had to walk 1/2 mile on a road with no sidewalk). The gal who gave me a ride to church every Sunday brought the subject up and told me I should just give something out of every paycheck. At first, I didn't even do the full 10% but worked my way up after I saw that I was still surviving. I just started with 5%. In just a few months time, I got a 2nd part time job making $10 an hour without much effort. At the time that was a lot of money to me. My parents also had been holding on to some money for me from a deceased relative. They gave me the money to buy a car. All of this happened within a few months time. Even though I am currently not attending any church, I still tithe to my favorite charitable/non-profit organizations. 11 years later, at the age of 36, I have a net worth that is 3x my income (and I make more than $10 an hour these days). Also, I did want to add the importance of volunteering. I found out about that $10 an hour job because I was going to a training session to be a literacy tutor. Volunteering is also a good thing!!

I am married with 3 children. My husband and I found ourselves not paying tithes because when it boiled down to it we would have been short for rent, car payment, car insurance, and more. We are believers of Christ and we know what the Bibles says. Things just seem so hard, and so much guilt has fallen upon us.We asked the Lord to forgive us for being disobedient. Recently we received a sum of money and decided to pay back what we owe. The question is can we repay God?

The issue isn't rlly about God needing your money, He wants your obedience, and for you to put Him first in your life. I'd suggest you start paying your tithe now (not paying "back" tithes) and use the amount you received to help you do so. In the meantime (before the extra money runs out), rearrange your finances so you have room to keep paying your tithe as well as your other expenses.

I have married to the minister who is in big debt. He works to pay off the debt. I have come from another country so i am not allowed to work here for couple of month. My husband wants to spend time praying and seeking the lord. The job does not give him any time. He also spends his evening ministering to the people.

For all of you good tithers out there...I challenge you to answer this question: How many people do you actually know who tithe faithfully and are actually debt-free and have no money worries of any kind? I myself couldn't think of any! That well known 'tithing scripture' that pastors put a guilt trip on folks in Malachi 3:8-12 doesn't have anything to do with the peoples of today. Jesus was talking about the peoples of that all of Mal. 1 & 2 and not just Mal.3...My husband and I tithed for at least 13 years and all we got out of it was poverty and unpaid bills. There were times when all we and our 2 kids had to eat was beans and rice (beans if we were fortunate). Happy to say, we finally saw the light and now, own our own home (no longer rent) and are getting bills paid off as should be. Good book to read is "The Lie Of The Tithe' by R.L. Johnston

"How many people do you actually know who tithe faithfully and are actually debt-free and have no money worries of any kind?"

1. Those verses don't say anything about becoming debt-free.

2. They don't say there will be no money worries of any kind. For instance, having too much money can be a worry for some!!

3. I tithe, have no debt, and for the most part don't have any money worries.

You are right, these verses don't say anything about becoming debt-free. But pastors will like to tell you that this will happen if you are a 'faithful tither'. Tithing with money isn't even scriptural because no where is $$$ mentioned. You are suppose to give monies to the widows, orphans, missionaries and not to your pastor who is getting 'rich' off of the tithing system.

Janet -- Sounds like you need a new church.

Nope! We are all happier now that we are out of the 'church system'...believe what you want or are brainwashed and told to believe, but there is no connection of monies and tithing. Again, 'The Lie Of The Tithe' by R.L. Johnston is an excellent informative read.

Maybe you're the one who is brainwashed. Ever consider that possibility?

Do you even think giving is appropriate for Christians? If so, how much do you give and/or what's your position on it?

No we are not brainwashed, just informed. Yes, giving is appropriate for Christians--not in the matter of that ten percent tithe though. We believe in giving to the widows, orphans, homeless, and charities. We give when we can what we can.

Again, I challenge you or anyone else on here, show me where it says to tithe with $$$. Exact scripture and verse.

Janet --

It's clear to me that you're not open to learning even if I took the time to go through it line by line with you. You've made up your mind and you're simply not teachable. It's unfortunate that your earlier experience with that pastor has caused this. I'm sorry for that.

I suggest you read my entire "The Bible and Money" category, pray about the issue, read the Bible, and see how the Lord leads you.

