4 Reasons to Give While Paying Off Debt

Bible and Money Money tips and help for christians

 
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As I was responding to a reader question on a previous blog post, I realized that the response would probably be beneficial to highlight for all of us, not just to bury it in a comment on an older post.

I’ll catch you up on the dialogue.

A reader was asking about my thoughts on having a mortgage.  She lived very frugally and sacrificed in order to pay off her mortgage early.  Now she said that she’s in a position to give.  She admits to not giving during the time she was trying to pay off the house.

I responded by saying:

Having a mortgage is better than having many other kinds of debt, but having a mortgage is not better than having a paid off home.

We decided to pay off our mortgage as quickly as possible, but we were also committed to giving throughout that process. Personally, I’d suggest that a person prayerfully consider doing both (giving and making extra payments) instead of only choosing one or the other.

A second reader followed up asking:
The last comment had me thinking about something…one course of action my wife and I have considered recently, though have yet to implement, is to cut our giving in order to double our debt payments. The intent being that we could more than halve the time spent paying to debt, and more quickly increase our giving, to higher levels.

It seems as though you disagree with this approach, and I was hoping you might be able to elaborate.
Note: As I respond, please understand that I’m addressing these topics and situations, but not addressing either of these specific readers.
This question is actually very similar to the question should I give while paying off debt?  However, it’s a question I’m often asked, so let’s give it some more attention.

4 Reasons to Give While Paying Off Debt

1.  God is not a mathematician. 

God wants our hearts more than he wants our money.  Giving is a healthy Christian habit (yes, habits can be good) where we turn our hearts to him. I could probably give 50% more over my lifetime if I invested everything I could be giving now and then gave it all when I died. The problem is that I’d miss out on the heart transformation that should be happening every time I give.  Sure, God’s Kingdom might have more dollars, but my heart missed out on valuable learning opportunities.  More hearts are a greater resource to the Kingdom than are more dollars.

2.  Cutting giving is often just the low hanging fruit. 

I say this out of the deepest love.  When you’re considering cutting your giving, are you really saying that there is absolutely nothing else to cut?  Look, I’m not a person to insist that God desires to burden you with a legal 10% requirement.  However, I’d never suggest a person to cut their giving unless it was an absolute last option.

Here are the questions I’d ask:

  • Have I cut my grocery budget to its absolute limit?  If I told another family how much I spend on groceries, would they say, “No way.  That’s impossible.”  If not, you probably have more to cut.
  • Have I declared a complete avoidance of all unnecessary purchases?  This means no more buying magazines, clothes, household decorations, and such until the debt it gone.
  • Have I downsized everything that can be downsized? The car? The house? The electronics?
  • Have I reduced my dining out budget to an absolute minimum?
  • Have I changed the habits that have caused my debt problem?

God has shown concern when his people live in luxury but don’t have anything to offer him (Haggai 1:3-4). Noticias sobre apple,mac, osx, iphone,ipad,apple watch, juegos para mac y appletv Todo sobre Apple, Mac e Iphone

It’s easy to say, “Let’s cut our giving.”  It’s hard to say, “Let’s be sure we’ve cut everything else.”

Look, I’m going to be pretty staunch on this.  I’m going to take the 1 Tim. 6:8 stand. If we have food and clothing, we should be content with that.  If you have food and clothing, then there should be something else to cut other than our giving.  However, if we are struggling with our food and clothing needs, then I believe you can consider cutting your giving.

Think about it this way.  What if the government increased taxes by 10% next year?  What would you do?  Would you find a way to make it work, or would you be homeless and desolate?  If you can find a way to make it work, then do that – find a way to make it work.

3.  Giving transforms our attitudes.

Giving draws our focus to our blessings.  Each time I give, I’m reminded of how much I’ve been blessed.  When we cut our giving, we switch gears.  We perceive ourselves as people in need instead of people in a position of blessing others.  Now, there are people in true and deep need.  The danger is if we categorize ourselves as such without having ensured that we’ve cut every unnecessary expense first.  Often times, our life situations are more about how we perceive our situation than the actual situation itself.

4.  Giving transforms our relationships with people.

We like to be around generous people.  Givers are selfless people who help when there are needs.  They may help with their wisdom, with their time, or with their money.  Those who give are more likely to be blessed (even in terms of secular research) because we build positive business and personal relationships with people who are givers.

Conclusion:

Those are some of the reasons why I wouldn’t, if at all possible, cut my giving in order to get out of debt.  To be more clear, my wife and I have always given at least 10% of our income ever since we’ve been married.  In fact, I think I’ve always given at least 10% of every paycheck I’ve ever received.

During my senior year of college, my wife and I were just married.  I didn’t have legal working status in the States for about 9 months after we were married.  Those first nine months were hard.  We were both full time students.  Our only income was from work study programs offered through  the school. (Legally that was the only way I could work.)  We lived in an apartment that cost $275 per month.  We couldn’t even control our own heat.  Sometimes it would be blistering cold, and at other times, it was sweltering hot.  We’d make homemade pizza (a tradition we’ve now had for almost 13 years).  However, back in those days, we’d put corn on our pizza because we couldn’t afford any meat.  One day on a walk we found a piece of furniture someone put out for the dump. We took it home. We had food and clothing, so we were content with that.  We always found a way to give.

I’m grateful and thankful that we did, and if I could turn the clock back, I wouldn’t change that.  It put us in a place where God was able to surprise us with his provision. God always provides.

If you haven’t explored other ways to pay off your debtor faster, I wouldn’t risk giving up all the blessings of giving just to get out of debt more quickly.

Thoughts?

Other Great Articles:

  1. Dave Ramsey Debt Snowball: Paying Off Debt Spreadsheet
  2. 4 Christ-Honoring Reasons You May Need to Give Less
  3. Debt and the Opportunity Costs of Not Paying it Off

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