I confess. Even with our small family of three, I was one of those women who always knew exactly when vegetables, pasta, sauce, chicken (and so on) was going on sale and I would fill our pantry and freezer that week to overflowing. Every week something was on sale, so it looked like Armageddon was right around the corner and we were prepared. Preparation is a good thing, right?
It was in the midst of what we fondly call our 'testimony gathering time', when Scott wasn't living at home and I had become the sole provider for our home, that God spoke to me frequently about my control issues in our marriage. It started with the pantry and freezer. God started speaking to my heart...after all, with an overflowing pantry and freezer, was I truly relying on Him for provision or was I relying on my compulsive overstocking? During my prayer time, God reminded me that He knew when I needed what I needed, and He would provide. It was tough to resist the urge to keep the pantry overflowing. Even with just my son and I living at home, it was a challenge to allow our food supplies to dwindle to just a few cabinets. Living on a reduced budget was an adjustment, but the bigger adjustment was releasing the control...and then, my pastor spoke boldly about tithing. *sigh*
Really, God? My husband has left, our household income has been cut in half, and now You want me to give You the first 10%??
The answer was simply, "Yes." Followed by "live with your hands open." The simple principles my pastor taught were new to me and life changing...and really scary for someone who thought she was in control of everything.
Simple principles of tithing we learned:
#1 Acknowledge God's Ownership: That's pretty simple, right? Straight from Psalm 24:1- The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness of it, the world and they who dwell in it. When we give back 10% of what He's given us, we're acknowledging that it's all from Him.
#2 Obey God: God calls us to return to Him the first 10% of what He's provided us. Jesus says repeatedly if we love God we will obey Him. When we tithe, we are being obedient and telling God we love Him.
#3 Trust God: If you've never tithed, it can be scary initially, regardless of the amount. There's power in inviting God into the challenges you may face living on the 90% you've kept. When you tithe, you are telling God that you trust Him to have 'your back' when you put Him first. When you don't tithe, you're telling God you don't need Him and you don't trust Him to take care of you. I love what He says in Luke 6:38: Give, and you will receive. You will be given much. Pressed down, shaken together, and running over, it will spill into your lap. The way you give to others is the way God will give to you.
#4 Grow with God: Tithing and managing your money God's way is foundational. Jesus tells us that in Luke 16:11: If you cannot be trusted with worldly riches, then who will trust you with true riches? Start with tithing and build your faith from there!
#5 Belong to God's Church: When you tithe to your church, you are pouring and investing into the storehouse that blesses your family and community. It's important to give your tithes to your church home as you're invested there with more than your money, but with your time, friendships, and service. What you choose to give beyond your tithe to other ministries (like Intentionally Yours, FamilyLife, soup kitchens, etc.) is an offering above your tithe.
#6 Build the Storehouse: When you tithe to your local church, you're helping to provide for those who are in a time of need. Look around you and you'll easily see that these are desperate times for many people. It only takes one catastrophic event in our lives for us to be in that place of desperation too. Where would you turn for help if you were in a time of need? If you needed to feed your family? To keep the lights on? God calls us to bring our tithe to the "storehouse" so that during tough times, we'll have a place to go too.
#7 Test God: That's right, you've probably heard it before, but it's only in tithing where God challenges you to test Him, the Creator of the universe. It's right there in Malachi 3:10: Bring to the storehouse a full tenth of what you earn so there will be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord All-Powerful. “I will open the windows of heaven for you and pour out all the blessings you need."
He challenges us to begin tithing and to see if he won’t meet our needs and bless our lives. So, back in 2005, in my recently found obedience to God and a desire to pursue Him at all costs, I boldly wrote that first tithe check on my income. It was the check I wrote before my mortgage, electric bill, phone bill, cable bill...even before I went grocery shopping, I wrote that tithe check. And I prayed over that tithe check, that God would do abundantly more with that 10% I was returning to Him than I could do with the 90% I kept. It was a BIG step of faith.
And God met me with every step of faith I took. As I sowed that 10% (of the gross amount- ouch!) each paycheck, I reaped even more as I trust our Creator and Provider with our needs. During the weeks I didn't think we'd have enough for groceries, someone sent us a gift card or a check. God knows our needs and He fulfills them when we invite Him in. Have we had financial troubles since then? Sure, mostly our own doing. And we fully believe that God doesn't protect us from what He will perfect us through, so we thank Him for using our mistakes to make us more Christlike. We trust Him.
Fortunately, when Scott returned to the marriage, he returned saved and with labrador retriever enthusiasm to obey God. So when I explained tithing, he was on board. What do you do if your spouse DOESN'T agree with tithing? We'll talk about that next week.
Pay tribute to the Eternal in all of your affairs. Honor Him with the best of what you make. That way you will prosper to the fullest and have plenty of food to eat and wine to drink. -Proverbs 3:9-10
Great getaways to get to know God and learn to trust Him:
Intentionally Yours is a 501(c)3 (pending) organization committed to sharing God's truth, hope and vision for marriage until every home is a godly home. Will you partner with us in this mission? Thank you for your support!