Jason shares a personal testimonial about tithing, and answers the question, how much should you tithe in retirement.
Below is the full transcript:
Announcer: Welcome back America to Sound Retirement Radio where we bring you concept, ideas and strategies designed to help you achieve clarity, confidence and freedom as you prepare for transition through retirement. And now here is your host Jason Parker.
Jason: American, welcome back to another round of Sound Retirement Radio. So glad to have you tuning in this morning. It’s my good fortune to have Emilia Bernal back in the studio with me. again. Welcome back Emilia.
Emilia: Thank you Jason and good morning everyone.
Jason: Good morning. Man, what a great day. I’m excited to get into this episode, we’re in number 180. And the topic is tithing in retirement. This is a question we’ve been asked by several different people so I thought it was time to address it but I want to start the morning right two ways. First by renewing our mind and then with a joke. So the first that I have for us it’s actually a couple of verses. So a friend of mine just shared this one with me the other day and it’s what inspired this whole topic that we’re going to be having. But this is First Chronicles 29 verses 10 through 17. So it’s a little bit long but stick with me because it’s really good.
“David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly saying ‘Praise be to you Lord, the God of our father Israel from everlasting to everlasting. Yours Lord is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours Lord is the kingdom you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you. You are the ruler of all things and your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now our God we give our thanks and praise your glorious name. But who am I? And who are my people that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you and we have given you only what comes from your hand. We are foreigners and strangers in our sight as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow without hope. Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your holy name comes from your hand and all that belongs to you. I know my God that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.'”
So that’s kind of a long one but it’s really good. So Emilia you got a joke for us this morning.
Emilia: I do. Okay so this I kind of a I don’t know if Pac-Man is an old school but … So what does Pac-Man like to cook with?
Jason: I don’t know.
Emilia: A wok, a wok, a wok, a wok, a wok, a wok.
Jason: A wok, a wok, a wok, a wok. I like that. That’s funny. Do you think kids these days know who Pac-Man is? Pac-Man’s still around, isn’t he?
Emilia: Well I’ve seen some games and I know that they’ve re-did them on apps on phones but I don’t know. Yeah I just was like am I getting the sound right, I couldn’t remember in my head what the sound was like.
Jason: Video games have come a long way.
Emilia: Oh yes. Yeah I’m definitely not a gamer myself but yeah that was pretty funny but I might have another joke later on if we have time.
Jason: So this episode is number 180, Tithing In Retirement. The way that it came to be was I’ve had several people reach out to me and the question they ask is they say “Jason, now that I’m retired how much should I tithe?” And the reason they ask the question is because in my opinion the verses that they’re referring to like in Leviticus where it talks about, well the specific verse in Leviticus is 27:30 and it says “And all the tithe of the land whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree is the Lord’s. It is holy to the Lord.” And so there’s these teachings in the Old Testament that say a tenth of your income you give. And so now that you’re retired you don’t really have income anymore. You have income maybe from Social Security but you’ve paid into Social Security so that’s money just being paid back to you. A lot of the people we serve tithe as they were building their retirement accounts so they tithed on their income as it was coming in but now they’re pulling money out of these accounts and so the question is well geez do I tithe again now that the money is coming back out. And it’s a legitimate question and it’s one that’s been asked a lot. And so that’s why I wanted to kind of get into this a little bit.
Before we do though Emilia there’s a couple things I want to say. First of all in every group that I belong to or in the studies that I’m with in the church that I attend everybody that I know of is opposed to what they call the prosperity gospel. And the prosperity gospel summed up real simply is the only reason that you give is to get something back. And so that I hope is not what people take away that this is a prosperity gospel kind of teaching or thinking today.
The second piece is as we talk about tithing because it’s such a personal thing for people. And we need to address it. There is another verse that says and this is in second Corinthians, it says “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.” So we don’t want to make this legalistic I guess is what we’re trying to avoid talking about. But as we talk about it the only way that I know to talk about tithing is to share a little bit of my own testimony and a little bit of my own story. And boy this is uncomfortable for me but I’m going to share it and I’m hoping that we have enough time to get through it all because we’re getting ready to republish the second edition of my book and so I’ve shared this story in the book. And so I guess there’s two things I’m asking for.
