“If you really want to wound a man, hit him in the pocketbook!”
The term “tithing” has a way of making a lot of people uncomfortable. Just talking about finances is considered tacky. It’s either shrugged off as a practice reserved for the religious or it can make someone feel judged. But as business owners having gone through the process of giving away zilch to faithfully committing 10% of all our gross income, we have experienced the gambit of emotions that accompany parting ways with our hard-earned profits.
I remember when we first began attending church regularly and before each sermon there would be a call to tithe, that is to give 10% of your income to the church. For a long while, we felt this didn’t apply to us and we would be satisfied donating $5 or $10 into the offering basket, having accomplished our good deed of giving. But the more we attended, the more we began hearing sermons on the importance of tithing, which began peaking my curiosity. I was under the impression that practice was done away with and reserved for the Old Testament as an old law. How relevant was it today, anyway? And certainly God would not expect us to just give away hundreds of dollars of our income each month; how could we live?!
God is so patient. He tells us in Malachi to test Him in our giving:
“‘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
So in part faith and part curiosity, we started to write larger tithe checks made out to our local church. They were not 10% of our income, and they were not regular. But the funny thing is that we always seemed to have just enough at the end of each pay, when before we usually fell short before Friday. This did not go unnoticed. In larger (and more dangerous) faith, we gave more and worked our way up to regular giving of 10% of our net income. It’s a scary place to be when you first begin to release those funds and are forced to trust God at His word. It takes a few wins under your belt to start believing He will supply everything you need, especially when the numbers don’t add up. Even still I sometimes struggle with letting go of that much money, but I do it anyway because I don’t want money to rule me. I do not put my trust in money, my trust lies with God. When something dictates your actions, it has become your master. How sad it is to live one’s life chasing after more and never being content? So I let it go and that keeps my hope on God, not in my ability to manage finances. If you aren’t watchful of your heart, man-made cotton paper can become an idol that cannot preserve your life.
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” -1 Timothy 6:17-19.
I used to think this verse applied to wealthy celebrities until I heard my pastor state that if you make over $50k/year, you are in the top 1% of income earners in the world! Convicted. I guess my family is “those who are rich in this present world” the Bible was referring to.
“Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.” -Ecclesiastes 5:10
“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” -Matthew 6:24
Speaking of the heart, we have to examine from time to time what comes out of our own, for actions come out of the heart. People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. But if your heart is not right, it will cause things to be loved and people to be used. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” -1 Timothy 6:10. Notice it’s the love of money that’s the problem, not money itself.
It is more blessed to give than to receive. If for no other reason, than to keep your heart right. Generosity increases happiness and I thank God He revealed this law of physics to me early in life. We decided our money was going to be a tool used to fight injustices in the world. When we made that decision, God showed us that His church extends beyond the local building we were tithing into. His church encompasses all the believers of the world in Christ and our finances should go toward relieving poverty and freeing the oppressed victims of slavery and human trafficking.
As scary as it is to extend an unclenched fist, I challenge you to examine how your heart’s relationship is with money. Can you give up 10% of your income? We came into this world with nothing after all, and we’ll leave with nothing. You might as well make it work for you rather than work for it. Start to tithe small like we did, God will honor that. Then don’t be afraid to make a difference by increasing the amount you give as you see it working. As for us, I hope to be able to give away everything that’s not nailed down so God can keep pouring in enormous blessings we won’t have room enough to store.
“There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.” -Proverbs 11:24-25