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We Are Tithing But Can’t Get Out of Debt. – Pam

“Dear Steve,

I was a full time homemaker for approx seven years and we were caring for an ill parent – we have a home equity loan up to about 90K, no other mortgage, and cc debt of about 35K. I returned to work about a year ago, but nothing seems to be changing! Total monthly income is about $5000 and expenses about $5000! We tithe about 800/month and childcare/after school is approx 460.

Should we try for a cc consolidation? We’re not really using them now -this is old debt from before I went back to work – except if something major comes up… I feel like we need help getting on track-we thought the home equity loan would help, but that just made things worse- we used the money to fix up the house (1964) and buy a used minivan and pay off other cc debt. We are both college educated, but I’m starting to feel money stupid.

Pam”

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The Answer

Dear Pam,

Obviously you are tithing because you feel a spiritual need to do so. It is not my place to tell you not to do that. Consider if there are other ways you can help support your church without just handing them money. Can you tithe by actions or deeds to help reduce the financial burden? I’ve watched others do that successfully. For example, one past client was so wracked with guilt that he could not afford to tithe that he stopped going to church. I asked him to talk to his church to see what he could do instead and they said they would be happy to accept his mowing the grass instead of tithing cash.

The issue here is that while you’ve returned to work and your income went up, so did your expenses and probably your tithing as well. So in essence not much changed.

This cycle of just being able to make ends meet is more likely to leave you exposed for taking on more debt and digging a deeper hole. Treading water financially just means that when the next unexpected surprise happens or you just need a family treat, it will add to your balances due.

Your experience with the home equity loan is typical. It seems to be a pattern of borrowing, consolidating, and running debt back up that sinks most people.

Ultimately only you can find that right answer that makes the most sense for you. But I ask that you consider these points.

  1. Your children only get one childhood and do you want to be one of living on the financial edge?
  2. Does your God want you to tithe first or be a good steward of your money first?
  3. Is bankruptcy against your beliefs even though it is biblically rooted (Read “Is Bankruptcy Scriptural” in this post.) and leaves you safer moving forward?

I think the right decision will come down to a balance between what you believe spiritually and what is safer for your family moving forward. That solution probably involves bankruptcy to discharge the credit card debt, allow you to keep tithing and start to save to protect yourself from living on the edge.

You can click here to find a local bankruptcy attorney and if you’d like a second opinion about your situation or a personal consultation by another debt coach, please feel free to contact Damon Day.

Please update me on your progress by posting updates here in the comments section of your question. I’m very interested in how this works out for you.

Big Hug!

We Are Tithing But Cant Get Out of Debt.   Pam
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About Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode
Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
  • Robertplattbell

    Stop tithing. That money doesn’t go to God, and you can’t buy your way to heaven. Pay off your debts, get yourself in a good place, so you can AFFORD to do good deeds with your money.

    God will understand. He wants you to be kind to yourself. You have a social obligation to take care of yourself before you run off to help others. Otherwise, you are just adding to the ranks of the destitute.

    Pay off those debts – at $800 a month, you can do that in no time. THEN go help the needy.

  • Robertplattbell

    Stop tithing. That money doesn’t go to God, and you can’t buy your way to heaven. Pay off your debts, get yourself in a good place, so you can AFFORD to do good deeds with your money.

    God will understand. He wants you to be kind to yourself. You have a social obligation to take care of yourself before you run off to help others. Otherwise, you are just adding to the ranks of the destitute.

    Pay off those debts – at $800 a month, you can do that in no time. THEN go help the needy.

  • Steve Rhode

    Since we are pasting stuff in I thought I’d paste this although I linked to it in the article. Just trying to keep this discussion all in one place.

    Is Bankruptcy Scriptural

    What does the Bible say?

