Do you tithe? Do you give to the Lord His portion of what you earn? Or do you keep it, assuming there is no way you could make ends meet if you give away any of it?
I have often struggled to give the tithe. When money was tight, I resented my husband for giving anything – let alone a tithe! Then there were the times that money was more abundant, but I wasn’t walking close to the Lord – and neither was my husband. No amount of money seemed to be enough. We were drowning in debt, upside-down in a too-large and too-expensive house (that I hated), and tithing just seemed silly. Giving away money we could put on our debts?! Seriously!
But gradually, we came back to the place of trusting God more. We started giving the tithe again. God started blessing: we got out of debt, sold the upside-down house, found good jobs, and got involved in church again.
Today, we faithfully give the tithe and frequently give above the tithe. When I started gathering information for our taxes this year, I was surprised to learn we gave well over the tithe in 2017. Some facts make that seem hard to believe: my husband retired; I resigned my job to stay at home and write; we paid off significant debt; sold and bought a house; move across the state; bought a new car. Blessings on blessings! Without a doubt, giving to the Lord is the best thing we do with the money He lends us.
Realize God Owns It All
I thought about making this point #1, but it is the foundation of all the following points: Realize that none of what you have is yours. It all came from the Lord, and He can take it away just as quickly (Job 1:21). Giving the tithe starts with trusting God.
- Have a budget! Starting with a budget for the month, based on your actual income and expenses, is the best way to make sure you pay the tithe to your local church. If you view the tithe as a regular expenditure, just like the mortgage or rent, electric bill, and groceries, you are far more likely to pay it regularly.
- Start small. Yes, the tithe is 10% of your income. Yes, you should give 10%. But I believe that God honors our hearts when we take small steps toward obedience. So, if giving 10% seems impossible, give 5% or 8%. But give something. I would suggest that you not go below 5% because sometimes small is just too small. As the Lord proves Himself faithful in honoring what you do give, stretch your giving to 10%. That should be your minimum expectation of yourself, even if you are starting small.
- Better yet, go large. Try giving 11% or 12% instead of 10 %. Stretch your faith, and see what God will do. Also, when figuring the tithe, round to the nearest $10. So, if your tithe for the week is $364, round up to $370 or higher. It isn’t enough of a difference to be felt, but it stretches your giving muscles.
- Pray for the faith to give and pray for the commitment to live on the 90%. God honors prayers that honor Him. And since He is the One who said to give the tithe, praying that you’ll be faithful in doing so is a prayer He will surely answer.
- Cut out unnecessary expenses. Do you really need another pair of shoes, a new jacket, or that fancy new gizmo that everyone is talking about? When you spend God’s money on yourself, you are doing no less than stealing from God (Malachi 3:8). Be honest with yourself about needs versus wants, and cut back on fulfilling your every whim. Waiting to get something is good for your character! And you might just find you can really live without it.
- Have the tithe automatically deducted from your checking account. Many churches have this convenience available. Scheduling a regular deduction, where you don’t have to think about giving the tithe, can relieve you of the temptation to cut back or not give. Once it comes through your bank account, spend some time in prayer, asking God’s blessing on your faithfulness and your 90% (see #3).
- Have your spouse handle the giving. Often one spouse will be more gifted in giving than another. So, having the gifted spouse handle this responsibility only makes sense. He or she will get a double blessing by giving the tithe and relieving you of a responsibility that is currently too heavy for you.
- Take a financial management course, such as Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace or Crown Ministries courses. Learning from godly older men and women – who often struggled to give – can help you find the way out of your predicament of wanting to give, but not seeing how you can afford it.
- Downsize. If your car payment, credit card debt, or house payment is forcing you to cut back on your giving, try downsizing by trading your car for one with a lower payment, selling excess stuff on eBay, or selling your house and getting a smaller one. Getting a handle on your finances – which means giving the tithe regularly – is far more important than having a great house or new car.
- Seek one-on-one counseling from a Christian financial counselor. If you really cannot see your way clear in your current financial state to giving to the Lord, then you need to admit you need help. Many churches have resources for people who want to learn to handle money God’s way. If your church does not have those resources available, contact Dave Ramsey’s ministry or Financial Peace for some guidance on finding a mature Christian who can help you. The counselor you choose must be committed to and giving the tithe him- or herself.
That’s it! Ten simple steps to help you give more cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7). In the future, I’ll be sharing some resources to make it easier for you to be organized in your finances, with the goal of giving more freely. You may have heard this before, but it’s still true: You can’t out-give God.