Two years ago I confessed in this newsletter that I am a tither — giving 10 percent of my gross income to the church. Now in my fifth full year of tithing, I’m more convinced than ever that giving generously brings blessings back to me many times over.
I talk hesitantly about my giving. I do not want to seem boastful, but I do want to share with you how generosity can be a blessing.
Financial Security It seems counter-intuitive that I achieved financial security by giving away more money, but it’s true. Before I committed to tithing, I would pay all my bills and then give the church an offering from whatever was left over. My contributions to church were pretty meager, and yet I still struggled to pay bills.
Now I “tithe” off the top, mostly by way of a $300 automatic monthly bank payment, arranged through the free Simply Giving program. I give to the church first, and I always have enough for everything else.
There are several explanations, and all are interconnected. First, I’m managing my finances better, keeping my priorities straight and buying less stuff I don’t need or really want. Second, I do believe God gives me the opportunity to earn money for all my needs — and some of my wants. Related to that, I’m making a good salary.
Trust in God As a result of tithing, I have gained deeper trust that God rewards us when we are faithful in deed, and not just word. When you tithe, you really do put your money where your mouth is. I believe that if I am doing my best to follow Jesus, then I needn’t worry about anything. As Paul says in Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”
Attitude Adjustment Here’s one of the biggest blessings: I’ve grown!
Giving generously is counter-cultural in our society, where we are told incessantly that our level of happiness, our sense of security, our well-being — our entire identity — is linked to how much money we make and the stuff we own.
Along with this first lie, we are told a second lie, which is that we never, ever, ever have enough money to feel happy, secure and content. In this way our culture conditions us to be insatiable. We never have enough. It’s the attitude of scarcity.
Scarcity thinking fuels our economy and is conveyed 24/7 though advertisements, media and culture. It infects our values with worldliness. But God challenges us to embrace a belief in God’s abundance. Abundant thinking holds that God gives us all the things we need, really need, to be well.
By tithing we declare that we will not be enslaved by unhappy, scarcity thinking, but rather we are happy, free and generous in God’s abundance.
This was the observation of Rick Warren, the pastor who made millions on “The Purpose-Driven Life.” He is now a “reverse-tither,” giving away 90 percent of his money and living on 10 percent.
“Every time I give,” Warren says, “it breaks the grip of materialism in my life. Every time I give, it makes me more like Jesus. Every time I give, my heart grows bigger.” Amen!