Creating good habits early in your marriage is crucially important in a Christian marriage. One such area where it is important to become consistent is… tithing. If you have been tithing regularly since you were young, this may not be a contentious topic for you. If you have not, it could even seem like a financial impossibility. In either case, let me encourage you…
I have never met anyone who tithes faithfully destroyed over financial issues. In Malachi 3:10-12, God says “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.” (ESV) Something quite shocking is happening in this passage: this is the only time in Scripture where God commands his people to test Him.
Now, some of you may be thinking: “Isn’t tithing Old Testament? We’re not bound under that anymore!” Yes, tithing is an Old Testament principle; however, the Law is always easier than Grace… really. For instance, the Ten Commandments commands people not to commit adultery, yet Jesus (who is the Provider of grace) took it up one notch and said that those who lust commit adultery in their heart (Matthew 5:28). Additionally, when Scripture says not to murder, Jesus ups the ante by saying that those who have ever hated their brother have committed murder in their heart (Matthew 5:21-22; 1 John 3:15). So, what about tithing? Instead of restricting one’s giving to a tenth, the New Testament says that we should be cheerful givers (2 Corinthians 9:7). The word ‘cheerful’ in the Greek is hilaros… from where we get the English word: hilarious!
Can you imagine people coming to church jumping up and down when the offering plate comes by because they’re so gleeful that they can give? Yes! That’s the picture! And we’re not talking just 10% here, we’re talking giving out of the abundance of the heart. One congregation took it so far as to sell whatever they needed to so that nobody in their congregation had any need (Acts 4:32-35) – note, this is not saying that any congregant didn’t have any want. So, when compared to that model, 10% is starting to look really good, isn’t it? And that’s when we realize… our hearts have betrayed us.
When that 10% amount starts “looking good,” that’s when we realize that we realize we are coveting His resources and withholding them for our own pleasure. Think about this: God could have reversed it… He could have said, “I want you to bring 90% to the storehouse and live on 10%.” But, He owns 100% of everything (Psalms 50:12) and out of His kindness and goodness, He lets us use 90%! What a good God! So, whether you stick with the tithe or give another amount that you are giving hilariously, just do it. For our purposes in the post below, we’ll continue on with the concept of the tithe (and, perhaps, with a more generous spirit); however, if you want to theologically substitute the word “give” instead of using the word “tithe,” feel free.
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines ‘tithe’ as: “to pay or give a tenth part of especially for the support of the church” and “to give a tenth of one’s income as a tithe.” (This means you can’t tithe 5%… for by definition, tithing is 10%.) It is clear to me that the best reason – and really only reason we need – to tithe is because God told us to; but, here are a few benefits of tithing:
- Tithing builds our trust in God, especially when we are facing trying circumstances. Our faith and dependence upon God builds and grows when we are tithing.
- Tithing also opens our hearts to additional giving. When we open our hearts, hands, and wallets to God and confess (i.e., agree with Him) that all we have is His, it becomes easier for us to give back to Him and in other areas of our lives.
- When we clinch our fists tightly to hold on to “our” money (which is not ours at all), we simultaneously close our hands from accepting His blessing.
It is liberating to realize that God owns all of our money and our things. There is nothing on this Earth that is not His. He is blessing us with His provision and we are simply giving a portion of His money back to Him.
So, how important is tithing? My grandparents came to know the Lord soon after they were married. In 1946, Granddaddy was bringing home a whopping $123 a month, and rent was $23 a month. Each month was an incredible struggle to make ends meet. One day, he told my Granny that he wanted their family to start tithing. Even though they were struggling with the 100% they had, Granny told him to begin tithing if that’s what he wanted to do. So, what happened? Shortly after they begin tithing, they ran out of food….
She needed a few ingredients to make bread until his paycheck arrived. Granddaddy came home from work for lunch and Granny let him know that she was in desperate need of a few things from the store. He left to go back to work and noticed a hubcap sitting on the side of the road. Nobody was around and there was no way to trace the original owner, so he stopped, picked it up, and got back on the road. A few minutes later, he saw another hubcap lying on the side of the road. He also retrieved that one and continued back to work. Moments later, he noticed a store that bought used car parts… so he stopped in, sold the hubcaps, and was given just enough money to buy the ingredients she needed to make bread. He went to the store and bought the ingredients, dropped them off at the house, and still made it back to work on time.
No, God did not leave a briefcase full of hundred dollar bills on the side of the road, but He left just what was needed to meet the need. He showed himself faithful in such a way that neither of them would ever forget His faithfulness. They did not forget and they encouraged people to tithe whenever they were given the chance. Granddaddy has been gone for eighteen years now and his faithfulness in giving to the Lord is still evident in Granny’s life. She has not been shopping in years; yet, she has more clothes than I do – all given to her by others. She continues to tithe on her Social Security check and she never ceases to tell others how much God has blessed her. She is the epitome of a cheerful giver.
My grandparents were not rich, but they never went without what they needed. When I was a kid, I can remember them having multiple freezers full of food. When people came to visit, it was my grandparents’ mission that their guests would not leave hungry. I am convinced that their faithfulness in tithing abundantly blessed our family in more ways than we will ever know. Take some time and read Mal achi 3:10-12 again… memorize it and meditate on it. There is no better financial habit you and your future spouse can start, or continue – if you are already giving – than tithing. Teach your children to tithe as well so they can be blessed by acknowledging dependence upon the Lord – and by the time they are grown, hopefully the habit will be instilled. At that point, you just stand back and stand amazed at His faithfulness.
Are you faithfully giving to God as much as you want God to continue faithfully giving to you?