Can't Meet The Four Walls But Tithing?

A My Total Money Makeover member asks should people tithe when they can’t meet their four walls? Dave says he’s almost never seen this in 20 years of financial counseling.

QUESTION: A My Total Money Makeover member asks should people tithe when they can’t meet their four walls? Dave says he’s almost never seen this in 20 years of financial counseling, but he doesn’t think tithing is a salvation issue.

ANSWER: The four walls—in our vernacular around here—is when you pay food, lights and water, shelter, and transportation. Those are the basic necessities of life. The question is should someone tithe—which is a Christian word or a Jewish word from Scripture about giving a tenth of your income off the top to your local church before you do anything—and not be able to meet your four walls.

To start with, in 20 years of financial counseling, I almost never see that happen. Usually, when someone poses that question, it’s either a hypothetical or they’re being a drama queen or they have a house or car they can’t afford that they need to sell. As far as giving a tithe goes and where that fits in and so forth, number one, your heavenly Father is absolutely crazy about you. He’s not going to like you less or like you more if you give money to your church. You like your kid who gets an F as much as you like your kid who gets an A. You don’t stop loving your children because of their grades.

It’s not a salvation issue. You’re not gaining God’s favor, and you’re not gaining your salvation with the tithe. However, once you’ve declared yourself to be a Christian, then you look down and say, “My Dad in Heaven who is crazy about me says this is the way I should live my life, and He’s a whole lot smarter than me.” If you study Scripture, you’ll find that the tithe is referred to as first fruits many times, which means off the top before you do anything.

Does that make sense if you can’t keep your lights on? Well, usually, if you can’t keep your lights on, it means something else is really wacky here. When you get down to this point, you need to really analyze what’s going on here. It’s not as simple as, “If I tithe, everything’s going to not be okay. If I don’t tithe, everything’s going to be okay mathematically.” It’s just not that clean—ever.

As a believer, I believe. I believe that God loves me, and I believe He’s got my best interest at heart, and I believe sometimes I don’t understand how things work, but I go with it anyway. That’s called faith. I tithed all the way into bankruptcy court, and I tithed all the way out, as wacky as that sounds to some of you. But I’m not going to tell you that you’re going to hell or yell at you about it. I’m just telling you my story.

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