More than 2,350. That’s how many Bible verses there are that address money in some way, shape, or form. Some of those verses , others discourage lending or , a few directly against the love of God, and perhaps the most famous Old Testament passage regarding money encourages giving .
But are we still expected to give when we’re financially struggling? When we face a money crunch such as un- or under-employment or debt we are trying to pay off, the question of tithing gets tricky. Is tithing when the budget is tight an act of faith? Or is the wise response to stop tithing in order to clean up one’s finances? Here’s what three experts have to say about tithing during financially tough times.
Trust God and Tithe, No Matter What
I think our natural human tendency, in times of trouble, is to hold back and be stingy. We want to circle the wagons and protect what little resources we have left because we think it all depends on us. But the truth is that whether we have a little or a lot, tithing is an act of faith. It is the moment when we acknowledge that all of what we have belongs to God and that we are not in control. In times of trouble, it is easy to forget that God is so much bigger than our financial struggle, but he is. Because when it comes right down to it, the one who asks us to give is the same God who turned into a meal for five thousand and a ’s small container of oil into enough to provide for all her needs. God has shown over and over again that he will take what little we have and multiply it many times over, but we have to be willing to let him take the reins.
Ruth Soukup is a writer, entrepreneur, occasional DIYer, and author of Living Well Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life. You can connect with Ruth on Facebook or by following her on Twitter at @RuthSoukup.
In Lean Times, Pare Back Your Giving
David A. Croteau
We must begin by defining our terms. The modern definition of tithing is ‘“giving 10 percent of our income to our local church.” If that is your definition of tithing, and you believe that tithing is a requirement for Christians, then our convictions will be different. While it is true that the word tithe literally means “10 percent,” the Israelite tithe in the Old Testament Law was the expectation of actually “giving 10 percent of one’s increase from crops grown in the land of Israel or cattle that feed off the land of Israel.” Tithing was expected at least biyearly, totaling more like 20 percent of the yearly crops and cattle. While the Old Testament mentions money many times in Genesis, tithing was never connected to money.
We must realize that the Old Testament tithe has been fulfilled by Christ—just like the rest of the Old Testament laws—and is no longer a duty for the Christian. We are freed to express our gratitude to Christ through wise stewardship of what we have been given. When faced with a financial crisis, we are to adjust the percentage of income we give in order to be responsible with our obligations. When we find ourselves in times of financial prosperity, we should challenge ourselves to give generously, even sacrificially, with Christ being our example!
Ten percent is not a required standard: God wants us to have a relationship with him, not a calculator. There is simply no required percentage. Decrease your giving when you are in a financial crisis. Increase it during times of prosperity. We should be in the habit of giving regularly with a cheerful heart as an act of worship toward our Jesus ().
David A Croteau, Ph.D., is professor of New Testament and Greek at Columbia International University. He is a contributor to Perspective on Tithing: 4 Views and the author of Tithing After the Cross and Urban Legends of the New Testament (Fall 2015). You can listen to David’s latest sermon on tithing and follow him via his blog and on Twitter at @dacroteau.
Pray and Prioritize, So You Can Tithe
A tithe is a tenth of your income, which is a biblical mandate that the Christian church has taken to heart (). But there’s no place in Scripture where it says not tithing will send you to hell. The question is, what’s the best thing to do and why does God have us tithe? Is it because he needs our money? No. He tells us to tithe because of what it does inside of us. It keeps us from being so self-centered that we think the world revolves around us. And by being a little less self-centered, we’re better humans. We’re a little more Christlike when we’re giving. But God doesn’t need your money.
Should you tithe on your income if you need a miracle to get through the rest of the month? Honestly, if you can’t live on 90 percent, it’s unlikely that you can live on 100 percent.
If you sit down and do a monthly, written budget, you can probably find a way to tithe if it’s important to you. I’m not going to guilt-trip you. Pray and read the Bible and let God speak to you on this. But this point is clear: the Bible doesn’t say wait until you get your debt under control, it says tithe—first fruits off the top before anything else.
Dave Ramsey is the author of six best-selling books, including The Total Money Makeover, Complete Guide to Money, More than Enough, and Financial Peace Revisited. Dave is a popular radio host and the creator of Financial Peace University. This excerpt is taken from an article he previously wrote for TCW.
This article was compiled by Joy Beth Smith. Joy Beth enjoys writing stories, reading books, drinking coffee, and working as the editorial coordinator for Today’s Christian Woman.