God loves a cheerful giver. But, when in debt, you may find it difficult to give money away. Discover how to be a good Christian despite financial constraints!
The majority of churches teach the practice of tithing to their people. Tithing is a tradition that goes beyond borders, and it has gone beyond many generations as well. In modern times, especially in times of uncertainty, many wonder, “How do I tithe when I am still paying off debt?”
To find the answer to this question, we must venture into:
- What tithing is
- What it means to tithe
- How to go about balancing generosity with practicality and survival
So, let’s get right to it!
What is a Tithe or Tithing?
A tithe is a specific part of your money that you give back to where you came from. Tithing is an act that shows your gratefulness for the blessings you receive every day. Tithing is how you help those in need, like how God provided for you when you needed it.
The biblical figure for tithes is 10%. The word tithe itself translates into “tenth” in Hebrew. In the Bible, tithing suggests living a meaningful life by giving back—to be a good steward who dedicates themselves to the glory and the works of God.
Tithing says that no matter where you are in life—rich or poor—you must give back to wherever you came from. It is not a flat fee, saying that you must give out $100 regardless of your finances. It simply says 10%. So, if you earn $100,000 a year, give back at least $1,000. If you only make $10,000 a year, you can only give back at least $100.
What Does the Bible Teach About Tithing?
A tithe was once an obligatory offering back in the time of Moses. The Israelites offered a tenth of their first fruits before consuming or selling any of them. The Bible reasons that there is no harvest without the Almighty One. Thus, we, the people, must know how to recognize the grace of God by tithing and offering.
We must offer the first fruits of our labor to express our gratefulness for His mercy. We must, though, not act out of compulsion, for God loves only offerings that come with purity from the heart.
The Old Testament and New Testament
1. The first tithe (Gen. 14:19–20)
And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
2. Jacob offers a tithe (Gen. 28:20–22)
Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.”
3. The tithe introduced as law (Lev. 27:30–34)
Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord. If a man wishes to redeem some of his tithe, he shall add a fifth to it. And every tithe of herds and flocks, every tenth animal of all that pass under the herdsman’s staff, shall be holy to the Lord. One shall not differentiate between good or bad, neither shall he make a substitute for it; and if he does substitute for it, then both it and the substitute shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.”
4. Bringing in the tithe (2 Chron. 31:4–5)
And he commanded the people who lived in Jerusalem to give the portion due to the priests and the Levites, that they might give themselves to the Law of the Lord. As soon as the command was spread abroad, the people of Israel gave in abundance the firstfruits of grain, wine, oil, honey, and of all the produce of the field. And they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything.
Tithing is, therefore, the act of giving first before enjoying the fruits of your labor. It is finding it in your heart to give, despite your financial situation, at least one-tenth of what you have.
What’s the Difference Between Tithes and Offerings?
Tithes are more specific since the scriptures addressing tithing say to offer at least 10% of your income. When you believe you can give more than the usual 10%, the amount beyond your tithe is an offering.
How Do I Tithe and Offer?
There are many ways to reach the Lord and sharing your blessings with His people. Below are some examples of how you can both tithe and offer.
Church Tithes and Offerings
You can go the conventional way and give back through your local churches. Tithing and offerings are always a part of church services. You can easily give your contributions there.
If you cannot go to your local church, some churches have a presence using online platforms. You can find their websites or pages online so you can tithe and offer from your home.
Donating to Charity
Whether you don’t have a church or only want another way to give back in some way other than to churches, you can also donate. Many charitable organizations will be happy to receive your kind tithes and offerings. They can, in your stead, help others in need.
Helping Friends and Family
The person you may be looking for to help might already be at your doorstep. You could direct your efforts to someone within your close circle that is in need of dire help.
A family or friend may be in search of a small-dollar loan. You can tithe by helping them in their darkest days with the money you have.
Do I Have to Tithe?
Tithing is a religious and moral obligation you have to yourself. No one can force you, by law, to give up the money you worked hard for. But, if you wish to feel accomplished spiritually, tithing plays a vital role in that. In the spirit of giving, you can find peace with the fact that you are not all about the material things in this world.
