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February 21, 2010


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I gave about $2400 to various ministries in 2009, but I only contributed $500 to my Roth IRA. We paid about $30k of student loans off, and we have less than $20k remaining.

If I would have stuck to the 10% threshold, I would have given around $5-$7k (depending on gross/net argument) in 2009. This would have reduced the amount of money I could have paid toward my student loans and eliminated any contributions to retirement.

I'm not sure that this is what the Lord calls me to and is the most prudent course of action. 1 Timothy 5:8 indicates that "anyone who does not provide for his family... has denied the faith is is worse than an unbeliever" I know this chapter is primarily in the context of leadership in the church, however, I believe it is certainly applicable to all Christians. A Christian deeply in debt and without any retirement plan cannot properly care for his immediate family according to God's plan.

My point is that I hate to see the generous Christian act imprudently. We are called to be generous, but we are also called to prudence and to care for our family. Further, we are certainly called to give generously and I'm not arguing we shouldn't.

Disclosure: I'm not an expert. I'm still trying to figure this out for myself. This is my opinion. I could be very wrong.

So, what if you make 250k$ plus and complain about it?

That deserves a verse or 3 to justify. Do tell.

I still can't get over that post you wrote.

Seth - The most important thing in these situations is motive. If you have sought the Lord and the leading of the Spirit and feel you should temporarily give less to pay off more debt (towards the goal of greater financial freedom to give even more generously in the future), you are free in Christ to do that. If you feel the Lord calling you to give more now and pay off less debt in the process, then do that. Just remember that your motives must be pure either way. God desires us to seek His counsel and His leading for our money. It sounds very much like you have done that--just keep doing it. Keep searching the word and the Lord.

Brian - I am not sure what you are talking about. Are you referring to another Dollars and Doctrine post...or something previous to today's post?

Brian --

You need to re-read that post. You missed the point.


1. I never said what my salary was and never claimed that I made $250k.

2. I didn't complain that other people made that amount and I didn't say they were complaining either.

3. My point was that the journalist who wrote the piece was using income as a measurment for wealth, and that was inappropriate. Net worth is the correct measure for wealth. If you read the links in that post, you'll see example after example of people who had high incomes and not much wealth (low net worth) and people who had moderate incomes and great wealth (high net worth.) My beef was that someone who was supposed to know better didn't understand basic personal finance terminology.

Seth --

The other thing I would add is that for most people, it's not an either/or proposition.

Many Americans will spend money on high-level cable TV packages, expensive cell phone plans, big vacations, etc. and then complain that they don't have enough money to give, save, and pay off debt. If they really wanted to do more giving, saving or debt repayment, they could, but their spending prohibits it. I'm not saying this is your situation, but based on the people I've coached and talked to through the years, this situation is quite common.

To me, motive/attitude/priorities is really the issue here and something you need to sort out. Personally, I felt that I needed to tithe and give offerings while I saved for retirement and paid off my mortgage. Could I have saved more, paid off the debt quicker, or spent the money on "fun" things if I had lowered my giving? Sure. But I felt God was calling me to give, and that's what we did.

We didn't want to sacrifice our savings either, so the things that went were extra spending and the mortgage. We didn't have cable TV for 15 years. We didn't have cell phones back when they first came out (I have a company-paid one now). We took vacations to see family, not to Hawaii, etc. And we didn't pay off our mortgage as fast as we wanted. But we still gave and saved because those were the two priorities for us.

Good luck as you seek out the priorities for your life.

This was a decent post (even if one is not a Christian).

I believe you were splitting hairs with the aforementioned post. If one makes $250k+ a year, then yes they are "rich." If they're in debt up to their eyeballs by not following said principles in this post, then that means they don't understand basic personal finance.

Thank you for once again helping us all to prioritize our walk with the Lord and Money. It can be easy to lose sight of how money can be a tool to do the Lord's work. It can quickly become a way to justify how we can take care of ourselves. The more we learn to give, the more we learn to trust that our God will care for all of our needs.

Great post!

Hey FMF,

Were you consistently giving more than 10% while you had mortgage debt? What about an emergency fund? I will probably have a mortgage for the next several years; therefore, I want to be careful and not prioritize incorrectly. There will always be something to save for or spend on. Its about striking the right balance of giving and saving/spending after seeking counsel and in the spirit. I want to give, but I also want to make sure I have a full emergency fund and zero debt. Ultimately, I feel that the Lord is calling me to be prudent with my family's finances. If I double my current gifts and consequently give 10% (or more) now and it takes that much longer to construct an emergency fund and pay off student loans, I'm opening up my family to much more risk.

Charity is a good thing.

But MasterPo can't recall any verses from the Bible that one must put others a heard of one's family and own well being.

While MasterPo wouldn't dream of speaking for the powers in Heaven, what could be more holy and just than taking care of your own charges and responsibilities? MasterPo can't imagine a deity who would be angry with a person placing the well being of their own families first.

Before someone jumps up and says "You have enough and others need help too!" it isn't for anyone on this Earth to judge that someone has "enough".

If more people just did what they could to provide for themselves and their families the world would be a better place.

I always like your biblical money topics best. Probably because I can relate to them the most. I can't relate to topics that discuss people who are wealthy or make huge salaries, but I can always relate to posts that discuss Biblical principles. :)

Seth --

Yes, we tithed (10%) and gave offerings all the way through paying off our mortgage. We also saved for retirement. But, as I mentioned above, we had to make choices, do without, etc.

MasterPo --

As I noted above, it's most often not an either/or choice.

FMF - overall good. One point you make in the "Be free of the love of money" section is to send your kids to public school. This would seem to be at odds with the many Christian private schools?

jclimber --

I'll let the author address that if he visits this post (this is a gueat post -- I didn't write it -- see the opening comment.)

FMF - sorry about that. I guess the opening comment implied to me that the excerpt was yours.

JClimber - (author of Dollars and Doctrine) sorry, just noticed your question. The items on the love of money list are just a few random suggestions for the Christian struggling with materialistism to consider. They are by no means an accusation that there is anything wrong with any of the items on the list. I have found that those who struggle with loving money and the things that affluence can bring, can grow a lot personally and spiritually when they begin to sacrifice lifestyle. No commentary on public or private education was intended. Just like no commentary on whether or not it is wrong to have a lake house, be a member of the country club or pay 6 bucks for a half-caf-soy-hazelnut-latte. Some Christians struggle with materialism. Living more simply and more economically can be liberating to these individuals. That's all. Sorry this is so late.

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