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Should I Tithe Or Pay My Bills?

The Bible is clear that God expects Christians to pay their bills when it is in their power to do so. To do otherwise is theft and undermines our representation of Christ. That is why the Bible speaks so harshly of people who do not pay their bills:

The wicked borrows and does not pay back, but the righteous is gracious and gives.

Psalm 37:21

The person who deliberately puts off paying his bills after God has provided funds is wicked. There may be another way to put it. But God uses the word wicked.

This means as soon as God provides funds, we should first pay our bills before non-essential purchases and donating money to church.

Understandably, pastors strongly disagree with this. For many of them build their ministries by convincing Christians that the modern financial tithe system is of God. They need their followers to believe the first ten percent of their income is a divine bill that must be paid (to them) before other bills are paid.

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The person who deliberately puts off paying his bills after God has provided funds is wicked. There may be another way to put it. But God uses the word wicked.

The fear is that if saints are allowed to pay their non-tithe bills first, there will be less left over for the church. If I am honest, I must agree this is exactly what will happen. For lack of law and threats tend to bring out the worst in human flesh, whether saint or sinner.

Nonetheless, no pastor has a right to create a fundraising scheme and to put God’s name on it just because he finds it difficult or impossible to serve God without the ability to extort money from God’s servants. He needs to take the harder route of living close to God and obeying the Holy Spirit.

This being said, I want to speak very clearly to saints who are being told they should put off their own bills to pay for the bills of the church.

Tithing Is Not More Important Than Paying Your Bills

Are you in need? Do you have pressing bills that must be paid? Are you wondering where in the world is God in your financial difficulty? Are you wondering what to do with the little money you have? Here are some suggestions. 

Sacrifice and Give the Church What Little You Have

First, you can do what the preachers tell you. You can sacrifice and give them what little you have. If the Lord wants you to do this (not because of them, but in spite of them), you will be blessed. 

However, this does not mean you will necessarily get a miraculous answer to prayer. Actually, things can and probably will go from bad to worse. Giving to God is not a business transaction; it is a love transaction. Your sacrificial gift will in no way obligate God or some spiritual force to meet your need according to your expectations or schedule. 

Of course, you will certainly be rewarded by Almighty God on Judgment Day for your sacrificial gift. You may even receive some blessing from God before then because of that gift. The tricky part is you don’t know what that blessing is or when it will show up.

Now if you still want to give the preacher your bill money, you can. But at least do so with your eyes wide open and with the full knowledge that you’re on a walking safari. You should not be surprised if a lion of financial reality jumps out of the bushes and bites you in the behind.

Obey God and Pay Your Bills–First

Second, you can obey God. You can pay your bills first and donate to the church from the remainder. 

This will probably cause your preacher and maybe even your friends to condemn you. That’s okay. The people whom Jesus helped by supposedly violating the Sabbath when He healed them were condemned also.[1]

God would much rather you pay your bills than for you to satisfy the religious spirits that control your preacher and friends. If you give in to their pressure, you will suffer the consequences of a fool. 

Conversely, if you pay your bills, you will be immediately blessed by God. The blessing? Paid bills and relief from economic bondage to a debtor.

Now let me give you a word of caution. Some people may accuse you of the following:

  • Having no faith.
  • Failing to support the work of God.
  • Loving God less than you should.

And all because you pay your bills before paying the church’s bills. 

Do not be moved by any of these accusations. This is how the spirit of legalism reacts to liberty. It hates freedom and will do almost anything to bring you into bondage. You must resist the urge to worship the opinions of people.

To assist you, I’ll close this article with brief rebuttals of each of the above accusations.

Does Paying My Bills Before Tithing Mean I Have No Faith In God?

This accusation comes from the false doctrine of the modern tithe system. In that system, you are obligated by God to give ten percent of your income to the religious organization we call the church before you do anything else. This is done even if it gets your car repossessed. 

Supposedly this shows the preachers of this doctrine that you have faith. However, since the system is totally man-made and is denounced by God, their approval of this so-called faith means nothing to God.

Actually, the act of giving money to the church shows neither faith nor lack of faith. One can give money to the church and have faith in God or no faith in God. 

We assume that a person has faith in God when the person gives money to the church, but this is an assumption based upon a false standard. Only God knows if the giver has faith. We judge the outward appearance, but God judges the heart.[2]

Paying Your Bills Before Giving Away Money Is God’s Wisdom

Truthfully, paying your bills before giving away your money is God’s wisdom. The Bible says,

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel [unbeliever].

1 Timothy 6:8

What Kind of God Requires Foolish Judgment?

What kind of God would require people to give away their money to a religious bureaucracy, even a good one, before paying their personal bills? The world looks at this kind of behavior as the madness it is. It is foolish irresponsibility disguised as a command of God.

Do you really believe this kind of insane behavior will attract the world to Christ? What’s attractive about a deity who has more in common with the IRS than Jesus Christ? 

Will your children be inspired to believe in the God who forces their parents to give away their school clothes money or their college education fund to the church? Is that the message you want to give your children? That God cares more about their money than their well-being?

Ask yourself how much sense it makes to give away $300 to the church organization and then later wonder why you have no money to replace your car’s bald tires? 

I can answer that one. Your new tires are in the offering plate. You can’t blame God for not meeting your need. He met your need when He originally gave you the $300 that you sincerely, but foolishly gave away.

