Should You Quit Tithing if You’re in Debt?

Debt and Tithing


If you’re in debt, is it alright not to tithe?

— Alwin, India


Thanks for your question, Alwin! It’s great to have readers in India, and great to have you asking important questions like this.

The short answer to your question is “No, it’s not alright to stop tithing if you’re in debt.”

I’ll explain this answer using two different approaches: first, a biblical approach, followed by a logical approach.

The Biblical Answer

The principle of tithing — giving 10 percent of your income to God — is first introduced in the Old Testament, and then confirmed by Jesus in the New Testament. Tithing is a command from God, but it comes with a promise of blessing if we’re faithful to obey.

There are some people who try to invent reasons why tithing doesn’t apply to us today (and those people will probably berate me in the comments section of this article). But they’re wrong.

Tithing is based on the principles that God owns everything, and that the money and things that we have are really just resources that He has given us to manage for Him. Because He owns everything, He has a right to ask us to set aside some of “our” money for the work of His kingdom. And because He gives us everything we need, we can trust His promises to bless us and provide for us in abundance if we are faithful to Him.

Now, to your question: It seems that you generally accept the commandment to tithe, but you’re asking whether extenuating circumstances like debt ever create a situation in which the commandment doesn’t apply.

If tithing is a principle that comes from scripture, it would take another principle from scripture to negate it or to create an exception to it — just like the only way for a government to repeal a law is with another law. But that second principle that you’re looking for doesn’t exist in scripture. The Bible doesn’t contradict itself, after all, and there’s no teaching in scripture that invalidates the teaching of the tithe.

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The Bible does have a few things to say about debt — usually warning us to stay away from it. But it never indicates that being in debt gives us a pass on other financial responsibilities.

Here’s another way to think about it: You wouldn’t claim that your debt releases you from your responsibility to feed your children, would you? Then why would we believe that debt releases us from our spiritual responsibilities?

The Logical Answer

There’s another way of approaching this question and arriving at the same answer, and that is through a simple logical exercise.

Tithing is a principle of good financial management — and part of God’s Master Plan for your money — that goes hand-in-hand with other wise financial behaviors. Debt, on the other hand, almost always comes from financial mistakes and unwise behavior.

When we’re ready to start paying off debt, what we’re really doing is slowly reversing the unwise decisions that we’ve made in the past. The best way to do that is to begin applying wisdom to your financial life.

So, if tithing is part of financial wisdom, and you need financial wisdom to solve the debt problem that you’ve created with foolishness, it follows that tithing should be part of your process.

If it’s not, you’re essentially saying that you’re going to fix one foolish decision by making another foolish decision. When have you ever seen that work?

Changing Hearts and Minds

Getting out of debt isn’t just a mathematical calculation — it’s a process that involves your heart, your mind and your soul. It’s usually undisciplined thinking that gets us into debt in the first place. Escaping debt requires you to discipline your heart and mind, and commit to long-term change.

The best way to get out of debt is to buy in to God’s way of handling money, and do it 100 percent. If you say “I’m going to do all of these other things, but not tithe until I’m out of debt,” you’re not really committing to God’s way of handling money. And if you’re not committed to His methods, you can’t count on seeing His results.

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Tithing is a sacrifice, for sure, but it’s the kind of sacrifice that benefits us in the end. Just like physical exercise requires us to sacrifice some energy now to gain long-term health and energy later, tithing is a spiritual and financial exercise that makes us more spiritually and financially healthy in the long run.

Your struggle against debt could be long and arduous, but don’t let one bad decision lead you to another. Trust God’s promise of provision, and then work as hard as you can to get out of debt and walk in financial freedom.


Photo by Steve Hankins. Used under Creative Commons License.


  One thought on “Should You Quit Tithing if You’re in Debt?

  1. December 21, 2013 at 12:12 am

    Brian & Laura,

    I’m glad I found your blog. This article is spot on and I enjoyed the content on your website.

    First and foremost, tithing/giving is worship. At his core, Jesus was the most generous person that ever lived.

    We should always strive for ways to give more, not less.

    Be blessed.

    Larry Poole

    • December 21, 2013 at 8:35 am

      Thanks for your thoughts, Larry! Glad to have you as a reader.

  2. April 28, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    When giving money to a religious organization, one can share any monetary amount one chooses; be it 1%,10%,or100%.

    The problem is not in the individual choosing himself how much money he will give to his religious organization, as 2 Corinthians 9:7 clearly instructs each man to give “as he purposeth in his heart”.