    Many Christians feel guilty about seeking to file for bankruptcy protection. They feel guilty because they ran up large debts on their credit cards and now are unable to pay back the money to their creditors. Some Christians feel bad that their creditors will not be paid. Others have heard that the Bible condemns bankruptcy. Yet before we begin, it is important for us to define what is meant by the term “bankruptcy”; then, we can critically examine what the Bible tells us.

    In the United States of America, our founding fathers recognized the importance of bankruptcy. In the U.S. Constitution, they provided our government with the right to make bankruptcy laws. The bankruptcy laws and procedures we have today, instituted by our federal government, provide relief for overburdened debtors. Persons/entities who are over-their-head in debt can get a fresh start. Normally, a bankruptcy will discharge the debtor’s obligation to repay some or all debts.

    Bankruptcy contemplates the “forgiveness” of debt. The Bible, likewise, contains debt forgiveness laws. Under U.S. law, a debtor may only receive a discharge of debts in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy once every eight (8) years. Under Biblical law, the release of debts came at the end of seven (7) years.

    “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts. And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called the LORD’s release” (Deuteronomy 15:1-2).

    The Bible refers to debt as a type of bondage: “…the borrower is a slave to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7). Thus, the debtor is a slave to the creditor. Interestingly, the Bible declares, at the end of the sixth year:

    “…in the seventh year you shall let [your Hebrew slave] go free from you. And when you send him away free from you, you shall not let him go away emptyhanded; but you shall supply him liberally from your flock…” (Deuteronomy 15:12-14).

    Modern bankruptcy laws, like the Biblical provision above, allow debtors to keep certain property when they file bankruptcy. This gives debtors a fresh start and discourages debtors from going into debt-bondage again, after the bankruptcy is over, in order to survive.

    Jesus taught us that sin is a type of spiritual debt. Jesus also taught us to ask God to “forgive us our debts [sins] as we forgive our debtors [those who sin against us]” (Matthew 6:12, Luke 11:4). Sin creates a spiritual debt. Borrowing produces a financial debt. Regarding our spiritual debt, the law of justice declares: “the wages of sin is death [separation from God]” (Romans 6:23a). However, the law of grace and mercy states that “the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23b). Jesus paid for our debt of sin on the cross, a debt too big for us to pay.

    Likewise, economically, the law of justice states that if you agree to borrow money and repay the debt, you must pay back such debt. The law of mercy, on the other hand, states that if you cannot pay the debt back, you may, through bankruptcy, obtain forgiveness for your obligation.

    As with any act of mercy, someone must bear the cost or the burden, just as Jesus did in dying for our sins. With bankruptcy, the creditor and ultimately the consumers must, in mercy, bear the burden of the unpaid debt, but God said He will bless us for such acts of forgiveness and mercy (Deuteronomy 15:5,10,18).

    Jesus, in two (2) parables, used the illustration of forgiveness of a financial debt to teach about God’s forgiveness and the requirement that mankind forgive (see Matthew 18:21-35 and Luke 7:36-50). “And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both” (Luke 7:42). On a spiritual level, by the grace and mercy of God, Jesus gave us a “fresh start” by canceling all our “sin” debts through His suffering and death on the cross. On an economic level, our nation will graciously help overburdened debtors, if necessary, by giving them a fresh start economically.

    A guiding principle of U.S. bankruptcy law requires persons who file for bankruptcy to have “clean hands.” Accordingly, a debtor may not be freed from debts involving fraud, drunk driving, and deliberate wrongdoing. Moreover, bankruptcy law does not allow the discharge of child support and alimony debts. Further, most student loans, taxes (Romans 13:1,4,7) and secured loans are not forgiven in bankruptcy. Through these restrictions, bankruptcy laws seek to balance justice and equity (Proverbs 1:3).

    As with most biblical principles, there is a balance. If you can repay your debts, you must. If you cannot, then you should determine how God would have you freed from the bondage of debt. Our modern bankruptcy laws were derived from the Bible (Deuteronomy 15:1-2). Further, the Bible describes financial miracles (2 Kings 4:1-7). Ultimately, you must seek wisdom and guidance from God as to the direction He would have you choose. God promises to give such wisdom to those who ask with a trusting heart (James 1:5-7; Proverbs 3:5-6). Further, the Bible admonishes us to seek Godly counsel (Psalms 1:1; Proverbs 12:15, 11:14, 15:22).

