I doubt there really is a church that doesn’t, at some point or another, talk about money. In fact, more than once I’ve heard people say “the church just wants my money. That’s all they talk about.” While I know that is not the case, I also know that at least once a year there is a sermon or two about the importance of tithing. And, for several years, after hearing said sermon, there would inevitably follow a discussion at our house about whether or not we should be tithing. We’d sit down with our pencil and paper and attempt to create a budget that would include giving 10 percent of our monthly income to God. And somehow, we’d never be able to find a way to make it work. We knew what our expenses were (in general) and once we had those down on paper there just wasn’t enough left to give 10 percent to God. Even if we took the tithe out first it still didn’t seem to work – on paper, at least. It was incredibly frustrating.
One year, however, this all changed. We sat down one night, after putting the kids to bed, and discussed tithing and how we could make it work – or even if we wanted to make it work. But instead of looking at numbers we pulled out our Bible and looked up the verses on tithing. So many seemed to be in the Old Testament and thus we weren’t really sure if they applied to us or not. For years we’d followed the advice in 2 Corinthians 9:7, “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.” Our hearts seemed very cheerful giving 5 percent or less of our income to God, and yet, there wasn’t a whole lot of cheering going on when it came time to pay the bills.
So, it was on this big “should we tithe, or should we not” night that I was reminded of a verse in Malachi 3:6-10 that reads:
“I the Lord do not change.” (Wait, you mean not even from Old Testament to New, Lord?) “So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.
“But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’
“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.
“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’
“In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse —your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 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.”
Whoa, whoa, whoa!! By not tithing we were robbing God? Well, neither my husband nor I are rocket scientists (though he’s a lot closer than I am), but we both know that robbery is wrong. And, if taking something that doesn’t belong to me from someone else is wrong, how much worse is it to take something from God that belongs to Him? This knowledge didn’t end our discussion but it certainly changed its course. We knew that if we decided to tithe we’d need to give up some other things in our lives; some things that perhaps we had deemed necessary and yet, in all honesty, were more conveniences. Could we really commit to that? It seemed, at this point, that if we didn’t commit to tithing we were really committing to a life of robbing God. That didn’t seem wise.
I don’t recall ever putting pen to paper that day. There was no way, really, to make a budget all come out on paper – at least not in our minds; we just knew that we needed to tithe and God would have to work out the details. There was only one thing that we determined we wouldn’t be able to do if we were going to tithe – go out to lunch after church each week. Granted, the cost of lunch was not going to equal the amount of our tithe, but it was all we could come up with at that moment. The rest we were going to have to trust God for.
The oddest thing happened after we started to tithe. It probably took me over a year to notice, but we were no longer arguing over money. Oh sure, we still had (and have) discussions about how we’re going to spend our income, but in general, no big arguments have taken place since that time, and it’s been a fairly long time by now. Had there been no financial benefit to tithing, the lack of arguments alone would have been worth it. I mean, seriously, who likes to argue?
And yet, the lack of arguments has not been the only benefit of tithing. The Lord has done as He promised and blessed us immensely, not just financially, but in so many other ways, too.
Nancy loves to laugh and considers laughter a critical part of human survival. If you were to ask, most days she would say her glass is half full but when it starts reaching the half-empty level, she reaches for a funny book or movie knowing that indeed “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” Nancy has three married sons and five grandchildren. To read more from Nancy find her at www.nancyholte.com.