I am a hairstylist and I work for a franchise-owned hair-cutting salon chain. The pay is only $9.00 per hour and I get some tips (not a lot, though). I’m struggling financially and don’t make enough to support myself.
How does God want us to tithe? Does He want us to give away our tithe money right away, such as the same day as soon as it is in our hands? Or should it be put into a checking account and a check written and mailed to a ministry or charity on the same day that we get a paycheck?
I know that God has to come first in everything and of course that includes tithing. But I’m not sure how to come up with a good foolproof system to tithe that would please God. What would you advise?
— Claire, Massachusetts
Thanks for your question, Claire. This is something that many people ponder when the issue of tithing comes up.
First of all, let me commend you for your heart of obedience in this area. It’s no small thing to give away 10% of your income, especially when you’re having a tough time making ends meet. The fact that you have the desire to obey scripture and tithe says a lot about your faith in God to provide for your needs.
Where to Tithe
We also believe that in today’s model of spiritual community, which is based on the early church in the New Testament, that tithing is intended primarily as a way of funding our home church congregations. Quite simply, tithing makes church happen: Without faithful givers, our local churches wouldn’t be able to maintain their facilities, pay pastors or fund community outreach.
So my first answer to your question is that you should tithe to your local church. If you belong to a good church in your community, you have some responsibility for helping to keep it financially healthy. You fulfill that obligation by tithing regularly to the church.
If you aren’t a member of a solid local church, I’m afraid that this talk of tithing is putting the cart before the horse. God commands us to live in fellowship with one another through the vehicle of the church. If you’re not connected to a church, you’re missing out on a lot that fellow believers have to add to your life, and you’re robbing those same people of the wisdom and encouragement that you could be giving to them.
We also believe that financial giving is a great thing to do, and a big part of how God wants us to handle our money. It’s great that you’re interested in sending money to ministries or charitable organizations. But we believe that these gifts are in addition to the tithe to the local church — they don’t replace tithing. If you want to give to a ministry organization, that should be a gift that comes out of your abundance. You shouldn’t withhold the tithe to your local church because you’re giving to an outside organization instead. On the other hand, you probably don’t have the money to do a lot of extra outside giving right now, anyway.
When to Tithe
Now to your question of when to tithe: The Bible doesn’t specifically address timing issues when it comes to the tithe, so there’s not a strict rule in scripture to refer to. Instead, we each have to figure out the tithing schedule that makes the most sense in our own lives.
I know many people that make a point of writing out their tithe check as soon as they get paid. This helps them to follow through on the idea of giving to God first, before they do anything else with their money. I think this is a pretty good way to go, because it makes a priority of the tithe and helps you to avoid the temptation of spending that 10% elsewhere.
There are other ways to tithe, though. If you have a thorough, well organized monthly budget, you probably have a good idea of how much money you’ll have coming in every month, and when it will be coming. A good budget should have a tithe built into it. So if you know how much your tithe will be every month, you can schedule that gift whenever it’s convenient for you.
Some people like writing a tithe check at church every week; others plan it just to coincide with their pay periods. Laura and I actually just write one check for the entire month, because the amount of our tithe is built into our budget, and it’s easier and more convenient to write one check every month than to make multiple payments.
Fixing the Income Issue
Before we go, I do want to address one other thing that you brought up: You’re having trouble making ends meet at your $9/hour job, and I don’t blame you: Anybody would have difficulty tithing and making their other financial obligations at such a low wage. I don’t believe that God means to burden you with the tithe. Instead, I believe that He wants to bless your faithfulness with more income.
So part of what you need to think about in your life and financial planning is how to get your income up. I’m familiar with the budget haircut chains that you’re talking about, but I also know that there are self-employed stylists working in independent salons that make quite a bit more money than the hourly rate you get now. If you enjoy the work you’re doing, perhaps you should consider making the move to one of these full-service salons where your income could easily double.
I hope that helps, Claire. God bless you!
Photo by Watashiwani. Used under Creative Commons License.