I can honestly say that the Lord’s call upon me to tithe was one of the biggest opportunities for spiritual growth in my life. Through it, I have learned to love and trust Jesus more than I thought possible.
My wife, Lizzie, and I began to tithe when we left for seminary in 2003. We were so grateful to God for the incredible financial support we received, and it seemed only natural to thankfully give away one-tenth of the gifts given to us. Ironically, giving at this time seemed easy. We were blessed with support, our expenses were relatively low (food and rent were pretty much it), and our health care was completely covered by the British Government.
Everything changed In August 2006. I was a newly ordained Priest making $42,000.00 a year with a mortgage, car insurance, self-employment tax payments, a $3000.00 deductible for my health insurance, and a young family. My daughter, Charlotte, was 3 years old, and our son, David, was three months old. This meant that Lizzie couldn’t work. In addition, David was just beginning to undergo a three-year treatment plan to correct his club foot. I ran the numbers, and I didn’t know how we were going to pay our bills much less give anything away. It was too risky. What if God didn’t come through for us? It was a stressful time.
Stressful times have a way of showing us our idols. Idols are those things we turn to save us when we are in danger, or, put more bluntly, idols tell us “serve me, or die.” With all of these financial worries hanging over me, the concrete dollars in my bank account seemed much more reliable than God. Money pays doctor bills. Money pays for new tires. When times got tough, I put my life in the hands of money (even the little bit I had) to save me.
In October of the same year, the Church where I was working had its annual time for Stewardship. I was now a leader of that Church, and I felt compelled to tithe the minimum of 10% of our pre-tax income. If I wasn’t in leadership, I wouldn’t have done it. I was scared, but I felt that I had to or else I would be a poor leader. As Lizzie and I discerned, the Holy Spirit also continued to encourage us by speaking about God’s faithfulness to us through Matthew 6.19-34.
So, we began to tithe. We lived on a strict budget and prayed A LOT. We sacrificed. But an amazing thing happened: we didn’t starve, we weren’t evicted, we paid our bills, we paid our taxes, and our children weren’t going to school in burlap sacks. We weren’t getting rich, but the Lord provided for us in ways that we never imagined possible. There are so many examples, but I will just give you one: Through the advice of friends, we found a government program that paid for the medical bills incurred treating David’s club foot. Medical expenses that we thought would easily add up to $4,000.00 a year disappeared.
As the Lord provided miracle after miracle, what began as an obligation again became a response of thanksgiving. The Lord showed himself trustworthy month after month. Slowly, I began to realize that I could trust Him. He would not abandon me. He would not abandon my family. And if I could trust him with our physical life and well-being, than we could certainly trust him with our eternal life and well-being through the promise of the Cross.
Lizzie and I have tithed every month since then, and while there have been difficult months, the Lord has never abandoned us. As you converse with the Lord about what you should give this year, please don’t miss this opportunity for the Lord to show you that He is even greater and more loving than you could ever imagine.
God Bless You,