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Ask Dave

Tithing Isn't Your Problem

Matt wants to start tithing but feels he doesn't have the money to do it. Dave explains how to budget with a tithe included.

QUESTION: Matt in Nebraska wants to start tithing but feels he doesn’t have the money to do it. He makes $36,000 a year at his first job and $6,000 at his second job. His wife is disabled and receives $460 a month for that. Dave explains how to budget with a tithe included.

ANSWER: The first thing we need to know is it has nothing to do with your salvation and that God doesn’t love tithers more than non-tithers period, does He? This is not a thing where I’m trying to get God’s attention and I’m trying to get an A on my God report card or something. Then we say all right, why does God teach us to tithe—to give a tenth of our income to our local church? That’s what we who are evangelical Christians believe the Bible says. Why does He teach us to do that? That’s what we’ve got to think of. Then we think, what is He trying to accomplish by teaching us? Because it’s not our salvation. We’re not getting brownie points with Him. He loves tithers just like He loves non-tithers. Why is He telling us to tithe? That’s how I started approaching it a few years ago.

I figured out that what He’s trying to do is He’s trying to turn me into a giver because he’s trying to make me over into the image of His Son, who is certainly a giver. He’s trying to turn me into a giver. That’s part of your spiritual walk. It’s not about guilt-tripping, and it’s not about being a bad Christian. It’s not about God turns His face away from you if you don’t tithe. We get away from all that toxic crap.

If God says to give a tenth off the top before I do anything else, and He’s God and He certainly knew you were going to be in this situation—it didn’t catch Him off guard—how does He expect you to make it? Why would He make that more important than almost anything else on your budget? Then you’ve got to stop and think about that. I did. I considered it through that non-toxic view—what I consider a healthy view of my Christian faith—and based on that, I continued to tithe even if I couldn’t do other things. But it wasn’t from a guilt trip or a Christian duty perspective or something like that. It was because I truly believe that He loves me. He’s got my best interests at heart, and He’s saying do this even if I don’t understand how it’s all going to work out.

Once I started with that, it changed everything. I would just do the budget and take the tithe off the top before I did anything else. Then I would just work it out with the rest of it as if I just didn’t have the money. It always worked out. Sometimes I couldn’t pay a bill, but it wasn’t because I tithed.

Your tithe in your situation is a few hundred bucks a month. It’s really not your problem. You’ve got other problems. Your debt is your problem. Your income being somewhat low is a bit of your problem. Those are the things you’re facing.

I would encourage you, looking at it through a healthy lens, to continue to try to do that not from a guilt-trip standpoint but because I think it’s the right thing to do for you. Work it that way.