Q. I am trying to balance tithing vs. paying off debt. My question to you is, do I not tithe at all, and focus all my available funds towards debt? Do I split the debt payments and tithing? Or do I tithe 10% and use what’s left over pay towards debt?
A. This is a much more complex question than it appears to be because it goes to philosophy and motive, not just action.
First, the philosophy. One purpose of tithing is to teach us that God has an abundance of money and is a generous giver to those who give generously to His work. (Luke 6:38) He wants us to have an abundance mentality, which means we’re to believe there’s no limit to His ability to see to our needs. Remember, He said, “I have come so that they can have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
Your question reveals that like most people, you have a scarcity mentality. That means you believe there’s only a certain amount of money available to you and you have to find a way to make it go around. This is the opposite of an abundance mentality, and it stems from the belief that you and you alone are responsible for the money you get. But both Luke 6:38 and 2 Cor. 9:10-11 tell us that God can influence the flow of money that comes to us, and that generous giving is the key to increased financial well being.
Next comes the motive. Tithing is meant to be an expression of our gratitude for what God has already given us. It’s not something we do in the hope of making our future better. If you are sincerely thankful for what the Lord has given you, regardless of your current circumstances, then tithing is your way of saying thanks. Seeing that you’re grateful for what He’s already given you, the Lord will bless you with more.
But withholding our tithe, or giving with an expectation of future blessing, reveals that our true motivation is greed, and short circuits the process.
This is all summed up in Proverbs 11:24-25.
One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
If you’re grateful for what you’ve already received, then give generously to the Lord’s work without expectation of future gain. This will release Him to be more generous with you in return.