“We can’t afford to give that much,” my new husband emphatically stated.
“We have to!!” I argued back.
“Why?” Ken simply said.
“Because it’s the right thing to do!” I counteracted forcefully.
“Says who?” my husband, a younger believer, said sincerely.
“Well, I’m pretty sure, it says so in the Bible……” my voice trailed off as I realized that I had no idea where the Bible said anything about tithing at all.
So, the church girl didn’t know the Bible well enough to give a clear answer to a new believer of only a few years, as to why Christians should tithe. I’d like to tell you that I searched the Scriptures and continued our discussion with scriptures like Malachi 3. Mark 12 and Luke 11 but I didn’t. We simply didn’t tithe for about a year.
This argument occurred while Ken was attending seminary to become a pastor. We were both preparing to lead in ministry and disciple people. Troubling piece of irony, that.
During the year of our disobedience, we made big bucks working as wait staff in a high-end restaurant. No matter how great our tips were though, we struggled to pay bills. We couldn’t understand how our money disappeared.
One day, in Ken’s chapel service, a professor shared a devotional on tithing. Ken declared we would begin to tithe ten percent immediately. He’s that kind of guy. When he understands truth, he walks in it wholeheartedly. Within a month our budget balanced. Even when I quit waitressing for a music therapist job, which paid less, we met our budget.
With this month’s theme of sowing and reaping, I cannot leave this topic without asking you to consider your tithing practices. The Bible is clear that misers or grumpy givers should not expect generous harvests. Many folks in ministry and leadership are underpaid. It’s tempting to back off from giving and justify that by pointing out that you’re already investing your time and energy. Hey, I get it! We were in SEMINARY and justified our disobedience with “we’re just struggling grad school students.”
Many, many Christians, even leaders, do not faithfully tithe. How do I know this? How many churches do you know with a financial surplus? How many churches do you know who are forced to underpay their staff and struggle to meet budget?
Some Christians who do tithe, do it grudgingly. There’s no joy in writing the check, filling out the online form or placing money in the plate. Others give God a tip each Sunday instead of a planned tithe. They flip out a bill or two that has little to no relationship to their income and toss ‘er in the plate. Check that off the spiritual to do list. Not.
So, here’s a little checklist I made up based on specific Scriptures. If Christ isn’t Lord over your money, then He isn’t Lord over your heart either. Your permanent citizenship is still in heaven but you are not living in the fullness of “your kingdom come, your will be done here on earth as in heaven,” if your relationship with God and money is akimbo.
I give ten percent of my income to my local church. Genesis 28:20, Leviticus 27:30-34, Numbers 18, Matthew 23:23 My opinion, based on these and other Scriptures, is that the tithe belongs to the local church and offerings may be given elsewhere at your discretion.
I set my tithe apart before I pay other bills. This is the principle of the first fruits, giving God the first and best of what we have, not the leftovers. Exodus 13:11-13 Your monthly tithe amount should be number one before you sort out the rest of your expenses for that pay period. Listen, we’ve lived for many years on commission checks that go up and down, whereas our bills remain fixed. The tithing principles we acquired years ago are now so firmly fixed in place we don’t consider that ten percent as negotiable in any way but we understand the temptation very well.
I look forward to giving my tithe and do it with joy. 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 When we first started understanding they whys behind tithing and acknowledged our disobedience (ignorance of the the Scriptures is no excuse) we gave somewhat out of fear. We didn’t want to be out from under God’s favor and blessings. We still don’t but nowadays our giving comes from love and joy. We recognize that every breath we take comes from Him and everything around us belongs to Him. We are merely His stewards, managing His resources generously given to us.
So, what kind of giver are you? Seldom does a group rise above its leaders. Whatever you demonstrate in the generosity of your giving will be reproduced in some way in all who are underneath you. Sobering thought, right?