I don’t make enough to give a tenth of my income and still pay my debts. What should I do?


I have a question about giving. I know that we don't tithe in the Lord's church, but why are ministers still preaching that we have to give more than the Old Testament Israelites gave because we are under better circumstances?  At the moment I can't afford to give 10% of my earnings because I have sinned and gotten myself into debt. I am constantly praying and asking God to help me with this situation so I can give better. I have sat down and figured out that it will take me 2 to 3 years to overcome this credit card debt. I am afraid that I will end up losing my soul if I don't give the correct among I should be giving to the Lord each Lord's day. I did read your comment on giving, even though there is no set amount are we to give more than the Israelites? More than a 10th? Please help me with this.


The idea of giving more than 10% comes from a misapplication of one of Jesus' statements. "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:20). The verse before gives the context: "Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:19). Jesus is discussing the necessity of keeping the law, even though it would be changing in the not too distant future. In Matthew 5:20 Jesus is stating that unless a person did a better job at keeping the law than the scribes and Pharisees, he would not be able to enter the church (the kingdom of heaven).

That would be a shocking thought to his audience because the scribes and Pharisees were thought to be the most zealous law-keepers in all of Israel. But as we go through the gospels we realize that most of their apparent religious actions were mostly show and the keeping of traditions rather than the actual keeping of the law (Matthew 6:1-8; 15:1-9; 22:1-33).

Therefore, Jesus is not teaching that people must do more than God required of them -- to claim such would be adding to the law.

What the New Testament teaches is that we are to give a portion of our prosperity. "On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come" (I Corinthians 16:2). That is not a portion of our gross earnings. God is looking for people to give because they want to give, the actual amount is not fixed. "For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have" (II Corinthians 8:12).

So give a portion of what God has given to you according to what you have. Don't take this as an encouragement to overspend such that you don't have a spare dime to your name and therefore have nothing to give to the Lord. In all things, the Lord should come first (Matthew 6:33). But your financial mess came before you learned better. You are working to keep your word by paying off your debt. What you have left to live on, give a portion of that to the Lord that you can happily give. "So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver" (II Corinthians 9:7).

Some people are not content with this vague definition and what to an amount. For those people, I point out that the Israelites gave 10% of their profits (and again it wasn't the gross earnings). If they want a rough guideline, then that should give them a rough start.

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