When Money is Tight Should You Pay Tithes or Buy Groceries?
By: Katie Jones
Guest Contributing Writer
There are times in our lives where we may run into a big fork in the road. As faithful Christians, we believe that we should be giving generously to the church. However, we may come across hard times where our income is little and our bills seem like too much.
Financial distress is very real and many people have experienced it. It may put you in a position where you are asking, “Should I pay tithes or buy groceries?”
Tithing is Not Necessary for Our Salvation
Through our faith in Jesus, we receive God’s grace and forgiveness. And it is through that grace by faith that we are reconciled with God.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Because our salvation is not technically dependent on our actions, it is not actually necessary for us to tithe.
Why Should We Tithe?
If you are put in the position of choosing to pay tithes or buy groceries and choose groceries, your salvation is not in jeopardy.
However, we need to remember that our money us truly not our own. Everything in this world belongs to God and that means our money as well. He happily gives us money to steward and allows us to decide what we do with it on our own.
So even though our salvation is not dependent on tithing, God loves to see those who give cheerfully and not out of a sense of duty.
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)
Tithing is not just another bill to add onto our laundry list of things to pay. Tithing is a reflection of the posture of our hearts towards God.
The reason we give is to show our gratitude for the things God has provided us with. When we give cheerfully we also bring glory to his name.
Do you really think that God needs our money? He is, after all, all powerful, and in reality, he doesn’t need your money or my money to do anything. But he is giving us the chance to express our love and deepen our faith in Him through our giving.
God Calls Us to Have Extreme Faith
Tithing gives us the chance to deepen our faith. I do believe that God calls us to have extreme faith in him through our most difficult seasons. If you are in a season of financial distress, God may be calling you to trust him with all that you have left in your bank account.
There are plenty of great stories on having faith in finances. I urge you to seek those out and hear how others have been called to have great faith in God’s provision. You will find countless times where God took care of his people even in the midst of financial distress.
However, all of our situations will be different when it comes to money. Not everyone will be called to do things like giving up groceries.
So how do you determine if God is calling you to pay tithes or buy groceries?
Pray About Your Finances
The way to determine if God is calling you to pay tithes or buy groceries is to pray about it. Consult the Lord and hear what he has to say about your current situation.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
God asks us to pray without ceasing. He wants us to pray about everything in our lives and ultimately give it all to him. This includes our finances.
Pray and listen to God to figure out what he is asking you to do with your money. If he is calling you to give to the church and skip out on groceries for the week then you should faithfully obey. This is an opportunity for you to honor God with your money.
Example Prayer for Finances:
Lord, I know that you always have my best interest in mind and I know that you hold my future in your hands. I admit that I tend to try to handle my finances all on my own. But from here on out, I trust you with my finances and give that area of my life to you. Right now, I am struggling with whether I should pay tithes or buy groceries. God, please speak to me and help me understand your will with this decision. I want to honor you with how I handle my money, even if this means making a decision I may not be comfortable with right away. Amen.
Our Reward For Following God’s Call
Here is something that I suggest you think about… If the issue of paying tithes or buying groceries is nagging at you so much, then God may be calling you to take an extreme leap of faith. Perhaps you need to consider that He may be asking you to do something way outside of your comfort zone.
When we are obedient to God’s will in our lives he rewards us. Now, our reward may not be something physical here on earth (though he can do that too). We are definitely promised to be rewarded in heaven.
God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” (Romans 2:6)
However, as Christians, we don’t just give to get. The point isn’t to give more so we can get more. The point is to show our utmost trust in him, through all circumstances.
And even though we don’t give to get, God often blesses us with more when we are responsible with our spending and cheerfully give.
Make Room for Tithing AND Groceries
Tithing is a deeply rewarding spiritual discipline. The Bible gives many examples of how tithing can be very rewarding. However, paying for your groceries is also rewarding in the sense that you will not go hungry!
So before you decide to pay for your groceries, your debt, your bills, or whatever, instead of paying tithes let’s do one other thing first.
Take a look at your budget. Is there an area that you may be overspending in? Is there something that you could cut back on or even cut out in order to free up some money? Figure out what things you can stop paying for all together.
This might require canceling things like Netflix or reducing your fun money. But let me tell you a secret. Cutting back on those things and then giving that money away will be way more fulfilling than continuing to binge watch Friends on the weekends.
Financial Distress is Temporary
If you are currently walking through this season of financial distress, I want to remind you of something very important.
Your situation is temporary. Regardless of how overwhelming it may seem right now, God’s promises go far beyond the here and now. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it is done with the Lord’s help and guidance. That goes for every situation in life, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
As you walk through times of strain and distress, lean further into God’s word. Let him be your strength to pull you through.
God Desires Financial Peace in Your Life
Above all, God wants for you to rely on him. However, this doesn’t mean that you can just sit back and wait for a big check to magically come in the mail (though I do not discredit that God can and has done that for others). Having financial peace means working to get your finances in order.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as if working for the Lord and not man. (Colossians 3:23)
Work at building financial health in your life as a way to glorify God. It is a way to show good stewardship over the things he has blessed you with.
You don’t have to be a millionaire or make a ton of money to have financial peace. It is something you can work diligently at, and with the help of our Lord, you can achieve it.
God does want the best for you. But sometimes his best may look very different from what we envision for ourselves. We are just asked to trust him through it all. I urge you to pray about your current financial situation and seek the Lord’s will with all of your heart.
What Have You Done When The Choice Has Been Pay Tithes or Buy Groceries?
Katie lives in Denver, Colorado where she enjoys drinking coffee and playing board games, as well as exploring the Rocky Mountains with her husband. She has a passion for learning and teaching about innovative ways to implement our faith into our work. Katie writes on topics surrounding real estate, entrepreneurship, and finances all from a faith-based perspective. Check out the Free Savings Sheets on her website as well as other financial resources.