If someone gave you $1,000 and then asked for $100 back and let you keep $900, would you accept the offer? I know I would. That’s how I feel about tithing.
Of all the personal things we share at Six Figures Under, the topic that has brought the most criticism and concern from readers is tithing. I’d like to explain a little more about why tithing is a priority for us, even though we’ve got a serious goal to pay off major debt. I won’t be preachy, I just want you to know where we’re coming from.
We Pay a 10% Tithe on Our Income
If you’ve seen our monthly budget reports where our personal finances are made public, you know that each month, we pay a full 10% tithe on our income. Our total income varies each month, so at the end of the month, we total up our income, then pay 10% of the total at the beginning of the next month. When I was single and life was simpler, I would pay my tithing on each individual paycheck, but for simplicity’s sake we pay once a month.
Tithing is a Priority
The first line in our budget (and each month’s financial report) is tithing. That’s not a coincidence. Tithing is our highest financial priority. We consider all that we have as a gift from God. He not only gives us our actual possessions, he also gives us the talents and ability to do something with our lives, including earning our monthly income. When I was young I learned a verse that explains it perfectly:
I’m glad to pay a tithing, one-tenth of all I earn.
It’s little when I think of all God gives me in return.
We Expect Blessings
We believe God’s promise from Malachi chapter 3 that he will “open the windows of heaven” and pour out great blessings on us as we pay tithing in faith. We have seen the blessings that come in our lives as we obey this commandment. Sometimes they are financial and sometimes they are not, but we have no doubt that God takes care of us when we are willing to give back part of what he has first given us.
Don’t Feel Bad For Us
I’ve been taken aback by some of the criticism and concern of readers. I thought I would share a few concerns and my responses to them in case other readers have the same concerns.
“It angers me beyond belief that a church would require and accept a 10% tithe from someone in your financial situation.”
We don’t see it as the church requiring a tithe, but rather as a commandment of God. Tithing is about faith, not about money. The commandment doesn’t change depending on your current financial situation. Restricting people from paying tithing is denying them the great blessings that come with obedience to this commandment.
“A church that sets an expectation of 10% tithing is more about business than about spirit.”
Our church has an unpaid ministry. We all volunteer our time to serve in various positions in our local congregations. Tithing money is used to construct church buildings and temples throughout the world, to fund the missionary program, to provide operating funds for the church, to pay for outstanding educational institutions, to fund an enormous world-wide humanitarian effort, and many other worthy and important causes. Further, we believe that the president of the church is a prophet of God, called to represent him to us on earth, and that he and the others who decide how tithing funds are spent do it with divine guidance. We have no reservations about how sacred tithing funds are spent.
“From a financial standpoint, do you realize how much tithing is costing you? Just think of how much faster you would reach your goal if that 10% went toward your debt!”
Honestly, we don’t even consider what other things our tithing money could go toward. We could easily calculate it, but we have never considered not paying tithing. We pay tithing first, even if it means that things will be tight. Even if the remaining 90% of our income did not cover our expenses, we would still pay our tithing. Paying tithing is a test of faith. While some would argue that our family can’t afford to pay tithing, we would counter that we can’t afford not to pay tithing.
I Get It
I totally get that people with different beliefs see our willingness to give away 10% of our income as absurd. I get that paying tithing while in debt might seem outrageous to some. That’s completely okay. You don’t have to agree with us. We can still be friends. 🙂 I just wanted to give you the inside scoop as to why tithing will always be a part of our budget, even when we’ve got a relatively low income and high debt.