A recent news release from GoBankingRates.com considers the question of how Christians should handle their tithe when in financial difficulty.

Pay your debt first

One view says to get your debt out of the way.

Paul Sisolak, a contributor to GoBankingRates said, “In the event of true financial crisis, your primary obligation is getting your finances in order. The quicker you can make this happen, the faster you’ll be able to fulfill your 10 percent tithing commitment.”

Sisolak said, “If debt, bankruptcy or the risk of losing your assets truly stand in the way of keeping a roof over your head, charitable donating is just not possible.”

The site offers alternatives to the traditional 10 percent:

VOLUNTEER: This can be to a charitable organization, your church or other places.

DONATE GOODS: Items you no longer use can help others when passed on. Canned good are inexpensive, but can add up when combined with donations from others.

ATTEND SERVICES: Even when unable to give financially, give to God by being present in worship.

Tithe is first

Dave Ramsey, whose Financial Peace University classes are taught through churches in the area, is a proponent of the tithe.

On his website he said, “If you cannot live off 90% of your income, then you cannot live off 100%.”

He encourages people to find other places to cut back.

“The Bible does not mention anything about ‘pausing’ tithing. Neither does it say that we will go to hell if we do not tithe,” Ramsay said.

“The tithe, which is a scriptural mandate, was not instituted for God’s benefit ... So why does He ask us to give 10% to Him? Tithing was created for our benefit. It is to teach us how to keep God first in our lives and how to be unselfish people. Unselfish people make better husbands, wives, friends, relatives, employees and employers. ...

“Many people have observed that after they stopped tithing, their finances seemed to get worse. “

What do you think?

Have you experienced financial troubles where you had to make choices about your tithe? What did you do? What financial or spiritual lessons have you learned through giving or not giving?

In a brief description, less than one page, let me know. Please tell me your name, where you live and give me a way to contact you if I have questions.

I may publish some answers in later columns.

Source: news release, http://www.gobankingrates.com/savings-account/easter-church-tithing-empty-savings-account/, http://www.daveramsey.com/

Contact Leila Pitchford-English at lenglish@theadvocate.com or P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.