And so we meet again, you and me. This is another one of those posts that has been on my heart to write for quite some time, but the truth is, I’ve been scared to. I’m just being totally honest with you. This post is scary for me to write.
Well, my reasons are essentially three-fold:
- Talking about money can be awkward
- Talking about Christianity be awkward
- Talking about money AND Christianity in the same post? Major awkward.
But, I’m being up-front with you about the inevitable uncomfortableness and I’m saying, “I’m okay with it.” So, if I’m okay with it, I hope you’re okay with it.
A few caveats / forewarnings / disclaimers up front: I am NOT an expert. I am NOT a member of any type of clergy. I am NOT perfect. I DON’T always get this right. I am NOT a know-it-all. I am NOT trying to scam you. I am NOT trying to make you feel guilty / put down / etc. if you don’t do the following or whathaveyou. This is an area of struggle for MANY people and I’m not pretending to have it all together, this is just my experience and this is what I believe.
Now that we’ve got that all out of the way, here’s a bit of my story.
I’ve mentioned before that I grew up “Catholic light” – and the truth is, I’d never even HEARD of the word “tithe” prior to becoming a Christian in 2010.
For those that don’t know what a tithe is, here’s the quick skinny: A tithe is, literally, a tenth or 10% of one’s income given back to God in the form of giving to the local church. So, for example, if you make $1,000 in a month, your tithe to the church would be $100.
And I left that sermon feeling totally confused, totally convicted, and totally curious. I mean, our pastor quoted from scriptures such as:
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. -Malachi 3:10
6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. -2 Corinthians 9:6-7
22 Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. 23 Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and olive oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always. -Deuteronomy 14:22-23
And I’m reading / hearing / seeing all these scriptures and there’s that still-small-voice within me saying over and over, “Test me. Test me in this. SEE if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and bless you.”
But then there’s that other voice… the voice of the enemy that spoke to me saying, “But you’re in debt. You can barely pay your rent. How on EARTH do you have the money to TITHE? You don’t. Don’t do it.”
So, I thought about it. I prayed about it. And I decided to kind of give it a try. So, in November 2010, I gave the church a check for $50. It wasn’t a full 10%, but it was a starting point. Remember, I was still in serious debt at this point and working a job that barely paid me enough to help me make ends meet. $50 was a TON of money to me.
I thought about it some more and prayed about it some more and my situation just wasn’t changing. I had been living in status quo for over two years and clearly doing things “my way” just wasn’t cutting it anymore.
And then, out of nowhere, I got a book, The Blessed Life, in the mail from our pastor. It was addressed to me and it had a personal hand-written note in it that said, “God put it on my heart to give you a copy of this book. I hope that it blesses you as much as it has blessed me, Molly.” I asked around – no one else in my friend group at church (who had given money to the church) had received a copy of this book. Not even John, who had paid his tithe at the same time I did.
So I read it. And the whole concept / idea of it all totally weirded me out. I mean, the book said things like, “Upon tithing and giving generously, I doubled my income in a year.” etc. etc. etc.
And no, this book was not some “get rich quick scheme” or anything like that. It was purely one man’s testimony of God’s blessings and His faithfulness.
But, something told me to just give it over to God. And so, I kind of had my own little “come-to-Jesus” meeting with myself and said, “Alright, Lord. I’ve been trying to do things my way for quite some time and they just aren’t working. So, I’m going to try it your way. I’m going to tithe. And I’m not going to question it and I’m not going to grumble about it. I’m going to tithe cheerfully.”
And so I did. I tested Him. I started by just tithing on my NET income (what I actually took home in my paycheck) in December 2010. The SECOND that paycheck hit my bank account, I wrote out a check (yes, a handwritten check) for exactly 10% of my take-home pay and I put it in the basket that Sunday at church. I didn’t know how I was going to find the space in my budget to tithe, but I was trusting that God was going to make it happen. I was trusting that He would provide. And provide He did – I was still able to eat, I was still able to pay my rent, it just all sort of worked out.
Now, I also had to sell some things to earn a little extra income that month, but I did it.
People thought I was crazy – they thought me giving money when I didn’t even have money to give was NUTS, but I did it anyway.
Then, in January 2011, I got my first bonus EVER at work. It was exactly 10% of what I took home on a monthly basis. Weird. So there was suddenly a little buffer room in my budget. But, I tithed 10% of that bonus.
Then, in April 2011, I decided to take it a step further, and I began tithing on GROSS instead of NET. So, I wrote out a check for 10% of what I made TOTAL (before taxes) – not what I actually took home.