Number one is some grace from our listeners because some people are going to listen to this and they’re going to think “Man Jason you really got this wrong.” But I’d like to hear from them if they believe that to be the case. The other is though I would love to hear other people’s stories about what they’ve learned about tithing, how it kind of came about in their own life. And so we’re going to post this episode on Facebook. And so for our friends on Facebook maybe in the comments if they would be willing to share their own story I would just love to hear it. But I’m going to share a little bit of my story.
Emilia: Thank you for doing that. I think it’s great.
Jason: Yeah. So sometimes people look at the life that I have today and they think “Oh man this Jason guy sure it’s easy for him because he’s got a great family and he’s got a great life and he’s got a great business and he’s doing well financially.” But that’s not the Jason … I mean the Jason people see today is not the same Jason that was around 15-20 years ago. And so I’ll never forget kind of as I start to tell the story a little bit about my testimony.
When I met my mentor Dean I was at a phase of my life in my 20s where I had been raised in a Christian family. I went to church on Sunday. But by the time I was into my mid-20s I started hanging around with some different people and I decided that I didn’t want anything to do with God. So I called myself an atheist. An atheist is a pretty bold statement because what it’s saying is that absolutely you can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that there’s no such thing as God. And when I realized what a bold statement it is to say that you’re an atheist I said “Well that’s a little bit too bold for me.” So then I adopted the title of agnostic. I’m not going to believe in God until somebody can prove to me that there is a God. And boy I’m so fortunate that God proved to me himself that there is a God.
But so I share that initial part because I want people to understand that we’re all on this journey together. And some of us have messed up we’ve gone down different paths that have not been good. But when they tell the story of the prodigal son in the Bible I can really relate to that story because I was this person who had kind of turned their back on God and walked away and then I’ll never forget. I mean it was such a amazing moment the day … I’ll never forget the moment when I asked the Lord back into my life but I’m not going to tell that whole story now.
Emilia: I think that’s great. I think overall just having your faith and being able to express it and share it with others all in good, all in good ways. And it’s great. It’s a beautiful thing.
Jason: It’s good yeah. I mean we’re all on this path together and some people you think they’ve just got it all together and life is just perfect and we’re all broken, we all need a savior, we all need grace and love and forgiveness. And we all want peace and happiness and joy and confidence and clarity and that’s the reason I’m always trying to point people to the good news of Jesus because I really don’t think you find that in your money. The tagline of the book is “Clarity confidence and freedom.” But I really believe that you find that through a relationship with Jesus and so that’s why I’m always trying to point that direction. At the same time we’ve got this money thing that Jesus talked about, taught about a lot. And it’s something that we need to understand in and be good stewards of.
- So now I’m going to share this section. It’s not a chapter, just a section of the book. It’s called The Importance of Tithing. And I’m just going to read this because I took a lot of time thinking about how to write it as I wrote it. And then we’ll finish up. If we go over the 25 minutes that we have for the radio we’ll try to make all of the show available for our podcast listeners. But I hope to get all of this in for the radio show as well. So here goes.
The Importance of Tithing. “I heard Dr. John Maxwell say in an interview that God created us to be a river, not a reservoir. God gives to us what he knows will flow through us. At church on a Sunday morning one of the pastors said that when we give we open up a space for God to come into our lives and our communities and work his miracles. A good friend of mine who is known as a hard worker and earned his living in construction had been out of work for more than two years and what he taught me one Sunday morning changed my life. We arrived at church a few minutes late this particular Sunday morning, the music was playing and the congregation was standing as my wife and I walked in and found a seat. I looked over and I saw my friend, we’ll call him Jim to protect his identity standing with his wife. He had been on my mind a lot lately. Being unemployed while raising his children and trying to maintain his family was taking a toll on him. He is one of the hardest working people I know. He had a great reputation for the quality of work and his work ethic. Every once in a while he would find some temporary work that would give their family a little financial boost.
