Are you kidding me? 10%! Really? ... Really? Don't even get me started about arguments over gross vs. net. The subject of tithing has been on my mind for some time. Frankly, I have always lived in a rather guarded manner where my money is concerned. Some might use labels such as cheap or frugal. However, while I am careful, I am far from miserly. But it is my responsibility to be sure that the output does not exceed the input, and sometimes less than popular decisions have to be made to ensure that this is the case. But while there is truth and conviction in what I just said about my role as treasurer, I also fully realize that my faith and trust in God is only as deep as my biggest problem or fear or concern. Are there areas of my life that I put before God? I would be less than truthful if I didn't own up to the fact that money and security for the future get in the way on many occasions. It doesn't take long to recognize that I have not given ownership or control of my finances to God. I always find a way to make excuses or avoid the issue altogether. I try to twist the truth to fit my own version of reality - the false belief that it's my money and I'll be the one who decides what to give and when to give it.
From 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, "Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 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." Well, I am a clever man, and I know that I can make these words support any argument that I want to make on the subject of tithing. But trying to be as honest with myself as my biased, sinful nature will allow, I think these words really do tell me to do my best with giving, to be purposeful, to be consistent, to be generous. The giving is not just with my money, but with my time, my energy, my talents, my mind, and my strength. I have also tried to listen for direction from God during several important seasons of giving at my church and given more.
At my old church I used to put $5 a week in the offering plate. Whenever a particular message would resonate within me, I used to joke with my pastor that he really earned his $5 that week. At that time, giving was totally new to me. Certainly outside of my own family, I was definitely not a particularly generous person with any part of my life. However, I sensed that God was quite pleased with my approach and my effort. I never sensed that he was looking down on me shaking his head in disgust. As I have grown in my faith, I have increased my giving. Certainly it's a process, a process of growing trust and understanding. While I am still well below the traditional tithing level of 10%, I still sense that God is pleased with my approach and my effort. When it is time to do something more or to step out in faith futher, I am sure he'll let me know.
(Part 2 of a 2 part series)