Our campus pastor challenged us to be more open with our giving stories. I think this was a mini-ploy to help him convince the members of our church tithing was a good thing, but it still caused me to reflect back over my giving journey.
To begin, I have to give my parents major credit for this area of my life. They have always modeled giving for us. Even when things got tough, the church always got 10%. My mom raised us to believe if we wanted something, we just needed to pray about it. I will admit, this may not always be the best parenting strategy, but on the flip side, I have seen clothes and groceries show up on our doorstep, bills mysteriously get paid, and opportunities open up that from a human standpoint simply should not have. They raised me to be generous and to remember I own nothing, God owns everything.
As I grew up and began to manage my own finances, despite all their teaching, I struggled in this area. Not because I doubted the importance of tithing, but because I spent a good bit of time traveling to developing countries and didn’t want my money going to pay electric bills when there were starving children to feed. (yes, I actually thought that) So for a period in my life, I sponsored a few children, supported some missionary friends, and belonged to a collective tithing group. We tithed a portion of our money to the group and used it to meet tangible needs the group brought to the table. It was actually an incredible thing to be part of and although at times our tithes went to pay electric bills, they were earmarked for the broken, hurting people in our lives. I learned about the importance of being in relationship and maintained the practice of giving even as I wrestled with tithing to an actual church.
When I got my first “real” adult job, I also started attending my current church. At the beginning I was not a regular giver, but I did give occasionally because you were supposed to give to your church right? Then I started getting involved and I saw the integrity behind the finances being entrusted to my church. First off, they give 10% of all their income away. Period. Even in the tough times. Second, I can assure you, no one is getting rich off my dollar. And at the end of the day, electric bills do have to get paid so the church can continue to reach those who desperately need Jesus. As my husband and I started dating and got married, we both decided tithing was going to be a non-negotiable. Thanks to online giving, which makes it super easy, we allocate our money each month first to God. Is it always easy? No way. Some months, I would really like to have those few extra dollars. But has it blessed our life? In ways I cannot even recount.
I know, sometimes life is tough and finances are tight and you can’t give as much as you might like. But let me encourage you to start somewhere. The more you give, the more you are trusting God to provide and the less you are relying on your paycheck. As that happens, God can take all the glory when crazy cool things happen like your electric getting paid or the money stretching a little farther this month. He also gets the glory when rough times come and the car breaks down again and the baby is sick and the bills are mounting. When we trust our finances to Him and walk in the principle of generosity, something changes. Is it always a walk in the park? Nope, but I believe with everything in me, no matter what happens, giving is a reminder we are not in control.
Perhaps one of my favorite verses is Malachi 3:10, “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.” I can assure you, we are not rich in the world’s eyes. Nor do we have all the newest, fanciest stuff. But I can tell you, our marriage is stronger, our faith is stronger, and our lives are truly different because we have been faithful.