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October 21, 2012


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Even if all you do is give $1 that will go a long way with spirit and soul that it very well may help you dig out of debt. We have a homeless lady at our downtown church who gives. She is not trying to get out of debt, but you wonder just how much she gets in return as she displays a smile as large or even larger than others during mass. (And no she is not crazy, just caring and happy in her own skin).

I beleive you have the right of it.

Our biggest debt - one that can never be repaid - is to God. Therefore, I believe that giving is the priority regardless of what else is occurring financially because it reminds us what our priorities should be.

No. If you are in debt, you dont have anything to give. You are fooling yourself and falsely buying a feel good fix when you give away the money that you have already promised to others. Being a christian has nothing to do with it...we are supposed to give to caeser what is caesers....christians need to pay their debts just like anyone else.

MC -

The rest of the "Caesar" verse you quote ends with "...and to God what is God's."

MC - that blanket statement seems silly. Almost all Americans have some sort of debt. We have student loan debt, mortgage debt, and use credit cards so have revolving debt. However, we are able to save thousands of dollars per month even after giving away thousands per month. How are we unqualified to give? How is that giving foolish? And why do you consider giving "buying a feel-good fix?" While giving does make us feel good, that is not our primary motivation.

Not to belabor the point, but my creditors were not promised every dollar I make until they're paid off - they were promised regular payments of a set amount for a set length of time. I'm curious as to whether your hard-line stance of paying off debt prior to any giving would also apply to spending on any non-essential items (such as the occasional meal out, gifts for close friends on their birthday, etc.)? If anything giving should come before any luxuries (at least for a believer).

Well, the caeser quote's context is very clear....the coin with caeser's face in it, ie money, that is what is for caeser, while it is strongly implied that what belongs to God is something other than the coins.

I do not actually think there should be zero donations while having a mortgage etc.

However, I have known too many people who have problem debt, or who are too poor to take care of their kids properly, or are elderly and cant pay for their medications so they stop taking them, who are throwing away what moneythey may have (at their church's urging!) by giving to various causes. I also have had family members who asked me for money to support themselves and their family, because they followed their religious leader's instructions to "show their faith" by giving their church most of their income. This is just stupid, and is certainly not Biblical.

Unfortunately, many religious leaders regularly cynically exploit people's generosity and attempts to do the right thing.

Though paying off your debt should be a priority, tithing comes first. Even when in debt, you still tithe.
First of all: that first part is holy for God and He will make the other 90% Holy.
After you pay your tithe, you first pay your monthly bills, and set aside an amount for food etc. From what is left over you can make an arrangement to pay off your debt.
Make sure in the meantime that you change your whole attitude towards spending in general. No softdrinks but water, no new cd's or dvd's, and buy 2nd hand stuff. Do more by bike or walking if possible.
And keep the faith: God is our provider!

MC --

If you read the entire section of that quote (MT 22:15-22), the religious leaders were trying to trap Jesus by asking a question regarding taxes. He replied with an answer that "amazed" them because he avoided the trap.

So the story in its specific context is about taxes (not debt), but much more than that as well.

There's a lot that we could discuss from here, but I'll save that for a later time. Just wanted to be sure we were all on the same page regarding that passage.

Yes. Hans said it well.

Yes, Hans has the right idea. As I get older I find more joy in giving, even in lean times. It is important to handle finances from a biblical perspective (20% title and offering and 80% expenses). God also allows us to create conveniences and comforts for our enjoyment, as is affordable for each person. If you are called to and enjoy living on the bare necessities of life, it doesn't make you holier, it just works for you.

We are digging our way out of credit card and student loan debt, and we continue to give. We have just lowered how much we give with the understanding that we will give more when less of our money is going to servicing debts.

I think FMF is on the right track with his interpretation of Matt. 22:15-22, and I think we should take those thoughts a step farther.

Jesus was indeed outmaneuvering the Pharisees' trap when he answered, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's." However, Jesus wasn't saying that some things are the government's and some things are God's. Jesus spoke deftly and subtly. He didn't openly defy the Roman government's authority and yet he relativized it. The faithful Jew/Christian knew then and knows now that all things are God's. Therefore, even a coin with Caesar's face on it belongs to God and should be given to God and God's purposes.

Jesus' followers are taught to respect and submit to earthly governments (taxes should be paid, etc.) because the authority of those governments are not their own but flow from God who is the owner of all things. We should continue giving unto Caesar what has been entrusted to Caesar's unless doing so becomes unreconcilable with giving unto God what is God's.

So, I agree that Christians should give thoughtfully and generously even as they work diligently to pay off their financial debts.

It amazes me how few people realize the true context of the "give to Caesar" passage.

Jesus asks to examine the coin, and brings attention to the image and the inscription on the coin. Do you know what the inscription says? "Augustus Tiberius, son of the Divine Augustus". A blasphemous claim, for sure.

Remember the punishment for blasphemy is stoning. "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's" is a subversive statement, but cleverly worded so as not to provoke the Roman authorities. It's an indictment of the Roman emperor, and at best a non-answer about taxes.

Now, regarding the question of paying off debt:

If your money is already owed to someone else, then it's not yours to give (I would apply this to taxes as well, but I wouldn't use the Matthew 22 passage to argue it.) So you should not be giving if you can't also make the required payments on your debt; giving away someone else's money makes you a thief.

What you should do is try to increase your income, control your spending, etc. to the point that you're able to make payments on your debt and manage some giving on top of that.

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