    If you have mismanaged your finances, confess your failings to God now. You can receive, by faith, His forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:9). Remember, there is no condemnation or guilt to those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Jesus, by His love and mercy, gave us a fresh start, a new birth. Bankruptcy, based on the law of mercy with divine origins, if necessary, may provide you with a fresh start – a new and brighter economic outlook.

    Source: Matthew B. Tozer and Ben E. Lofstedt

  • Gary

    OLD TESTAMENT – THE FIRST OF THE FRUITS SHOULD GO TO GOD
    Proverbs 3:9 (KJV) “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:”

    NEW TESTAMENT – THE WORKER SHOULD BE FIRST TO RECEIVE A SHARE OF THE FRUIT
    2 Timothy 2:6 (KJV) “The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.”

    When was the last time you heard a pastor say that you should spend the FIRST part of your income on yourself and your family?

    1 Timothy 5:8 (KJV) “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”

    The New Testament makes it clear that we are to use the FIRST of our income to take care of ourselves and our family. We are talking about needs, here, not just anything we want. Then we should give generously from what is left.

    The New Testament teaches generous, sacrificial giving, from the heart, according to our means. For some, $1 might be a sacrifice, while for others, even giving 50% of their income might not induce a sacrifice. In the Old Testament, ONLY the farmers tithed, and it was equal percentage (a tenth). The New Testament teaches the principle of equal sacrifice instead of equal percentage. Equal sacrifice is much harder to achieve, if not impossible, than giving ten percent.

  • Gary

    OLD TESTAMENT – THE FIRST OF THE FRUITS SHOULD GO TO GOD
    Proverbs 3:9 (KJV) “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:”

    NEW TESTAMENT – THE WORKER SHOULD BE FIRST TO RECEIVE A SHARE OF THE FRUIT
    2 Timothy 2:6 (KJV) “The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.”

    When was the last time you heard a pastor say that you should spend the FIRST part of your income on yourself and your family?

    1 Timothy 5:8 (KJV) “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”

    The New Testament makes it clear that we are to use the FIRST of our income to take care of ourselves and our family. We are talking about needs, here, not just anything we want. Then we should give generously from what is left.

    The New Testament teaches generous, sacrificial giving, from the heart, according to our means. For some, $1 might be a sacrifice, while for others, even giving 50% of their income might not induce a sacrifice. In the Old Testament, ONLY the farmers tithed, and it was equal percentage (a tenth). The New Testament teaches the principle of equal sacrifice instead of equal percentage. Equal sacrifice is much harder to achieve, if not impossible, than giving ten percent.

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      Since we are pasting stuff in I thought I’d paste this although I linked to it in the article. Just trying to keep this discussion all in one place.

      Is Bankruptcy Scriptural

      What does the Bible say?

      Many Christians feel guilty about seeking to file for bankruptcy protection. They feel guilty because they ran up large debts on their credit cards and now are unable to pay back the money to their creditors. Some Christians feel bad that their creditors will not be paid. Others have heard that the Bible condemns bankruptcy. Yet before we begin, it is important for us to define what is meant by the term “bankruptcy”; then, we can critically examine what the Bible tells us.

      In the United States of America, our founding fathers recognized the importance of bankruptcy. In the U.S. Constitution, they provided our government with the right to make bankruptcy laws. The bankruptcy laws and procedures we have today, instituted by our federal government, provide relief for overburdened debtors. Persons/entities who are over-their-head in debt can get a fresh start. Normally, a bankruptcy will discharge the debtor’s obligation to repay some or all debts.