You can also stop tithing. There are no legal consequences to that. You will not pay fines or go to jail for not tithing.
As 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV) says,
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Asking the question “Do I have to tithe?” is beyond the real point. You should never feel obligated to tithe, but instead, you should feel honored to do it in the name of God and his glory.
10 Common Questions About Tithing
1. If I Don’t Go to Church, Should I Still Donate 10% Of My Income?
Believing in tithing does not need you to have a church or a religious affiliation. If you want to, you can donate 10% of your income somewhere else that you think it will do good. You don’t even have to give to a church to tithe. You can provide, though not reluctantly, to charitable organizations like orphanages.
2. How Much Should I Tithe While Paying Off Debt?
Not all have the luxury of being debt-free, but even if you are still on your way to getting out of debt, tithing is still essential and must be a priority. Like the Bible said, ‘give before you spend.’ If you think you cannot survive with only 90% of your income, you may have to re-assess your expenses.
Make a realistic budget that includes all of your obligations and stick to it.
3. What Does God Say About Tithing While Getting Out of Debt?
According to the Bible, God always said to offer some of your fruits before anything else. Hebrews 13:16 says,
“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
Based on this scripture, the debt must not affect tithing. While you still have to pay off debt, you still must pay tribute to the glory of God in some form or another.
4. Do I Give 10% of My Income Before or After Taxes? And Do I Add Income from Side Hustles?
The actual money you give as a tithe is and always will be up to you. The amount does not even have to be exact to the cent. The point here is giving back wholeheartedly. Give back to Jesus Christ about a tenth of your resources in good faith, and you have done well. Whether you do it before or after taxes is up to you.
If you have extra income from side hustles, you can count that as part of your income and take 10% of that as well. You can do more of not focusing on the tiniest detail of this tradition. Redirect your focus on consistently doing it—tithe when you have little and tithe when you have much.
5. Do I Count My Church Tithe on Tax Returns?
In the same light that giving is a matter of the heart and spirit, taxing your tithes is also up to you. If including your tithed offerings in your tax return will help you manage your finances better, do it.
6. Should I Tithe 10% Off of My Tax Return Money?
If you have already tithed your income before taxes, you have already paid for your 10%. Thus, your tax return money is yours already—no need to tithe for it again.
A piece of advice, though: try your best to pay tax in its exact amount. Any excess tax you pay to the government is like an interest-free loan you hand out to them. Avoid paying more taxes than you should. Save your money for personal needs instead of wasting your time with tax returns.
7. Should I Tithe on Loans?
A loan is a debt you owe to another person. It is not your own money you’re taking out of your pocket, so if it does not already fit on your regular budget to live, do not tithe on your loan. When you get out of debt, then you can start tithing on the fruits of your labor.
8. Should I Tithe on Gifts?
No scripture in the Bible dictates what you do with the free stuff you get from other people. It is your decision what you believe you must do with the gifts you receive. If you want to tithe on gifts, then do so.
9. How Do I Get Out of Debt to Tithe More?
Good Christians take pride in their word. When you commit yourself to a loan, do your best to do well on the promises you make. Pay on time and in full. Emergencies are seldom expected, so have contingency plans in place to secure your payments and pay off debt as soon as possible.
10. Should I Increase My Tithe When I Have More Money?
If you follow the 10% rule, your tithes will increase along with your income. But, if you want to increase the percentage itself, say to 12%-20%, that’s up to you. You can always give more through offerings when you have extra.
Do not forget to take care of your own and your family’s needs. Balance your money well and find the perfect combo of being a responsible and kind person.
How to Pay Off Debt and Tithe Right
You can pay off your debt by staying focused on your priorities. If you want to get out of debt fast, work hard to earn money. Pay your lender back quicker than the interest your loan is growing. Once you repay your debt, you can feel more driven to share what you have.
Tithing must be a nourishing activity both for your spirit and your finances. Do away with debt and share your blessings without sacrificing your survival.
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