Tithing – The Touchy Topic

I realize the very word – “TITHING” – generates strong emotions. And I get it; not every TV preacher is honest.  If a pastor of a church preaches on the subject, parishioners think he just wants more money. Or, in this economy, who can afford to give ten percent?  Then there’s the argument – do you give a full ten percent before or after taxes?  Do you tithe to your local church or can you give it elsewhere?  I can’t afford to give if I won’t get a tax deduction.  Fill in the blank.  I know there are more objections than these.

Frankly, I don’t even feel like addressing those questions.  I could.  But that’s not where my heart is.  What really beats in my chest is the longing for people to know that they are cheating themselves when they don’t tithe.  Yes, the Bible says if we don’t tithe we are robbing God.  And in my opinion that’s a very big deal.  But I long for people to know that God is not a cheapskate.  He is not stingy, nor miserly.  And He is a debtor to no man.  It’s impossible to out give God!

A couple years ago, a very precious friend asked me if I tithed. I responded with a laugh. “I can’t afford NOT to!”

And I really meant it. I’ve been tithing for over 40 years and in that time the Lord has never, ever failed to take care of our finances.  We’ve not always had a big surplus, but He has always met our needs. Always.  And we did it on one income at a time when society insists that both parents must work to make ends meet.

Not only did our Heavenly Father provide so we could pay our bills consistently, He also did things for us that to this day do not compute on paper. How in the world did a family of five, living on one blue collar income, manage to take vacations – sometimes flying?  We still laugh about it.  It was pure delight to see how God came through for us.

One time, he gave us a “two for one” vacation. Because of an overbooked flight, we surrendered up our seats, which garnered our entire family flights for another vacation the following year.

I could go on and on about how God took care of us because we faithfully tithed. No, I’m not patting us on the back because we did it. How can I? Tithing works for anyone. God doesn’t play favorites. I even know of a business man who was not a believer, but he knew that tithing worked so he did it. And God blessed him. A lot.

When I see people struggle with finances, the first question I want to ask them is, “Do you tithe?” I never say it. But I think it. And I feel sorry for them because I know they’re experiencing a tremendous amount of angst that isn’t necessary.

I’d like to offer a challenge to all people who do not believe in tithing. Here’s how I’d set it up: In one column, I’d have them keep track of their income – their full income before taxes. In another column, I’d have them record the amount their tithe (ten percent) would be, before taxes, if they DID tithe. Every entry would be dated. In a third column, I would have them record any unforeseen expenses, car and appliance breakdowns, furnace malfunctions, air conditioning going on the fritz, sick pets, anything that isn’t a predictable expense. At the end of a year, I would have them compare their totals – the amount it would have cost them if they HAD tithed – and the amount they paid out for “disaster expenses.”

I’m not saying people who tithe never have unexpected expenses. But I am saying that God PROMISES that if we give what belongs to Him, the ten percent (minimum), He will “pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” God actually invites us to test Him on this! He promises other things, too, but I’m not telling you here. Read it for yourself! It’s in the Bible – Malachi 3:8-11

I dare you to take the challenge. If you’re not ready to trust God yet, then start keeping track like I suggested. Let me know in a year which column is bigger. I’d love to hear.

But seriously, I hope you’ll take God’s challenge instead. There is no greater thrill than interacting with the God of the Universe – the One who loves you more than you can imagine – and discovering that He cares about you…and your finances!

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Let’s Play “What If”

This evening while out for a walk just before dark, I started asking myself a lot of “what ifs.”  I played “What If” for myself and also for other people, asking questions like…

…What if the reason my life feels like it’s “on pause”…

…What if the reason I’m not seeing answers to certain prayers…

…What if the reason certain young ladies I know, who want intensely to be married and who are now in their thirties still waiting for their prince…

…What if so many couples are having difficulty conceiving a baby…

…What if getting that new job or that raise seems to never happen…

…You fill in the blank – “What if _______________________________________”

Is because Jesus is coming back soon?

There are certainly many signs.  Everybody knows it.  Even Hollywood is prophesying the end is at hand in its movies.  So…

What If He is?

Does this change my thinking? My priorities?  Do the questions I’m fixating on matter if they’re asked in light of His imminent return?

What if my life feels like it’s on pause is because the areas in which I want to go forward are a waste of time, a misuse of my energies?

What if certain answers to prayer seem delayed because my Heavenly Father knows that they – and many of the other issues mentioned above – will soon not matter?

Are my priorities straight?

What if I ask Him to help me understand what really matters?

What if I focus on Him?