This modern tithe system is unmerciful and foolish.  Stop giving away your bill money.

Does Paying My Bills Before Tithing Mean I Don’t Support God’s Work?

Tithe pastors see themselves as God’s chief executive officers, and the rest of us as assets to be used to make their spiritual dreams come true. I know this sounds harsh, but the collective words and behavior of tithe preachers prove this is so. 

Pastors will rarely admit this in public, but many of them believe they have a special place with God above the rest of the body of Christ. And with this special place comes special privileges. Why do I say this? For two reasons.

Pastors Often See Themselves As Bosses of the Body of Christ

First, pastors generally believe the worldwide church is organized by God into a hierarchy. 

The Holy Trinity is at the top of the spiritual organizational chart, then comes the pastor, and beneath the pastor are the rest of us. When God wants to do something, He speaks to the pastor who speaks to the people. Or at least in many places this is how the fiction goes.

Pastors Claim Exclusive Rights Over the Tithe

Second, pastors claim exclusive ownership of the modern tithe

This is done primarily because they believe God rules the body of Christ through them. They are like protestant popes without the fancy hats. God directs all of His activities through His number one confidants, the pastors. 

Obviously it costs money to perform the things God desires; so He gives the pastors sole right to collect and manage the tithe. This way they can pay themselves secret salaries and benefits, hire staff, purchase and maintain buildings, pay special guest speakers, go on trips, and what’s left over they can use for other “ministry.”

Now you must understand that your pastor will probably see you paying your bills first as a threat to his perceived special place and privilege in the church. If people’s immediate needs are given too much priority, what will happen to the work of the ministry? What will happen to his salary?   

Pastors Usually Don’t See Your Financial Well-Being As God’s Work

The sad thing is that few ministers see the immediate needs of the would-be giver as the work of the ministry. Such mundane things like single moms living in bad neighborhoods, families with inadequate health insurance, and elderly people with very low incomes are not nearly as glamorous as television ministries or overseas missions. 

So what do you do with this information? It’s very simple. You understand that most pastors labor under a self-imposed false burden of super-importance. 

They see themselves as the spiritual employer and us as the spiritual employees. They give the orders; we obey the orders. This is the product of tradition and not the Holy Spirit.  

You look this tradition humbly, but squarely in the eye and recognize that the compassion of Christ may make your immediate need at least as important as any the preacher presents you.[3] 

It may be important for the church to pave the parking lot or to build a fellowship hall or to increase the pastor’s salary or to send money overseas. But it is also important for you to get your car fixed so that you aren’t fired from your job when you have no transportation to get to work. 

For trust me when I tell you this: When you lose your job, that pastor who convinced you to sacrificially give your way into a crisis is not going to take responsibility for your crisis. You may not even get a return phone call.

I know, I know, paying your bills don’t seem as spiritual as parading to the front of a church service to publicly give money, but it is.[4]

Does Paying My Bills Before Tithing Mean I Don’t Love God?

Actually, the Bible says, “If you love Me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). One of those commandments is to provide for your family.

We looked at one of them earlier:

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 

1 Timothy 5:8
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There is another passage, however, that is not as well-known as this command to take care of our family. Yet it goes into the heart of giving money to the church to the point that it causes us not to fulfill family obligations.

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions. And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 

“But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. 

Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

Mark 7:8-13

The religious leaders of the day had a practice of neglecting the command to financially support their needy parents by saying the money was already dedicated to God. Jesus clearly condemned the practice and considered it putting traditions above the word of God.

Is Tithing More Important Than Your Family?

Similarly, the modern financial tithe is one hundred percent a human creation, and thus its practice is a tradition of man and not a command of God. So paying the tithe bill at the expense of your personal obligations, whether family obligations or personal debt, is wrong.

Providing for one’s own family is fundamental to true Christianity. Failure to do it reveals a character deficiency so severe it is classified as denying the faith. 

The denial of “faith” is not necessarily a conscious rejection of Christ as Lord and Savior, although it could include this.  But here the focus is on behavior that contradicts your words and loudly declares you are a hypocrite.

“I love God, but neglect my bills and family.”

So perhaps our original question should’ve been, “How can I say, ‘I love God,’ when I pay my tithes and I don’t pay my bills or take care of my family?

Similar Articles

  1. What Are Tithes In The Bible?
  2. Who Created The Financial Tithe?
  3. Did Jesus Teach Tithing?
  4. Did People Tithe Before The Law?
  5. Does The New Testament Teach Tithing?

[1] See Matthew 12:1-14; John 5:1-16; 9:1-34.

[2] See 1 Samuel 16:7; Luke 18:9-14. The Pharisees paid tithes and gave offerings; yet Jesus regularly denounced them in the strongest terms.

[3] This assumes the need presented to you isn’t an emergency request to help an individual with the necessities of life (e.g., utility bills, shelter, clothes, transportation, etc.), and it assumes your own bills are paid.   

[4] Naaman the leper almost forfeited his healing because he expected God to do something spectacular to affect the healing. But God chose a very mundane and ordinary thing. He told the man to dip in the river seven times and he would be healed. Not very dramatic, but it got the job done. Don’t miss the Spirit by focusing on the spectacular.  (2 Kings 5:1-14).

Eric M Hill

Eric M Hill is an author, blogger, YouTuber, and Bible teacher. He has written sixteen books. He is a member of the Authors Guild and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

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