      Bankruptcy contemplates the “forgiveness” of debt. The Bible, likewise, contains debt forgiveness laws. Under U.S. law, a debtor may only receive a discharge of debts in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy once every eight (8) years. Under Biblical law, the release of debts came at the end of seven (7) years.

      “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts. And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called the LORD’s release” (Deuteronomy 15:1-2).

      The Bible refers to debt as a type of bondage: “…the borrower is a slave to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7). Thus, the debtor is a slave to the creditor. Interestingly, the Bible declares, at the end of the sixth year:

      “…in the seventh year you shall let [your Hebrew slave] go free from you. And when you send him away free from you, you shall not let him go away emptyhanded; but you shall supply him liberally from your flock…” (Deuteronomy 15:12-14).

      Modern bankruptcy laws, like the Biblical provision above, allow debtors to keep certain property when they file bankruptcy. This gives debtors a fresh start and discourages debtors from going into debt-bondage again, after the bankruptcy is over, in order to survive.

      Jesus taught us that sin is a type of spiritual debt. Jesus also taught us to ask God to “forgive us our debts [sins] as we forgive our debtors [those who sin against us]” (Matthew 6:12, Luke 11:4). Sin creates a spiritual debt. Borrowing produces a financial debt. Regarding our spiritual debt, the law of justice declares: “the wages of sin is death [separation from God]” (Romans 6:23a). However, the law of grace and mercy states that “the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23b). Jesus paid for our debt of sin on the cross, a debt too big for us to pay.

      Likewise, economically, the law of justice states that if you agree to borrow money and repay the debt, you must pay back such debt. The law of mercy, on the other hand, states that if you cannot pay the debt back, you may, through bankruptcy, obtain forgiveness for your obligation.

      As with any act of mercy, someone must bear the cost or the burden, just as Jesus did in dying for our sins. With bankruptcy, the creditor and ultimately the consumers must, in mercy, bear the burden of the unpaid debt, but God said He will bless us for such acts of forgiveness and mercy (Deuteronomy 15:5,10,18).

      Jesus, in two (2) parables, used the illustration of forgiveness of a financial debt to teach about God’s forgiveness and the requirement that mankind forgive (see Matthew 18:21-35 and Luke 7:36-50). “And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both” (Luke 7:42). On a spiritual level, by the grace and mercy of God, Jesus gave us a “fresh start” by canceling all our “sin” debts through His suffering and death on the cross. On an economic level, our nation will graciously help overburdened debtors, if necessary, by giving them a fresh start economically.

      A guiding principle of U.S. bankruptcy law requires persons who file for bankruptcy to have “clean hands.” Accordingly, a debtor may not be freed from debts involving fraud, drunk driving, and deliberate wrongdoing. Moreover, bankruptcy law does not allow the discharge of child support and alimony debts. Further, most student loans, taxes (Romans 13:1,4,7) and secured loans are not forgiven in bankruptcy. Through these restrictions, bankruptcy laws seek to balance justice and equity (Proverbs 1:3).

      As with most biblical principles, there is a balance. If you can repay your debts, you must. If you cannot, then you should determine how God would have you freed from the bondage of debt. Our modern bankruptcy laws were derived from the Bible (Deuteronomy 15:1-2). Further, the Bible describes financial miracles (2 Kings 4:1-7). Ultimately, you must seek wisdom and guidance from God as to the direction He would have you choose. God promises to give such wisdom to those who ask with a trusting heart (James 1:5-7; Proverbs 3:5-6). Further, the Bible admonishes us to seek Godly counsel (Psalms 1:1; Proverbs 12:15, 11:14, 15:22).

      If you have mismanaged your finances, confess your failings to God now. You can receive, by faith, His forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:9). Remember, there is no condemnation or guilt to those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Jesus, by His love and mercy, gave us a fresh start, a new birth. Bankruptcy, based on the law of mercy with divine origins, if necessary, may provide you with a fresh start – a new and brighter economic outlook.

      Source: Matthew B. Tozer and Ben E. Lofstedt

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