This particular Sunday his wife was singing eyes closed and slightly raised at her waist and tears streaming.” Boy it’s hard for me to remember this story but “-tears streaming down her face. A few days earlier she had told me about how she was worried about her husband. She was worried about their family and their financial strain was taking an emotional toll. When the music stopped the pastor gave a quick introduction and the elders of the church began passing around the offering plate. As the offering plate came to Jim and his wife I saw her write a check and place it in the offering plate. My heart sank. My good friend who had been unemployed, struggling to find work, under a strain because of the financial burden was placing money in the offering plate.
Up until this point my wife and I had never been very good tithers. We would give small amounts of money here and there but never regularly and never very much. I was humbled by our friend’s obedience in tithing at a time when he did not have a lot to give. My heart was touched that Sunday and on the drive home from church my wife and I talked and we came up with a dollar amount that we decided to start tithing on a regular basis. What makes it so hard and embarrassing is that we had been very blessed in our finances. Our company was experiencing incredible growth. We were saving a lot and we were taking amazing family vacations. Tithing was not a concept I understood. Any little bit I gave was very hard for me. No matter how much we made, no matter how much we saved I never felt like we had enough to be able to tithe.
After a few months of tithing at the level that we had originally agreed to I realized that we were shortchanging God by 50 percent. I knew that the Bible had instructed us to tithe 10 percent of our income and I realized we were only tithing 5 percent. For a family who had not tithe on a regular basis up to this point the 5 percent tithe was uncomfortable for me but I remember thinking if I’m ever audited by God then I don’t want to explain why I decided to only give half of what he asked of us. So after a few months we increased our tithe to 10 percent. My hand would shake and I would let out a sigh every month I would write that tithe check and I’d pray “Dear Lord help me depend on you.” But after I’d write the check I remember feeling a sense of calm, a sense of peace. I was beginning to let go of the idol that I had made money into.
Time passed and I was sitting with my CPA in December looking at our personal and business finances for the year. My tithe had been constant every month at 10 percent of the amount of the salary that I paid my family which I think is an important distinction because as a business owner you have income that’s coming in and revenue that’s coming in but I was tithing based on my salary. We had a good year in business and there were a few opportunities to give an offering above our tithe. This was the most our family had ever given in tithes and offerings in one year. I began to feel my hands opening and releasing control. I was shifting from grasping and holding on so tight to every dollar to realizing God was in control and I was learning to depend on him.
As I was working with our CPA she tallied up our tithes and offerings for the year. Then she calculated the net profit for our company and when she told me what our net profit was I realized that our tithe and offerings that year matched almost exactly to the penny 10 percent of my company’s net profit. Because I was tithing 10 percent of my salary and not based on what the profit of the company was I was surprised to see that the correlation between my tithe and my company’s profit was so close. So another year went by, we continued to tithe at 10 percent but the offerings we made the second year were a little bit less. Once again in December I was sitting with my CPA and she tallied our tithes and offerings then our net profit from our company and our tithes and offerings had decreased that year and so had our net profit. And once again the amount we gave worked out to be almost exactly to the penny 10 percent of my company’s net profit for that year.
The first year that this had happened I thought it was a fun coincidence but the second year this happened I almost fell out of my chair. Having this happen a second year really captured my thoughts and around this time I read this verse in Malachi 3:10 that says “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse that there may be food in my house. Test me on this as the Lord Almighty and see if I will not throw open the flood gates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” I know this sounds crazy but I felt like God was saying “Jason, you can trust me. I’ll keep my end of the bargain if you trust me.” This verse in Malachi says to test me in this. Well I asked my pastor friend about that because there’s another versus says “Never test God.” He explained to me this so simply. He said “Jason, don’t test God except in this one area.”
In our third year of tithing I decided to test God. I began tithing 20 percent of my salary. The past two years God had been faithful and I was wondering if our tithe and our company’s profit were somehow linked. I was wondering if this at all had just been a happy coincidence or if there was something more to this. In December of the third year when I was sitting with my CPA I knew my business had had the best year we had ever had. We tallied our tithes and offerings and then she tallied out net profit. Within a few pennies our tithe was 10 percent of our net profit. I remember getting goosebumps. I was almost in tears. I exclaimed “Wow.” I shared my with my wife what had happened. And what made this even more remarkable was that we had decreased our number one marketing strategy by half and at the same time our profit still increased. And that doesn’t make any sense to decrease your marketing, double your tithe but to see the profit increase. And I’m reminded that his ways are higher than our ways.
