"Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the first fruits of all your increase, so your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine." (Proverbs 3:9-10)
I've highlighted the word increase because it is often overlooked in this scripture when used in teachings on the concept of tithes and offerings. If you're struggling with finances, how to pay your living expenses and unexpected expenses that can't be avoided, then I want to encourage you with this post. If your necessary bills add up to more than you make each month, you are NOT in increase each time you get paid. You are in lack.
I'm not referring to bad choices such as credit card debt that COULD have been avoided, multiple vehicles you don't need, excessive vacations you shouldn't have taken, shopping addictions, etc. Anyone can spend themselves into debt. I'm referring to job loss, cuts in pay, medical expenses, increases in the cost of gas and insurance with years of no pay raise--things you need and circumstances you couldn't help.
Don't buy into the guilt ridden deception that Satan often uses to cause you to further your debt through tithes and offerings you aren't meant to pay in this season of your life. The sad part about this is the fact that the devil will use the church and well-respected ministry leaders to plant seeds of guilt. God loves you unconditionally. He isn't going to make you tithe your rent or mortgage payment as an act of faith in order to bring you a bigger blessing. He will bless you because He loves you. He knows you have signed an agreement--a covenant to pay that bill. God will never expect you to break one covenant to honor another.
"Owe no one anything except to love one another." (Romans 13:8)
If you are in lack, who is it better to owe? Mankind who has no mercy? Or God who's mercies are new each morning? His covenant with you cannot be broken since it was bought, purchased, and paid for by the blood of Christ--forever! God owns all of it, no matter who's bank account it sits in, whether in your bank, your bill collector, or your church. He owns it all. If God wants that money, the gates of hell won't stop Him, because it is already His.
If you're in increase, by all means, tithe and give offerings to your heart's content since this is your season of prosperity. It doesn't matter if you tithe on your gross or net. I believe that is between you and God. Allow Him to lead you.
Don't ever tithe and give offerings in lack because you've been bullied and/or manipulated into doing so. Instead, you should be concentrating and praying for a way out of your debt/lack to break the cycle of poverty on your back. Make wise choices that lead to good stewardship. When you are back in increase, begin tithing again as God leads you.