HAHA! Cute cartoon. 🙂 OK, so this is an edited version of an email I sent to a friend a while back about tithing. It is the result of much conversation, prayer, and study. Sign me up to preach it, baby! 😉 Well, not really. So take a deep breath… here we go!!!
BTW – Come to Solid Rock church in Tigard this Sunday, September 12, where Randy Alcorn is teaching from his book The Treasure Principle. It is one of many good resources on this topic.
People have different views about tithing. Some people do it because they think they’re supposed to or it’s just “what Christians DO.” Others think it’s outdated or “old covenant” and that 10% is such an arbitrary number anyway. Some are so caught up in the (often valid) cynicism with the church/money thing and are suspicious about any church or pastor who talks about money, especially tithing, from the pulpit. But when you strip away all those excuses, usually those people just need to get over it and realize it’s not about them and not even really about the church they’re tithing to (although you should tithe to a church that has proven financial integrity). I know that about those people, because I was one of them.
I think I tithed once before Aaron and I got married. I didn’t know anything about it and didn’t really “get” it. I smirked whenever a pastor talked about it and knowingly rolled my eyes. That all changed after I married a godly man who was really passionate about the Lord. Through my husband, God taught me about what it means to lay it all out on the line for the One you love the most.
A few years ago, we decided to really focus and create a working budget to help us reach our goals. For us, that started with tithing. We took a serious look at the Biblical basis for tithing and offering and what that meant for our lives and our own obedience to God. Really, the bottom line is that we wanted to be blessed! Yes, we wanted to honor God and not hold too tightly to the money He’s given us for now, and we wanted God to use our money to bless others. All that was good and important to us. But the biggest thing for us was that God said this:
“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 you will not have room enough for it.”
Malachi 3:10-11 (emphasis mine)
So we’re like, OK GOD! We’ll give it a shot. Because at the time we were coming up short every month and not really going anywhere financially. We had been tithing, but it wasn’t up to 10% and we were pretty much just doing it because we thought we were supposed to. We decided what our tithe amount would be and just paid it all at the beginning of the month with one check. As we were led, we gave extra to the church or outside causes as offerings. Of course, our time and energy were offerings as well (if we did them with the right heart and not just to look good… you know what I’m saying).
Very soon we felt God’s blessing and began to see it in tangible ways. Every month we ended up with what we needed to make it all work, and many times it was obvious God was cutting us slack so we could do it. A gift, an unexpected refund, a random discount or freebie, and sometimes just unexplainable excess… So pretty soon were so excited we took another look to see if we could one up God, so to speak. Aaron had the idea that we could possibly tithe on our gross income instead of our net. That was a lot more! It was scary, but we did it, and God blessed us even MORE. Then we got a wild hair and decided to tithe as if we were making more than we actually were! Aaron picked the amount that he would like to be making and started tithing on that. Again, God blessed us more!
I could probably give you a zillion examples of HOW He blessed. I think it was only partially financial. Even when we didn’t “win” financially, or were having a particularly tight time, we were given a peace, security, and an inner satisfaction that was not easily shaken. It was stronger than before. Our obedience and boldness in this area began infecting other parts of our lives. We found ourselves more easily surrendering to Him and following His lead in all our activities and decisions.
Tithing is just a small part of all that. And we certainly receive great satisfaction from the simple act of giving to others and honoring God with our resources. From a financial perspective alone, however, all I can say is that we seem to have more money now than we did when we had two incomes. We manage it better, treat it more like the gift that it truly is, and when we’re short, God does the rest. Since doing this, we were able to get completely out of debt and actually buy a house – things we didn’t plan on being able to do for YEARS.
I know for sure it’s because of tithing and offering. Not because God needs our money. He doesn’t! Neither does the church! If God wants to bless our church, provide for a certain ministry, help out a certain family or person, or whatever, He will with or without us. But we GET to honor Him by turning back to Him the blessings He has given us. And He blesses us even more for it. We GET to allow God to use the money we’ve given back to Him to bless others. That blesses us even more. And even more wonderful than all of that, it has an eternal impact for us that we can only imagine. It’s a crazy wonderful process.
I’ll be honest though – it was HARD at first! It was hard not to have thoughts like “It’s so much money! If God doesn’t need it, He won’t miss it!” “We need it for x or y!” (There are times when it’s just not financially reasonable, but that’s rare, I think.) “We’ll do that… someday.” “Think of all things we could buy with that amount of money!” But once we realized the work God was doing on us – getting us to let go of “our” money and “our” stuff and cling to Him – and that He was getting ready to open the floodgates on us, we were fully on board!
TRUST me, there is nothing that we accomplished in this whole thing – it’s a very humbling experience to finally take a plunge like that and rely completely on God’s grace. It’s even more humbling when He actually pours it out on us. I wish I were more articulate and knowledgeable. I would become a tithing evangelist HAHA! It is such a perfect way for God to teach us about keeping our hands empty of the things of this world and instead raised up to Him in worship and praise, while fully expecting them to be filled up with the grace He has promised us in return. It spills over into every other part of life, and it’s beautiful, although sometimes scary.
Of course, how each family honors God with their money is between them and God. But I wanted to share that with you all as either an inspiration or an encouragement – whichever is most applicable. For all I know you do this and more and could probably tell me wonderful stories as well! But if you’re not so sure about it, I would recommend that one of these days you and your spouse simply talk and pray about it, really search the scriptures about it, find some good books, and talk to whomever you look to for guidance on such things. Then decide what is most perfect for you and your family at this season of your lives.
May God richly bless you as you follow Him.