Discussions on money are a sensitive topic. Yet there are times when it must be done. Tithing is one of them. Money is mentioned 800 times in the Bible! God knew we would need a lot of guidance on it.
What is tithing? In Miriam Webster it is defined as “to pay or give a tenth part of especially for the support of a religious establishment or organization.”
Where in the Bible does it discuss tithing? Right from the very beginning in the first book of the Bible:
Genesis 14:19-20 (NIV)
19 and he blessed Abram, saying,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Creator of heaven and earth.
20 And praise be to God Most High,
who delivered your enemies into your hand.”
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
Genesis 28:20-22 (NIV)
20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God 22 and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”
Malachi 3:8-12 (NIV)
8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.
“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’
“In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 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 there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.
In the beginning, we struggled to tithe. As I mentioned in earlier posts, when we first got married, I was not a Christian. We got married while I was still in college, and it took a while for us to find a church where we both felt comfortable. By 2007, (about 3 years into our marriage) I had became a believer and we finally found a church to call home. It was Heritage Free Will Baptist Church in Gilbert, AZ. I was 25 and Sam was 26. From the very beginning, God used that group of believers to help our faith in Jesus to grow. We started to become convicted in several areas of our lives – including our finances.
We began to give some money – but not regularly, and certainly not 10%. When we gave, it was after all the bills were paid – putting God last. We knew we were going in the right direction – but we were still not being truly obedient to God. And our finances were not thriving.
By 2008, when the entire American economy collapsed, we were impacted in several ways. The CPA firm I worked at lost many clients and I (and several coworkers) were laid off. The house we had purchased in the spring of 2007 lost 50% of its value. We had little money in the bank. It was a difficult time, but despite our years of disobedience, God took care of us. I got a new job, unexpected checks would appear in the mail, and our bills always got paid. It took us close to 2 years, but by 2009 we finally started putting God first in our finances and tithed 10% at the receipt of every paycheck. And amazing things started happening to our finances. By 2009 our one credit card was paid off. Shortly after our only car was paid off. When people or ministries needed financial help, we were able to step in.
By 2010, I was very pregnant with our first child. I had given notice at work that I would be leaving at the end of February. Also around January/February, we found out that Sam’s job was coming to an end. He had been working remotely since 2006 and remote workers were being eliminated in his division. Now I was in panic mode – my job was ending and we had a new baby coming in March. But once again God stepped in and got Sam a new job that was only about 1 mile down the street (unheard of in Phoenix!!), and was a promotion and better pay.
Things were going well and we were being obedient and faithful to God.
Then comes the end of 2013/beginning of 2014. We decided to move from AZ back to NC. It had been 6 years since the housing crash in AZ, but our house value still had not bounced back. We still owed more on the house than it was worth. Our only option was to attempt a short sale. Just about everyone we knew in AZ that had sold houses were able to get successful short sales. But despite all our prayers and hustling, after 1 year of working with the bank, they refused all the many offers we received for the house and foreclosed on us in November 2014.
It was a very dark, shameful day in our life. Sam and I were the type of first born adults that were never late on our bills, let alone something like a foreclosure. I was so angry with God. Why did he provide short sales for so many of our friends, but not us? Hadn’t we been faithful for several years now? But God started convicting me of a few ugly things in my life that needed work. Humility. Pride. Making decisions without Him (we bought the AZ house without ever consulting Him!)
As a result of the foreclosure, we were not allowed to purchase another house for 3 years. We had to rent and deal with the embarrassment that sometimes comes with people now in their 30’s and not homeowners. But God was faithful to us and we never wanted for anything. And even though we were upset with God, we remained faithful with our finances.
Eventually by 2017 God had restored us and we were allowed to purchase a home again. During those 3 years we had been able to save and carefully think about what was really important to our family. God convicted us to purchase below our means and just focus on our needs. We gave the purchase to God and he took care of the rest. We thought about how wonderful it would be to have a small mortgage payment with the capability of paying extra principal payments each month. Or to be able to pay off our house in just 8 years. What impact would that have on our life to be completely debt free? That was what God helped us to see and focus on.
For great information on all things financial – check out Dave Ramsey: https://www.daveramsey.com/
We highly recommend Dave Ramsey’s books, Complete Guide to Money and Smart Money, Smart Kids.
Even though we experienced some difficult, painful lessons about money, I embrace the shame and share it when necessary. Now when a friend confides shameful parts of their lives – sexual sin, divorce, addictions, etc. I am able to share this shameful side of my past. I sure did not like going through those circumstances, but I am glad to be able to let others know that they are not the only ones with shame. We all do and Guess What? God of the universe still loves us. We are His children and He allows each of us to go through trials for various reasons. But we can use those challenges to grow and help others.
Here are some Bible verses on why we as Christians are allowed to experience trials:
Romans 8:28 (NIV)
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
1 Peter 1:6-7 (NIV)
6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Romans 5:3-5 (NIV)
3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
There is a wonderful peace in our finances when we obey God and put Him first. There is also great joy in giving.
Acts 20:35 (NIV)
35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
And God loves a cheerful giver!
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (NIV)
6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Whenever I start to feel stingy, I remind myself that the money in our bank accounts are not ours. They belong to God. We are simply stewards of what He has given us. Are we going to be good or bad stewards? I want to be the best steward possible! Lord help me to always be generous and be like the widow and her two mites!
Mark 12:41-44 (NIV) The Widow’s Offering
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
She saved nothing for herself and gave it all to God. Lord, that I would be like her! Pray to God today and allow Him to lead you in your finances!