Did this strike a chord with anyone?
Tithing may be a sore subject with some people. Others may embrace this philosophy wholeheartedly. Either way, I want to write about what I believe ... and I believe this is an important part of your financial planning.
I have seen first-hand how important this piece of my financial puzzle has become. It may not seem logical if you are in dire money straits to be giving away what you feel that you need to survive. Why would God ask us to give to others when we are worrying daily how we will survive and take care of our family? We are worrying about paying our bills, and the pastor just preached another sermon on the importance of giving. No joke ... mine did, just last week. That's what got me started on this post. And trust me on this ... it makes "cents." Pun intended. :)
Whether you use your Bible to justify it, or you simply feel like "you get back what you give" ... it is important that you are giving, even when you feel as if your budget is telling you that you can't afford to give. I am not saying that you should just hand over all your money to a church or organization. I am saying that you sit down, and determine what you are able to give - what you truly feel "led" to share - and then set that plan in motion.
Here's why I feel strongly about this:
- There are always people who are worse off than you. If you have a home, sigh in relief and be grateful. If you can put food on the table, smile and rejoice. If you are wearing shoes right now, wiggle those toes and be happy. God has provided your needs. There are many who don't have the things with which you have been blessed. This is not to make you feel guilty, it's to get you to realize that we often focus on our own wants (notice I didn't say needs) and we end up feeling sorry for ourselves. Pity party in progress!
- God has provided everything we have. We may think that we have worked oh so hard, and have met our own needs ... but just who gave you the skills you use to earn your paycheck? Who gave you the breaks or opened the doors for you to prosper? As Christians, we know that we are dependent upon God for our protection, our survival and our prosperity.
2 Corinthians 9:7 says,"[So let] each one [give] as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver."
Luke 6:38 says "give and it will be given to you, a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over it will pour into your lap, for by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you in return."
There are folks that say you must give 10%, others that say you must be "Spirit-led" and give what the Holy Spirit tells you to give. I believe there is a difference between tithing and giving. Tithing is a spiritual discipline where you set aside 10% of your income to give to God's work - essentially giving it back to God. Giving, for me, falls under the heading of "Spirit-led" and is over and above the monthly tithing. It's for those times of extra abundance, and when there is a special need presented that I can fill.
However you choose to define it, and whether you choose tithing or giving or both ... the important idea is to share with others what you have been given, and to give back to God some of what He has blessed you with.
You might wonder how you could ever give away what you need yourself. I can tell you from personal experience that God does indeed "fill in the gaps." Just like the story from 2 Kings 4:1-7:
1 One day the widow of one of Elisha's fellow prophets came to Elisha and cried out to him, "My husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the LORD. But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves." 2 "What can I do to help you?" Elisha asked. "Tell me, what do you have in the house?""Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil," she replied. 3 And Elisha said, "Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. 4 Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting the jars aside as they are filled." 5 So she did as she was told. Her sons brought many jars to her, and she filled one after another. 6 Soon every container was full to the brim!"Bring me another jar," she said to one of her sons."There aren't any more!" he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing. 7 When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, "Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and there will be enough money left over to support you and your sons."
As a widow, I need to live in expectation that God will act on my behalf - according to my faith. God will supply my needs, according to my trust in Him. My trust in His goodness and acts of faith, such as tithing/giving, will bring more abundance into my life.
Whether you are in a season of plenty or a season of want...the expectation is that you trust God. That you start with what you have, be willing to do whatever it takes, act believing God will show up and honor God with the results.