Friday, May 28, 2010
My Two Cents On Budgeting: Tithing
Tithing. This can be an interesting subject!
According to dictionary.com, the meaning of the word tithe:
-the tenth part of agricultural produce or personal income set apart as an offering to God or for works of mercy, or the same amount regarded as an obligation or tax for the support of the church, priesthood, or the like.
Biblically speaking, to tithe is to set apart a tenth of your income to give as a sacrificial offering to God's storehouse, which today would refer to your local church or body of believers.
Malachi 3: 8-12:
"Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' "In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—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 you will not have room enough for it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty. "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the LORD Almighty.
"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
As we discussed last week, everything that we have been given comes from God and belongs to Him anyways. Our money, our income, our paychecks are His. To tithe; to give back ten percent of what He has shared with us shows our gratefulness for what He has given us and our willingness to sacrifice to give back.
Just as we are commanded to pay our taxes, we are also commanded to tithe.
Matthew 22: 21:
Then he said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."
In reality, God doesn't need our money. He wants our obedience. Tithing is an act of worship and obedience. In the Malachi scripture above, we see something that is only mentioned one time in Scripture: " Test me in this and see if I do not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." God is asking us to test Him as we give and see if He doesn't pour out more blessings on our lives than we can stand!
Tithing brings balance to our finances. It brings everything into a right alignment when we know that everything we have is His anyways and openly declare that by giving back.
As a single lady, in my early to mid-twenties, tithing was a difficult concept for me. As a small child I loved taking coins to put in the Sunday School offering jar and in the offering plate at church. I knew about tithing but I didn't practice it regularly. I didn't always have enough money. I would forget to tithe. I had always heard that I should tithe off my gross income and at that time, I didn't always know the exact amount. Obviously, tithing had not become a heart issue for me or something that I did out of an obedient and willing heart. It was a chore. And I had plenty of excuses.
To encourage this, some well-meaning friends and family members told me that I didn't have enough money to tithe and that God understood.
But I knew what God's Word said about tithing and I felt very convicted for not doing so. Finally one day, after hearing a radio preacher expound on tithing, I made a decision.
From that day forward, I would give at least ten percent of my income back to God. Gross, net, whatever. Instead of over analyzing, I would just do it. I would be obedient and if I didn't have enough money leftover, God would have to take care of it.
I had also heard different personal accounts of how when people tithed or gave, they were immediately blessed financially. I was excited to find this out!
Imagine my surprise when a few weeks later, I discovered that my checkbook balance didn't appear to be going down but instead I seemed to have a lot more than usual. Wow! "This tithing thing really works", I thought.
A notice from the bank informed me that I had overdrawn my account and looking over the details I discovered that instead of subtracting a large check I had written out, I had mistakenly added it back in. That certainly explained the extra money!
I share this because we are often under the impression that God is going to bless us in a certain way. We give. He gives back even more.
God always gives back and He always keeps His promises but He doesn't always immediately pad our checking account as soon as we make out the tithe check. His blessings may not always be financial.
What I learned was that I had to actually really sacrifice some months to be able to tithe. Some months I had to skip activities because I couldn't afford both tithing and eating out with friends. Yes, it was difficult at first. But I had tremendous peace, because I knew that I was tithing out of an obedient and willing heart. And while I've never had millions of extra dollars lying around, God has always supplied my needs.
When we were preparing to be married, tithing came up during the finance session of our premarital counseling. Thankfully, we were both committed to tithing and we haven't looked back. Our tithe is the first category on our budget sheet and therefore is the first "bill" we pay. Not just on actual income, but we strive to also tithe on any money that slips through our hands, such as birthday or Christmas money we receive.
Obedience in giving a tenth back to God prepares us for even larger sacrifices He may ask us to make.
I believe strongly that our tithe should go to our church and not just any mission organization or ministry. While these are certainly worthy causes to support, those should be supported through personal additional offerings and not tithes. If you are between churches, I'd recommend finding a church to send your tithes to. Some friends of ours alternated tithing between both of their parents churches at a time when they did not have a church home.
Once the tithe has left our hands, it's not up to us what is done with it. Not agreeing with how your church handles money could signify deeper issues. If you have real concerns about how money is handled, instead of refusing to tithe, I recommend going to the leadership with your concerns and/ or possibly looking for another church home if the issue cannot be resolved.
Some folks like to spread their tithing out so they can put something into the offering plate every week. This is a personal preference. I just tithe whenever we get paid and again, refuse to over analyze.:-) I stick our tithe money into my Bible as soon as I write the check so it's ready to go the next Sunday.
I have a few friends who give more than ten percent as a tithe because God has told them to give a specific amount. Ten percent is the minimum that God requires. Naturally, if God impresses upon you to give more, you should go ahead and do that!
Some married folks encounter the issue of a spouse who does not believe the same way about tithing. I really cannot relate to this and therefore cannot give any advice except to pray for your spouse and let God work in their heart. ( I welcome any insight on this topic from readers who are or have been in this situation! Please share in the comments to encourage others who are dealing with this!)
I am committed to tithing because I want to be obedient to God's Word and give to His church. Helping others who are in need and growing the Kingdom of God are very important to me as a Christian and my tithe helps fulfill that.
Tithing should be the foundation of a Christians's budget. When the first fruits are offered to God, the rest of the budget will fall into place because we are operating by God's ways.
Join me next week as we dive into more practical waters and discuss making a budget!
**This post is part of Frugal Fridays!