Really, I do not remember when I began tithing, but I have no memories as a young Christian in college when I was not tithing. Since the beginning of my personal relationship with Jesus Christ, I was convinced that tithing – giving the first ten percent of my paycheck back to the Lord – was “the right thing to do.” At some point, people modeled and taught this to me, and their examples, coupled with the truth of Scripture, were enough to convince me. I praise God for that because, like most people, I have always struggled with at least some sense of entitlement, pride, selfishness, and greed.
“This is mine. I worked hard for this. No one else can tell me what to do with my money!” Those words, whether said out loud or not, have been spoken by all of us at least once (if not many times), right?
Yet, as is clear in 1 Chronicles 29 and throughout the Bible, God is the owner of everything, including our time, money, gifts, resources, and lives. Thus, we own absolutely nothing. With that right, biblical perspective, giving back to God at least the first ten percent of anything we make is really quite simple. By the grace of God, I have believed that since the very beginning of my Christian walk, and by His grace and mercy, I have been a tither, convinced that I should honor God with at least the first ten percent of every paycheck, and give more, when possible, for the sake of missions, helping the needy, etc.
Please realize, I do not share this to boast, as I know that I would be completely incapable of this kind of commitment if left up to my own selfishness, stinginess, and foolishness. But, God – in His mercy and grace – saw fit to convict me of this from the beginning, has demonstrated His faithfulness, provided me with a wife who has the same convictions, and overwhelms me with the continued desire to give.
Not tithing (as a bare minimum) has never been an option. Marsha and I have never entertained the idea, and I sincerely believe that is due to God’s provision – not only God’s provision for us to have our physical needs met but more importantly to have our spiritual needs met. Not honoring Him with at least our first ten percent has never been an entertained thought because He has protected us, by His grace, from having such a desire.
When I was a young, immature follower of Jesus in college, I had a conversation with a friend about tithing. He said that, because we had very little money and made very little money, surely God did not expect us to tithe due to our financial strains. I was not convinced that my friend’s argument was right, so I decided to keep tithing from my gross income (gross, meaning pre-taxed amount and gross, meaning most would be less than impressed).
Thanks be to God, I made it through college with no loans and no debt. Times were often tight, but God certainly met all my needs, and then some. Not coincidentally, I believe, my aforementioned friend struggled a lot more than I did.
When I was getting my master’s degree in seminary, Marsha and I were newly married and had more financial struggles. Again, though, we believed that if we continued to honor God with at least the first ten percent, He would meet our needs. We definitely wanted more at times, but we never needed more than we had. In fact, we often had (and still do have) more than we need/ed. Praise the Lord!
On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching from Hebrews 7:1-10 on the first recorded tithe (as explained first in Genesis 14:17-24) and why honoring God with at least the first ten percent is biblical.
Health and wealth are never promised to us by God, not in this life. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you” (Matthew 6:33). When Jesus said that about “these things,” He was referring to our needs according to God’s perfect plan and provision. Trust and depend on Him by honoring Him with your first fruits, your best, your life. As has been shared by so many others, including some recent Sunday morning testimonies by our church family, you will never regret obeying the Word of God.