Q. My wife and I have decided to tithe and put it first in our finances. We have been sending some money to a missionary for a while now, but not the full ten percent. A week after we made this decision and were going to start my father calls and says that he and my mother would like to stop by and talk with my wife and I. After some persuading he tells me it has to do with their finances, and that things are not going very well. My wife and I prayed that God’s will be done, and to let us listen with love. My parents came over the next day and proceeded to tell me that they were falling behind by a few hundred each month because of one large bill, and that they are going to file for bankruptcy. My wife and I listened then excused ourselves for a few minutes and quickly agreed that we had to help. We told them of our decision to tithe regularly, and the amount that would put us at a full ten percent was only a little less then what they were falling behind every month. We also met with them the next day and helped create a budget that they could stick to, and got their bills up to date.
My question is this, will God see this as tithing, or did I just put my earthly wealth into earthly things until this large bill is paid for? We did not give them the money with the hope of being paid back, and have decided that if they feel the need to pay it back, then the money will go to the Church.
A. Traditionally, churches have used tithe money to care for the poor and indigent among them. If you gave your tithe to the church and your parents applied there for relief and got it, the church would theoretically be giving your parents your tithe.
You may not get any tax credit by doing it this way, because your parents aren’t a registered non-profit organization, but you will be fulfilling your responsibility in the eyes of the Lord. 1 Tim 5:8 says, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
Charles Dickens coined the phrase, “Charity begins at home,” basing it on an earlier thought by John Wycliffe , who drew upon verses like the one above for his inspiration. (Wycliffe was the first to translate the Bible into English.) In short, I think you’ve got a pretty good case.