I don't agree with the way the church tithes. There is no scripture to back it up. Mal. 3: is used against the common people. This chapter is for the Levitical priesthood, concerning the Temple giving. So if you aren't a priest, and since the Temple was destroyed, to sacrifice in, this is not for you. Also after reading the first 3 chapters of Mal. There is absolutely nothing mentioned about tithing money. Its all about having meat in His house. The priests kept it all and they weren't giving any to the widow, orphan and poor (who embraced the laws, ordinances, and practices set by the Father God). The priests were the ones who would receive a curse for not giving a portion of the meat. The church uses this scripture to get money out of everyone. That is one of the reasons I came out of the Roman/Greeco church system that is all tied in with the Catholic church. As it says in 2 Tim. 2:15 Study to show yourself approved. Most people in the church don't study, they let their pastors do it. Oh by the way In the 20 years that I was in the church system, my tithes and offerings came to over $20,000. In those days my husband and I struggled to pay the bills. We gave to so many ministries, promising blessings. Many times I ended up begging money at other churches to pay our electric bill, etc. There are no scriptures to back up tithes and offering are to be money. Most pastors would be upset with this, cause it would cut down on their income. Remember Paul was a tent maker. He had a job. He didn't ask people that he ministered to, to tithe to him, and he wasn't out building a church building. I attend a congregation that has an offering box if you want to give toward the rent of the meeting room at the motel. We are never asked to give money. At times we take up an offering to help someone who has a need, which isn't often. We study the scriptures together, and learn more then we ever had in a church. We bring our lunches, instead of spending money to eat out. There isn't anyone in our group who doesn't have their needs met and most of us don't owe any debts. My husband and I are debt free. We don't live above our means. We are content with what we have. We are Blessed!!!!

Elly --

Read my "The Bible and Money" if you want verses that back up tithing -- there are tons of them.

Do the members of your church "give generously" as commanded in the New Testament?

# Only Levite priests could collect tithes, and there are no Levite priests today.

# Only food products from the land were tithable.

# Money was never a titheable commodity.

# Christian converts were never asked to tithe anything to the Church.

# Tithing in the Church first appears centuries after completion of the Bible.

Forgot these 2:

# Abraham never tithed on his own personal property or livestock.

# Jacob wouldn’t tithe until God blessed him first.

Robert --

For every point you make, I can make one as well. (see my entire category on the issue.)

If you'd prefer to be positive rather than negative, please explain your thoughts on giving and what you feel is appropriate for Christians.

I am kind of curious why you aren't answering these here. Also, on that note, wouldn't tithing according to the OT place you under a curse according to the 3rd chapter of Galatians? To paraphrase if I could, anyone who attempts to be justified by the law places himself under a curse.

It seems that a lot of teachers believe that we can't be blessed without holding on tight to the old covenant, but, if the old covenant could have given life, there would have been no need for a new. (That, of course, is in Hebrews.)

As an aside, the debate is not so much as to the action but about the teaching.

"I am kind of curious why you aren't answering these here."

Here's a short list:

1. I already have responded to these issues - they are just in other posts. That's why I tell people to read all I've said on the issue.

2. These are weighty issues, and to truly respond, I'd need to write several posts worth of commentary. If I responded to all comments like that on this blog, I'd never have time to post an article. And besides, I've already covered it (see point #1.)

3. Most people commenting on this issue don't really want to know the truth or hear a counter-point. Furthermore, they don't offer their own thoughts (or when they do, they are merely opinions, not backed up by scripture.) They simply want to argue. There's nothing to be gained by engaging them.

If anyone who reads this post wants to write a piece on what they think the Bible says about giving (using scripture as proof) and email it to me, I'll review it. If it is well-done (it has to be well-written and logical, it does NOT need to agree with my point of view), I'll post it as a main post on a Sunday and let readers comment on it.

Deal. What's the email address?

See this link for my contact info:

I am saving at least £200 per month as a result of switching my 3 credit card balances using the 0% transfer offers that almost all of the card providers are offering at the moment. My credit history is not thatgreat and I have had to go with companies that send those mail shots that say your guaranteed to be accepted. If you have a good history then go to one of the many comparison websites.

I have been tithing for over 20 years and I have not gone without. God has always provided. Has it been tight, sure? Has it been tough? You bet. I got married in 2004 and I/we fell behind on our giving (I can't remember exactly what the cause was) but I kept track and recently we received a sum of money and I wrote a check to take care of what we knew that was the Lord's and God has blessed us. We have debt, but it is all mine before our marriage. God has blessed us with a son and he is a year old and we have been able to provide for him. We also decided that my wife would stay home with him instead of her working and him being in daycare and God has blessed the decision. I forgot to mention that I am in grad school (seminary) and work a full-time job. Is it tough? Yes, but God will use these difficult times to show us how powerful He is to meet our needs. I listen to Dave Ramsey and we have started the baby steps and right now are working on the debt snowball.

Bottom line, give to God, show Him that He is really first in your life. All I can think of in this situation are these two verses

Honour the Lord with thy substance and with the firstfruits of thine increase.

Malachi 3:10 "..prove me now herewith"

I'm tired of seeing the Mal.3 excuse to tithe. You just don't get it. Mal.3 is to the Levitical priesthood, not to the common man. Read and study it with the Strongs concordance. A preacher isn't a Levite priest, besides we don't live in Israel. Also the tithes in Mal. are a portion of the sacrifices that the people gave. It was meat, or grain offerings. The priests were keeping it all and didn't tithe a portion to the believing widows, orphans or poor. I don't see anything about tithing to churches or preachers in that. Their is no Temple for sacrifices. Please read the whole book of Mal., and stop using this as a way to get money out of the common people, church goers.

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