Debt can feel all-consuming. It can be your sole financial priority for a period of time, until you get it paid off. And typically, that’s a great way to pay down your debt. But that leaves people wondering – should you tithe while you have debt?
What is Tithing?
A tithe is money Christians give to their church. According to the Bible, a tithe is 10% of your income. While there are plenty of other ways to give, a tithe is specifically money.
Are There Alternatives to Tithing?
While there are other ways to give to the church, they aren’t considered tithing.
You can still give the church your time, gifts, and talents. You can volunteer to help with Sunday School, prepare meals, or sing in the choir. However, tithing is strictly related to giving 10 percent of your income.
Should You Tithe?
If you follow a belief system that suggests you tithe, then you should prioritize it.
If you are a Christian, the Bible will tell you that tithing is a way to demonstrate your trust in God with your finances. It’s a way to prioritize the needs of others and your church before yourself.
While God doesn’t need your money, your church does. In fact, tithing is one of the only ways that churches can function. They require funds to pay for the building, pay the staff, and keep the lights on in the building. Plus, tithing allows churches to do more outreach programs and offer more to the community.
Tithing is an unselfish act. It can be difficult to give away 10 percent of your income, but that’s what makes it worthwhile. It’s supposed to challenge you and make you question your own intentions.
If you’re uncertain about what your church suggests regarding tithing, make an appointment to speak with your church leader. He or she would likely be happy to help you understand your obligation to tithe under your faith.
Do You Have to Tithe?
No one is going to force you to give money.
You should be wary of any organization requiring you to tithe to be a member. If you are a Christian, a church should help you process and grow in understanding of tithing.
The Bible states 10 percent of your income should be tithed. However, giving anything is better than nothing. Instead of thinking of tithing as a financial decision, think of it as a spiritual decision. That way, you will be giving from the right place in your heart.
So in short – the decision to tithe or not to tithe is completely up to you and you feel called to do.
Should You Tithe While Paying Off Debt?
Even if you are in loads of debt, you should still tithe if you feel called to it. Why?
Being generous and giving with your money can transform your life. Even though it is responsible to pay off debt, it’s even more responsible to tithe according to your beliefs. Because let’s be honest – the debt will eventually get paid off. But the lessons, discipline, and blessings received through tithing will never disappear.
On the other hand, if you have debt, you may be struggling to even put food on the table. In this case, talk with your spiritual leader and work out your finances together. You may find there are small bills you can lower or eliminate, and can give that money to your church instead. For instance, you can eat at home instead of going out, you can cancel any unnecessary subscription services, or you can call your service companies to see about lowering your bill.
Should You Tithe While Paying Off Debt?
If you’re wondering if you should give money before or after taxes, you aren’t alone. The Bible was written before the days of the IRS, so it unfortunately doesn’t get that specific!
Since there aren’t any formal outlines, the decision to give pre or post- tax is entirely up to you. The important thing is to simply give. As mentioned above, it’s not a financial decision as much as it is a spiritual decision, so do what feels right to you.
How Should You Start Tithing?
If you are just starting to consider tithing, you may find yourself completely overwhelmed. And that’s okay! It is a big deal to have faith that your money will be used for things bigger than yourself. It’s supposed to be a challenging, but faithful, decision to make. Here’s how to start tithing.
Tithing is a very spiritual decision. If you find the idea of tithing daunting at first, don’t fret. You can always pray about the decision. Spend time in prayer and ask God to make it clear just how generous you should be.
Ask Your Spiritual Leader
Church leaders know tithing can be a very difficult decision. Giving up 10 percent of your income isn’t easy, and it requires a huge act of faith.
If you are struggling in your prayer, or are still uncertain about what it means to tithe, then ask your spiritual leader to meet. He or she will be able to address some of your concerns and pray with you so you can make the right decision.
A tithe should stretch you financially. So, in order to give away the full 10 percent of your income, you will need to take a long, hard look at your budget.
Take the time to sit down and look at your budget. Are there any areas of spending you can cut back on? Or, are there any budget line-items you can eliminate completely?
Look at where you can save money. Some areas, like your mortgage or rent, utility bills, or debt payments are fixed-costs. These fixed-costs are going to be difficult, if not impossible to lower. Instead, focus on lowering your variable expenses. Costs such as groceries and clothing are very controllable and can be an easy way to find more room in your monthly budget.
Set Up Automatic Giving
Once you decide on the amount to give monthly, you can look to see if your church has automatic giving. Nowadays, most institutions allow for online giving, making it an easy way to stay on top of your monthly giving.
Rachel Slifka is a freelance writer and human resources professional. She is passionate about helping fellow millennials find success with their finances and careers. Read more by checking out her website at RachelSlifka.com.