Should I get out of debt first before I give generously? (I’m not speaking of tithing, which I know is non-negotiable, but of extra giving.)
First, I commend you for raising the question. While getting out of debt is a high biblical priority it is as much a wisdom issue as a righteousness one, and requires discernment and good strategy not just a single act of obedience. Laying up your treasures in heaven is a command, and giving to extend the gospel and feed the hungry and free the enslaved is required and expected of us by God. In my mind, as important as debt reduction is, it is not and cannot be as important as giving to God’s kingdom. My recommendation would be first to give generously and sacrificially to the Lord’s work.
If you can also reduce your debt, all the better. Debt reduction will ultimately put you in a better place to give, but it’s too easy to rationalize that way and postpone giving indefinitely, which inhibits rather than develops a generous spirit. Money we put into anything on earth, including houses and lands (including reducing our debt on them), is subject to loss. Money put into God’s hands today is never lost. That’s my bottom line answer.
For more information on the subject of money and possessions, see Randy Alcorn’s books Money, Possessions & Eternity and The Treasure Principle.
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Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.