    The problem is when the giver is giving 10% of his money to the religious institution he attends because:

    a) Leviticus 27:30 says, “The tithe is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord.”
    b) Malachi 3:8-9 state that non tither’s are robbing God.
    c) Malachi 3:8-9 says non tither’s are cursed.
    d) Malachi 3:10 says to bring the tithe to the storeHouse
    e) Jesus said in the Gospels that tithing is to be done.
    f) The Preacher says that God requires us to tithe.

    Why are the above examples problematic? In examples a – e, one is attempting to tithe because of what is written in the Law, yet:

    1) they are not wanting to tithe what the LORD said His holy tithe was to consist of, i.e.; agricultural produce and livestock (Lev. 27:30-33)
    2) they are not wanting to tithe where the LORD said His holy tithe was to be taken, i.e.; farming communities in the land of Canaan (Deut. 6:1-3; 12:1,10-11)
    3) they are not wanting to tithe to whom the LORD said His holy tithe was to be given, i.e.; Levites, widows, orphans and foreigners (Num. 18:24-26; Deut. 14:28-29; Neh. 10:37-38)

    In other words, they are attempting to justify tithing by looking to the Mosaic Law, yet offending in several points of that Law. The Apostle James said that to offend in one point of the Law, is to be guilty of all.

    Why is example f above problematic? Aside from the obvious fact that the Preacher is lying when he says God requires us to tithe our money, it contradicts 2 Corinthians 9:7. It is another person dictating what you must give, instead of allowing you to choose what you will give.

    If the members of the Church would take the time to open their Bibles at home, and study every Scripture, every verse, that has anything to do with tithing, they would discover that God’s commanded tithe

    a) was agricultural (Lev. 27:30-33)
    b) was required of the Children of Israel (Lev.27:34)
    c) was not to be observed in any geographical location other than the land of Canaan (Deut. 6:1-3; 12:1,10-11)
    d) was to be given to Levites, widows, orphans and strangers in Canaan (Num. 18:24-26; Deut. 14:22-29)
    e) was never commanded of Gentile nations (Psa. 147:19-20)
    f) was not to be imposed upon Gentile Believers (Acts 15:5,10,19-20)
    g) was still agricultural in the last place it was seen as a command in the Bible (Heb. 7:5-9)
    h) was still the property of the sons of Levi in the last place it is seen as a command in the Bible (Heb. 7:5-9)

    Monetary tithe requirement teachers will often tell you that you are a thief if you do not tithe your monetary income to the local brick and mortar building that they refer to as The House of God.’.

    They will remind you that no thief will enter Heaven.

    This “Heaven” that they are attempting to get you to accompany them to cannot be Heaven at all.

    How can I say this? Because the Apostles will not be there, the Prophets will not be there, and the Patriarchs will not be there either. But the saddest reality of all, Jesus Christ Himself will not be there.

    Wait a minute! How can it be Heaven and Jesus Christ not be there?

    The fact is, they say those that do not tithe their monetary income, will not go to Heaven.

    If one were to copy the entire Old and New Testaments by hand; writing down every word, every line, every verse, every chapter, and every book, one would discover that God’s commanded tithe is agricultural, not monetary. One would also discover that there is no recorded instance where Patriarch, Prophet, Apostle, or even the Lord Jesus Christ Himself ever tithed their monetary income.

    So, if not tithing monetary income means one will not be in Heaven, then Heaven will be missing all the aforementioned people in the above paragraph. .

    Is it really Heaven these teachers are pointing us to? Not at all!

    Since God’s commanded tithe was agricultural and not monetary, they clearly have an agenda to keep you out of Heaven, not to get you in.

    Revelation 22:15 is clear,… Those who love and make lies will not be in God’s eternal Kingdom.

    How can God’s true Church be built upon a lie? It cannot. Upon Peter’s profession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, Jesus said, “Upon this Rock, I will build my Church.” The Truth is that Rock upon which the foundation is laid. The Apostles and Prophets are the foundation, and Jesus Christ is the cornerstone.

    A church built on the monetary tithe doctrine is built upon a lie. The monetary tithe requirement doctrine is a doctrine that cannot be found in the Bible, but the commandment was instead invented by men long after the Bible was given to man.

    It is a man-made commandment. Jesus Christ said of the Pharisees in Matthew 15:9, “But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

    Wake up, Saints! Do not yield to the monetary tithe requirement lie. Do not allow false prophets to deceive you into following them to Hell.

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