Why We Never Pay Ourselves First
Conventional wisdom tells us every time we receive a paycheck, we should always pay ourselves first. Personal finance gurus always make this claim because, in their estimation, wisdom dictates that you have to take care of yourself before you take care of anyone else. Traditionally, paying yourself first means opening up a savings or brokerage account and putting money aside to build wealth. It is, in fact, sound advice, but we’ve personal never followed that conventional line of thought.
In our home, we currently don’t, and never will, pay ourselves first. We graciously come second place every time. First place belongs to our local church. We pay our tithes the first thing off the bat, whenever we receive our income. We are Christians. We are followers of Jesus Christ, and that is what our faith dictates that we should do.
In the book of Proverbs, it states,
Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. (Proverbs 3:9-10)
God Owns It All
When I was 13 years old, I would sometimes have money from gifts or at times, my grandfather would give me a $20 bill. I knew that when I got that $20, $2 of it belonged to the Lord. I was very proud to put that in the offering basket and fill out the little church offering envelopes. That was the least that I could do because God owned it all anyway. He has told us that we are to tithe only 10% of our income even though 100% of it is His. We don’t pay our tithes, we give it back.
At the beginning, and subsequently throughout the duration of our marriage, tithing was a non-negotiable area. We didn’t even talk about it. It was just understood. Finances may have gotten difficult for us at times, but we still gave our tithes. We don’t pay our tithes to receive from God. We pay our tithes to be obedient to God.
We’ve done this during good financial times and in bad financial times. We started out our marriage with a very comfortable income because we were both working. However, those years of plenty were followed up by four straight years where our household income decreased. Despite that fact, we never felt one ounce of financial burden during those lean financial years. We know with a shadow of a doubt, that we didn’t feel the pressure or stress because we never stopped paying our tithes.
Giving is important to us. We’ve always felt that it was imperative to give to our church, and to give to charity, and through that become a blessing to other people.
Some people think that if they are in the midst of some financially difficult times, that tithing is somehow optional. We fear for anyone who carries that mindset during any point in their life. The hard truth is; we all have some type of leeway in our budget. If we are honest with ourselves, we all can tend to be a little wasteful with our finances at times. We somehow still seem to find a way to eat out or buy a few unnecessary items for ourselves, even when money is tight. We find numerous ways to use our money for things that we want while simultaneously we have no problem putting God on the backburner. That shouldn’t be the case.
Every time a paycheck gets deposited into our account, I immediately grab the checkbook and write out the check for tithes. If church is on Sunday, and we got paid on a Friday, I’m writing it down right away on a Friday.
Out of all the pages and the verses of the Bible, there’s only one time that God tells us to test him. In the book of Malachi, it states,
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)
We know that to be true from first-hand experience. There are so many blessings that come from our obedience to God with our money. We’re not talking just simply financial blessings, but spiritual ones as well. We’ve got to be better managers of what God has entrusted to us before that blessing and financial windfall will come our way.
A Good Investment
The Bible tells us that not tithing is similar to having a hole in your pocket. When you put money in, it keeps falling out. You can never hold on to it.
You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes! (Haggai 1:6)
This is what happens when you don’t give your tithes to the Lord. Sorry to break this to you, but you will never get back on top of your finances this way. You will never be in a secure place financially, and you will always feel like you have to struggle.
It has been bigger than any savings plan that we put in place. It’s better than any investment in the stock market. The best financial protection that our marriage has experienced is the favor of God.