Here’s a question. While working feverishly to dump your debt, does it make sense to give money to charitable causes? In a word, Yes! I have two trains of thought on the subject. Let’s discuss.
We continuously budgeted our tithe throughout the debt elimination process. When speaking of the tithe (or 10%), from a Christian perspective, we are talking about a process of giving as directed by God. I do believe tithing is more about trust and obedience than the actual dollar amount. There are actually two schools of thought on Christian giving. We follow the old school, make that Old Testament, model:
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.
Malachi 3:10 (NIV)
The New Testament will not be outdone. Giving is definitely encouraged, just not in specific quantities:
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 (NIV)
Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.
1 Corinthians 16:1-2 (NIV)
We can have a theological discussion about the political correctness of tithing vs. free will giving another time. I only point out the scriptural implications of giving, because the bible has so much to say about money and debt. So far, I find none that suggest a pause in giving while removing the chains of debt.
In short, from a spiritual perspective, we gave – even through debt repayment – because the bible tells me so.
Non Spiritual Perspective
I think giving helps you connect to the community or world around you. Giving also helps you refocus any materialistic tendencies on meeting the needs of others. Whether you support cultural, civic, or need-based initiatives, giving – even during debt repayment – creates an awareness of the world you might otherwise miss. That grounding might just help to keep you focused during the twist and trials of a trying debt dumping effort. The less debt we serviced, the more we were able to give.
The best answer I’ve heard so far about why to give while in debt: Someone gave to you in some way, shape or form. You didn’t arrive on your own. Giving is your opportunity to pay it forward.
What say you? Does giving while in debt seem reasonable?