I remember a time when there never seemed to be enough money. It’s not that my wife and I were in poverty or had this unquenchable thirst for more. There just always seemed to be a lot more month than there was paycheck. Growing up in a Catholic church and then later spending time in other denominations, I was familiar with the idea of giving money to the Church. Various pleas through sermons and campaigns had convinced me there was always a shortage in the Kingdom of God. The idea of giving seemed like a noble thing, but I tended to give only when I could control to what cause and in an amount that didn’t hurt so bad. I wasn’t inclined to tithe. I mean, a whole 10 percent? Maybe if I had a really good week and all of my other wants and needs were taken care of. If there was anything left, I was happy to give some to God.
But then God spoke to me.
We don’t give to get, but we get to give.
My wife and I were serving at the Asheville Campus in North Carolina several years ago when our founding pastor, Greg Surratt introduced a new series called “The Blessed Life.” To date, that series has been one of the most life-changing for us. The idea that we don’t give to get, but we get to give was a very fresh way of thinking about generosity. In other words, our motivation to give shouldn’t be to get something out of it, but rather as Christ followers it is an honor to be such peddlers of hope, that we’ll share in the joy of simply being obedient to the call of generosity on our lives. The series taught us that releasing our first portion back to God builds this level of trust that invites him to bless every aspect of our lives.
We’ve not only tithed consistently since then, but we’ve been led to exercise generosity to others above and beyond our first 10 percent. Sometimes, led by the Spirit, we’ve doubled our tithe for a season. We’ve never regretted saying “yes” to an invitation to trust God more. My wife and I have had some years that we’ve earned less. We’ve added two children to our household. We’ve even cut back some work hours to make room for regular Sabbath. But through it all, God has met all of our needs.
“If he’s the God we read about in scripture, he can do way more with the first 10 percent of our check than we can with the whole 100 percent.”
There are so many stories of God’s faithfulness in our journey—some downright bizarre. I could share about the time someone blessed us with a car when we desperately needed one, or the time when our first child was born and someone anonymously gave us the ability to pay off our hospital expenses. God has opened doors that seemed impossible. I don’t want to give you the idea that God is a vending machine, but he is worthy of trust. He’s got you! When we’ve allowed this trust to flow through us, we’ve been able to experience the blessing of passing generosity to others time and time again.
His invitation for deeper relationship is always open, and we’ve learned that part of that invitation is growing in how much we trust God. If he’s the God we read about in scripture, he can do way more with the first 10 percent of our check than we can with the whole 100 percent. We’ve learned to shift our paradigm. It’s not me who earns money—rather, it’s God who provides.
In Matthew 6:21, we read, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” It’s easy to be turned off when talking about money in church, but the fact is, it’s important to God. Scripture references money in over 2,000 verses. Compare that to verses about prayer; there are about 500. And we know how important prayer is! But God knows the close connection between what we hold dear and where we put our finances. We’ve trusted God with our first portion for several years and the Lord continues to provide all we need. Our family has seen, firsthand, God is faithful.
- Read scripture that references money, like Ecclesiastes 5:10, Hebrews 13:5, and Malachi 3:10.
- Pray that God would give you wisdom on how to steward his money to grow your faith.
- Make a difference by tithing your first ten percent to the Church. If you’re already tithing, pray that God would open your eyes to see where you can give above your tithe.