Disclaimer: This post is in no way a prescription of how to tithe at any time…it is simply a call to seek the Lord, pray, and search the Word in all times to find how the Lord would like you to give at any given time, specifically during times of hardship or struggle.
It’s about time, right?!?!? I believe this post came to mind two or more months ago… It was just a brief thought I had because of a comment on one of my posts. I thought maybe it would be helpful for someone to hear what we did to figure out how the Lord wanted us to give at this time in our lives. So hopefully it will be helpful to someone!
I really like to tithe…I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not or a weird thing or not… I say that because I like all things to be under-control, to know exactly what’s expected of me, and to be able to do them easily and quickly. And that’s exactly what tithing is… or at least so I thought. See I struggle in knowing exactly what God wants me to do, I think many people do… or at least I hope it’s not just me… Anyway I struggle with practical application of things, like what does forgiveness actually look like in really life, what does grace mean or what does it mean for me to extend grace… How do I have healthy boundaries and not be selfish? These things plague me constantly…I want DESPERATELY to know exactly what it means to obey God and how to do it and I want to be able to do it right away. I really really want to be obedient to Christ. But I have this problem… well I have lots of problems namely being sinful, but the specific problem I have is needing to really understand what to do and how it looks and every little detail. I am very detail-oriented… (Side-note does anyone else feel like all of the good things about them are also severe downfalls?!?!?!?identity crisis) So sometimes I don’t do anything because I don’t know where to start or understand exactly what I’m supposed to do… I suppose faith and trust come in here somewhere… oh man…
All that to say tithing seemed very straight-forward to me… you give 10% of your income… that I could do! Yes, it is money and I wouldn’t have it anymore and that sucks when you want to buy something or money is tight, BUT it was something I could physically do and I could do it RIGHT and obey the Lord. Let me tell you, I was STOKED!!! So while I’m over here trying to figure out all the messy stuff with the Lord at least I was obedient in something right? Right? Well then I heard people talking about tithing from your gross income, not your take home income and I kinda freaked out… DANG IT!!!! I wasn’t doing it right after all… You are supposed to give from your FIRST fruits… I didn’t want to be like Cain (dramatic I know)… but could we afford to give more… I didn’t know, but it is ALL God’s money after all. So Luke and I prayed about it and discussed it A LOT and we decide of course we wanted to give of our first fruits. So we started tithing 10% of our gross income. FUEW! Crisis averted… we were being obedient! Or so I
thought…hoped. Granted I knew already that God is all about the heart of the giver and that was the most important part, but I really like to give as it is so I didn’t feel quite so much like a Pharisee. My heart was ready and willing to give. Plus my husband praised that about me, so I felt like I had maybe one quality of that ever elusive Proverbs 31 woman.
Then there was another curve ball… moving in with the in-laws to take on paying off our debt full-time and as intensely as we possibly could. So we could go on paying our tithe just like we planned or we could do something different…Luke brought this up as we were making our new budget for our new way of living… Immediately the hairs on the back of my neck stood up and I bristled…WHAT?!?!? Could you actually be suggesting we don’t tithe? I thought he had lost his mind or at least his faith (again dramatic I. KNOW.) He asked me to chill out…grrr… and hear him out… I will admit I wasn’t that friendly about listening, but I did try. He had talked to some Christ-followers that we really respect and they had suggested that maybe tithing wasn’t such a perfect formula like I had thought.
So we decide to spend some time praying about it and seeking the Lord before we made any decisions about our new budget. It REALLY stressed me out! So thankfully God led me to Himself and I picked up my Bible and did a search on the words tithing and giving. I was shocked at what I found. I felt the Lord lovingly whispering to my heart that not everything or maybe nothing fits into my perfect little box… maybe faith and being obedient was a little more messy. (I have to admit I am always a little surprised when God lovingly whispers something to me, I always think God is somehow as frustrated with my slowness as I am, thankfully He is patient, loving, merciful, and compassionate.) God showed me that giving is so important and that He loves a cheerful giver 2 Corinthians 6-8. He also showed me that giving in this time might look different than it has before, He has called us to be faithful and give to those in need. The most important thing I felt God showed me was that I could trust Him to show me when and how to give, not just with money, but with my time, and talents. And He has been so faithful, I have occasionally stressed about what and how to give, but He clearly revealed the times He wanted us to give. It’s been messy and does not fit in the nice neat box I wanted it to, but we are trusting the Lord. Practically, because I LOVE practical applications, we prayerfully decided to tithe from Luke’s pay since we are living off of his paycheck and decide to give according to what the Lord puts on our hearts with everything else, which sometimes looks like donating to an organization or helping with a fundraiser or giving to help the Lord’s plan in some else’s life or buying someone coffee.
Pastor PJ Lewis gave me a great reminder of this and greatly put it all into perspective in this sermon (Tithing is talked about about halfway through this sermon). God wants us to give generously, sacrificially, and without guilt. Seek the Lord in how, where, and in how much He wants you to give with your time, treasure, and talents. He is faithful to answer.