Tuesday, March 2, 2010

All the Reasons Not to Tithe

One of the lessons I've learned over the past couple years, the importance of tithing regularly and consistently. Prior to learning this lesson, though, we had a number of reasons excuses to NOT write a cheque every pay day.

Excuse #1 - We can't afford to give money to the church.

Looking back, I can see a number of things that we were able to "afford" that were not necessities. We managed to eat out with regularity. We had cable. We were able to "purchase" new furniture (on credit, of course). I believe that we all truly CAN afford to give money to the church and/or other important Christian causes; it's just a matter of choosing our priorities.

Excuse #2 - We will start to tithe when we CAN afford it.

For years, we told ourselves (and God) this one! But what exactly does it mean to be able to afford something? For tithing, it seems to mean that we have enough extra cash on hand at the end of the month to give. Interestingly, deciding to "afford" other things is as easy as being approved for a store credit card and promising to pay it later. Being able to "afford" to pay for entertainment is as simple as paying for it when we want it and sorting out what other area gets less next week.

It's like saying, "We'll have a baby when the time is right." Is there ever a truly right time? Are we ever the right age? Established enough in our work? Do we ever have enough of a nest egg in the bank? Perhaps there are some situations where it's actually wiser to not waste time waiting for the right time.

Excuse #3 - God wants us to pay our bills and put food on our table, so He understands why we can't donate our grocery money.

True, God wants us to pay our bills. (Matthew 22:21) But make no mistake about it - when we withhold money from the Lord, He does NOT understand! When we choose not to give back to God from what He has given to us, we are stealing from Him. (Malachi 3:8, Acts 5:1-10)

Excuse #4 - The church is just after my money anyway; they're getting rich off all of our contributions.

I suppose a couple bad televangelists ruined it for churches everywhere... The fact is that the local church CANNOT operate without our regular giving. Our giving pays the (modest) salaries of the pastoral staff, it pays the heat and electricity, it helps keep our preachers learning and growing, it funds our ministries. We are willing to pay to go to the gym, for our kids to go to school, to live in our houses. Why then, should we not be willing to pay for the privilege of attending our churches? Not that the church charges us to attend - but shouldn't we be willing?

Excuse #5 - My spouse doesn't believe in tithing.

First and foremost, I believe that God calls us to honour our husbands. So if he is against giving money to the church, we need to respect his wishes. That said, if we feel called by God to tithe, we need to get creative! Give by bringing snacks for Sunday school, by purchasing a couple extra Bible study books to give to other women, get a sponsor child (or two), volunteer.

Here's the short version of our story...

I wanted to tithe (specifically - as in, give 10% of our pay to the church). Pat grew up believing that the church was after money, so he wasn't fond of the idea. I used his reluctance as an excuse to give nothing.

Later, we both wanted to tithe, but we had managed to get ourselves deeply into debt. There wasn't enough money to pay the bills and keep the creditors from calling, let alone to just "give it away." I had a fancy budget spreadsheet with a bright, glaring, red -$800.00 at the bottom of every month. Whenever there was extra, we wrote a cheque for the offering. But $100.00 here and there just didn't feel right. In our hearts, we really wanted to tithe regularly; we simply could not see how that would be possible.

A strange and miraculous thing happened. A couple who we barely knew approached us one day and handed us a fuel card. I'm sure you're thinking what I was, "Oh, how nice. A gift card." Nu-uh - it was a credit card for fuel. They felt that God had called them to pay for our vehicle's gas for the next year! For the record, I think it's important to note that they were not a family of exceptional means. They were a larger-than-average family with a relatively average income, carrying an average mortgage and vehicle payment of their own. It was as though God said, "See! If you want to tithe, just do. They are doing it. You can do it, too. Trust Me."

Because of the generosity and obedience of that family, we made a choice to start giving back to God first, paying the bills next, and using the remainder for us. We also made the choice that - when we feel that tug inside telling us to give something to someone - we will do so immediately, without looking at the bank account balance first.

I won't lie to you and say that it has been easy or perfect. There have been months where I've been required to shop for groceries with creativity and faith. We have had to wait and save up to get new glasses. Many times we have told the kids that they must wait for something they want until the next pay day (or the next month, or the next birthday).

Yet we have not suffered. In those tight months, God provided for us through anonymous grocery gift cards, unexpected funds deposited in our account, and a million other "coincidental" ways. He has not only provided, but poured out financial blessings. God used this move to bring us one step closer to freedom from the yoke of creditors (yet keeps things tight enough to keep us from becoming prideful). He has given us opportunities to be a blessing in the lives of others, as that family was to us.

And for the record, the bottom of my fancy budget spreadsheet no longer shows a red minus sign, but a beautiful black zero. Every single month, even when unexpected expenses crop up.

(I promise you, this really was the short version of the story!)

So if you have reasons excuses about why you are not tithing, don't bring them to me. Our family is a living proof argument against every single one of them!

If you are curious how God can use you, work through you, and bless you through giving generously, check out The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn.


  1. Amen and amen. God spoke to me on this issue many years ago when I was on Social Assistance and a single parent. Although we all encounter financial difficulties from time to time, He has proved Himself faithful every step of the way.

  2. Excellant post! My husband has always insisted on tithing 10% first, before anything else every month. I was reluctant at first, but now it is a habit, and I have been amazed by how God always provides.

  3. A-MEN!! Well said, as usual. The whole post was fantastic, but my favorite line was the one about the beautiful black zero!! Praise the Lord!

  4. Good for you for writing on this subject! When we first started attending church I was all about tithing, but my husband was not ready. I sold Avon and gave my tithe from my earnings, served when I could, and prayed God would show us we could do it. He did, and it was awesome to see all the ways things met ends! Rebates in the mail we didn't even knew were coming - a promotion for hubby's job! God says, "test me in this" - and we did! He does not disappoint!

  5. I desperately want to get into this habit, I just don't know how to break the cycle. Every week we are short money to buy food and gas. We can never "catch up" we can never "Keep up". I'm at my wits end. I don't know what to do.


I am so glad you stopped by! My hope is that we can engage in a conversation together. I love to reply to your comments, but I need your help to make that happen.

If you have a blogger profile, would you consider editing your profile to "show my email address?" Then, when I receive your comment in my email inbox, I can reply directly to you.

Alternately, you can check the box "email follow up comments to..." so that I can reply to you right here. (You will also receive other readers' comments using this method.)

I'm excited to get to know you better!