I was going ALL IN.
On May 2nd, 2011? I got an even bigger bonus… in fact, a HUGE bonus. And a raise at my job (still making a seriously meager wage… but this was HUGE at that point). I was able to pay off a little bit more debt. And I realized the belt around my budget was feeling just a little bit looser.
Then I started going above and beyond my tithe. I started giving any chance I could – not because I felt like I had to, but because I WANTED to.
This was also the time that I decided I wanted to go on a mission trip to Kenya. I had NO IDEA how I was going to raise $3,500 to go, but I was going to make it happen.
Two weeks before I left for Kenya, I was exactly $1,000 short of what I needed to raise in order to go. I was panicking.
I was at a business lunch with someone and they were asking me about my upcoming trip. I hadn’t mentioned ANYTHING about needing further donations or the fact that I was in danger of not going. At the end of the lunch, they offered to donate $1,000 towards my trip.
It was the exact amount I needed. He did it again. He provided when I needed Him to.
Fast forward another month, I received an offer for a job… it was a job I was excited about, had a ton of growth potential, and seemed like a position that I would do really well in. I knew it would be a challenge, but I was ready to take it on.
The kicker? They were offering me a salary that was exactly… to the penny… double the salary I was making exactly one year prior to that.
When I looked at the official offer letter, that’s when I realized what was happening. And there it was, that still-small-voice in my head clear as day saying, “I told you if you tested Me that I would take care of you.”
I immediately sat down on the curb outside and broke down. I was wrecked.
And all of that helped to lead me to get out of debt much faster than I was originally scheduled to. It seems so counter-intuitive or counter-culture, but it’s true. The more I gave, the quicker I was able to pay off debt.
And I haven’t looked back since.
Sure, there are months when sometimes we’re not sure how we’re going to make it all work. Sometimes John and I are a bit anxious about the future and providing for our family… but honestly? I never doubt anymore. I have no idea what the Lord has planned, and I have no idea what lies ahead for us, but I know that we will always be taken care of. Our needs will always be met.
Every month when John and I sit down to do our budget, the FIRST thing that is outlined and line-itemed on our budget is our tithe. No questions asked. It’s not a negotiable expense.
We tithe 10% of our GROSS income (sometimes even a little more). We tithe our paychecks, we tithe any bonuses or other income we receive, etc. We tithe EVERY dollar that comes in. Why? Because we WANT to. It’s not even something we feel like we HAVE to do anymore… it’s something we feel CALLED to do.
Giving isn’t just something we LIKE to do or feel CALLED to do, it’s something we LOVE to do. Giving brings us so much joy. We give as much as we realistically can. Obviously we can’t do it all – but we realize the more that we give, the more we feel blessed.
And the fact is, it’s not even all financial blessings. I mean, the blessings I’ve experienced and felt, WE’VE experienced and felt, in the past few years with regards to my relationships, family, friendships, work life, etc. it’s just something that’s difficult to totally describe.
It’s a comforting feeling that I’ve never felt before in my entire life.
For the first time in my life, my heart is in the right place. My mind is in the right place. And honestly? I owe it all to the Lord and His never ending grace and faithfulness.
I know that’s not “popular” and I know that’s not “cool” and I know that sounds “weird,” but I don’t care. I’ve never been popular or cool anyway… I’ve always been
a little bit pretty weird So why start trying to be different now?
In my admittedly short experience, it’s my feeling and my belief that Christians are called to be faithful, cheerful givers. Did you know that the bible mentions / talks about money over 800 times? 800! If it wasn’t important, I don’t think it would have been talked about so much.
And the scary truth is, it’s been said that, on average, only about 5% of active Christians faithfully tithe the full 10%.
But think about this – think about what the church could do in the community if every Christian tithed the full 10%? Think about the difference that God could make with that amount of money? The homeless that could be sheltered, the hungry that could be fed, the victims of sex trafficking that could be rescued… I mean – the possibilities are endless.
So, this is my personal challenge to you: Do you consider yourself a Christian? Do you tithe faithfully? Have you trusted God with your finances? Have you surrendered this area of your life to Him?
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. -Matthew 6:21
I ask you: where is your treasure? Is it in your home? Your wardrobe? Your car? Or is it in your faith in God?
Test Him. Give it six months. Test Him. Tithe the full 10% for six months and see if He does not pour out the floodgates of heaven. See if you don’t feel changed.
What about you? Do you have a story with tithing? Is tithing something you’ve struggled with? What questions do you have about tithing?
“12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 3:12-14