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Should We Tithe When in Debt? Marriage and Money Seminar

by | Tue, Mar 7 2023

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The concept of tithing can be traced back to the Old Testament, where a tenth of a person’s income was given to support the Levite priests to fulfil their priestly duties and upkeep the tabernacle as directed by Mosaic Law. The New Testament teaches about giving rather than tithing. Giving, according to a person’s ability, is considered an important aspect of Christian life, with many believers seeing it as a way to honour God and contribute to the work of the church or religious organisations.

Brett and Kate Ryan from Focus on the Family and Alex Cook, founder of Wealth With Purpose, share their knowledge and expertise in a Marriage and Money seminar designed to provide practical tools and biblical wisdom for managing your money and strengthening your marriage. The seminar was live-streamed from Vision Christian Media’s Brisbane studios and hosted by Neil Johnson from 20Twenty.

It’s not just couples who can benefit from the valuable insights and expertise shared by Brett, Kate and Alex; everyone will find gold nuggets of wisdom in this seminar series they can apply to their lives to help them make sound financial decisions and build strong relationships.

Beware of Being a Slave to Money

When the question was posed as to whether we should tithe when deeply in debt, Alex said that while tithing is a theological issue, he believes we should never get ourselves into so much debt that we can’t give.

‘God doesn’t want you to be enslaved. So, if you’ve made the mistake of getting yourself into too much debt, have a plan to get out of it,’ said Alex.

Alex recommends having a debt plan with a timeline of when you expect to be debt free. He believes giving shouldn’t cease, even if you can only give a little. If you’re in a debt crisis, Alex believes you should still give something and incrementally increase your giving, becoming more generous over time as your debt decreases.

‘Whether you’ve got debt or not, we should be living a generous life. I encourage people to chat to their pastors to get the different perspectives on tithing, but you should be living with an open hand,’ said Alex. ‘As a believer, money will come into your hands, and you’ve got to share it, and that should happen whether you’ve got debt or not.’

God Can Solve our Crisis

Kate believes that giving when you’re in financial crisis mode doesn’t necessarily have to be money, but giving your time to serve someone else who just needs you to sit there and have a cup of coffee and spend time with them.

‘The more you focus on a crisis, the bigger it becomes. We get caught in the storm, and our narrative gets as big as the storm or bigger. And yet we should be going to God’s Word since He’s the calmer of the storm,’ said Kate. ‘Jesus went to sleep in the boat during a storm and called his disciples out on their lack of faith. He just spoke to the wind and instantly calmed the situation. And, He can solve our problems if we just rely on him. Brett and I have been in storms. Not just financial but health storms and broken relationship storms. God has promised to be there in the valley if you run to him. It’s us who walks away from him.’

Alex points out the importance of living with the biblical principle of putting God first, as Jesus stated in Matthew 6:33.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:33 NASB20

Brett reminds us of the story of the widow’s mite. Jesus praised her for giving the little she had. In His eyes, she gave more than the wealthiest giver. So, it’s not about giving once you’ve paid your debts off but giving what you can, even if it means it will take longer to pay off your debt. Not only are you creating a good habit of giving, but you’re putting God first.

If you are experiencing hardship, marriage or financial stress, there is hope and help. You can find helpful resources on the Focus on the Family and Wealth With Purpose websites by clicking the links. You are not alone. You can also contact the Vision Prayerline for confidential prayer from our caring Prayer Warriors.

To view the full Marriage and Money seminar, click on the link below. The topic of tithing and debt begins at the 43-minute mark.