I have felt for a long time now that tithing is an essential part of my spiritual walk and my growth as a Christian. The importance of giving back to God was impressed upon me from an early age; not that He needs the money Himself, but that we need to be giving a portion “back to God” to be used to help others. It’s the sign of a grateful spirit, which acknowledges that we are blessed by God and we ought not be selfish with what we have been given. It’s also a mark of obedience to God, that we trust His Word and follow what it tells us.
So I have been faithfully tithing/giving for many years now. And I have dutifully put in my 10% each month, and more when I can afford it. Even through these past 4 months, when I have been unemployed and money is tight, I have continued to give my (somewhat adjusted now) 10%. And God had faithfully honored that, and made sure that we had enough to pay our bills and keep food in the house. God is creative, so there have been several ways this was accomplished for us – but always, our needs have been met.
Recently I was challenged to step further out in faith when I read a book by Francis Chan, called “Crazy Love.” In the book, Chan challenges us to take to heart the words of Malachi 3:10 –
“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.”
And not to merely give what is “convenient” – but to give until it’s sacrificial, to the point where you need to rely on God to make up any shortfall that might occur due to your giving.
So I decided to take God up on this – I mean, after all, He says to test Him in this … He actually says “try Me now in this.” That sounds like a challenge to me, and I am not one to back down from a challenge. (God knows me so well!)
I made the decision to start giving 20% of our income back to God. It was a “deep breath” moment two weeks ago when I wrote that first check in church for twice the amount I had very recently been giving. And I thought, “OK, Lord – you’re gonna need to help make up the difference here. You know this will make use tighter on finances this week. So let’s see what you do. I am going to have faith (gulp) that you’ve got this covered – that you will honor my obedience in this.”
Next week I got some unexpected income … of $500. Out of the blue, a family member sent me a check for $500 to help us out. Oooohhhh Kaaayyy?!?!? God, is that you?!?!? I didn’t want to just immediately chalk that up to God’s answer to my increase in tithing. Does it work that way? Man, that was quick.
So now what to do? Do I take 20% of the unexpected income and give it back to God? It was tempting to just say, “Thanks, God,” and put the $500 in the bank. But I knew that I had made a commitment that ANY income would have 20% taken off the top and given back to God. And He knew that. And I knew He knew that. So there really wasn’t anything else to do. He was watching … and waiting, no doubt. So the deposit slip from the bank was for $400 and I took the other $100 to Walmart and The Dollar Store to buy supplies for one of our church’s outreaches. (You can read more about that here: Mission of Hope – Under the Bridge)
I bought warm knit hats and gloves, toiletry items, snack foods and bottled water, etc. to be given away when we had our next outreach to the homeless.
I also took 20% of the monthly Social Security survivors benefits that my daughter and I received, went online and bought some blankets to be distributed as well. This felt good! It was exciting to know that I was living on the edge! There was also a hint of nervousness – there were bills that had been paid, and the money was due to be taken out of our account on Monday. It was going to be close, whether we would have enough money to cover them or not. I hoped that my addition was correct, and nothing unexpected happened. I was trusting God to provide – and knowing that He would, but not knowing the means by which that provision would arrive.
Well, I quickly found out. When I logged on to my computer and checked my bank balance the following Monday, I was amazed – almost dumbfounded.
My account balance was $5,600 higher than I expected.
Seems someone at the Social Security office decided I needed some extra money. They had shorted me that amount from back in 2013, and hadn’t wanted to hang on to it a minute longer than necessary. Personally, I think God whispered in their collective ear.
Some people may say that this is just a coincidence. They may be doubtful that it truly was God’s hand that caused those funds to come our way. And they are entitled to their opinion.
But I choose to believe that His promise in Malachi is true. And I think the evidence is on my side.
OK, now to decide just where to give the 20% from THAT windfall! This is getting to be fun!