Tithing has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever learned. It has helped me to believe that I can trust God, that he is good for his promises. I’ve learned that tithing is not about money, it’s about where you place your trust. I’ve learned that when you’re uncomfortable in your faith then your eyes are opened and you can see things you may not have otherwise seen. I have learned that my treasure is not in my bank account. My treasure is in heaven and that is where I want my heart to be. My friend taught me that it’s not about our money that we should trust in. When you trust God by tithing what you’re saying is that you have more confidence in what God will do in your life than what money will do. I’m also reminded that people are always watching us. People watch how we live our lives and that it’s not about what we say but what we do that matters. Watching my friend tithe that Sunday morning changed my life. He’s never” … Man still this story just gets to me.
But he has never said a word to me about being faithful or tithing. We’ve never talked about this story. Through his actions, his trust and his example I’m beginning to learn what stewardship means and what it means to trust in God. My family gave at a time when we had an abundance but he gave when he did not have extra to give. And I was reluctant to share this story because I don’t want to bring attention to my family’s tithing. At the same time I want to share God’s goodness, God’s faithfulness and encourage others to depend more on him. I also believe that sharing our faith journey is a family legacy. I think future generations of my family should know about the foundation that we build our lives upon. My friend Frank Reed is somebody that has helped teach me about tithing. He wrote a book called In God We Trust Dollars and Cents. And this is a good book if you want to learn more about the importance of tithing. But as always the best resource is the Bible.
To quote the book of Luke 12:34 it says “Wherever your treasure is there the desires of your heart will be also.” And so I’ve got a bunch of scripture that I’ve been collecting about tithing that we include on that Facebook post. But that’s just a little bit of the story, my story on tithing and then I wanted to tie it all together here with answering this question that people have which is-
Emilia: Retirement. How do things change in this different time in your life. It’s a different part of your life that you’re looking into. So how does that shift over? Is that what we’re talking about and the future?
Jason: Yes. So one of the things, last week we shared that verse about Jesus wanting to be our friends, I’m so grateful for friendship because this verse that I shared at the very beginning was First Chronicles 29. I got to go on a hike with a good friend of mine the other day and he had shared with me how there was an opportunity to give and what he was originally planning to give and then he read this verse and he just realized that he could do so much more and he wanted to do more. But it was this verse that really shaped and influenced his life. And as I’ve thought about that question because again I think it’s really easy to try to be legalistic and tithing on our income. My friend Frank said “Yes of course you should tithe as you’re pulling money out of those retirement accounts because you probably didn’t tithe on all the growth that they experienced over the years and so now as the money is coming back to you you’re tithing on the increase.” That’s when I had this conversation with him how he explained it to me.
But I still don’t think that’s what God’s looking for. He’s not looking for this legalistic approach to tithes and offerings. What he’s looking for is the heart of the giver. He wants a joyful giver. And he says “Decide in your own heart what to give.” But this verse in First Chronicles 29 as my friend and I were out walking and hiking the trails the other day. When it shares David. So one of the most influential kings of all time and he’s just kind of sharing in verse 14 here, he says “But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” And so it’s just David grappling with the same thing. He says “It’s all yours in the first place, I’m just giving it back to you.”
And so I don’t think it’s a legalistic issue. When people are trying to make this determination about tithing in retirement I think it’s a hard issue. And I think if you’re tithing at a place where it’s a little bit uncomfortable for you which I hope it is because it still is for me. I still struggle with this every time I write my tithe check. I hope it is because what it allows you to do is see things that you may not have ever seen before, it opens your eyes to see how God’s working in your life when you’re really truly depending on him and not trying to do it on your own.
So again one of the reasons I didn’t want to share this story Emilia is because I don’t want to be held up as an example for what is to be expected because I know I’m gonna mess up and I do mess up all the time. And I would even go as far as saying I’ve messed up even more. So you hear the story and you think “Well geez Jason you doubled your tithe to 20 percent and then you had your best year ever. Obviously the logical thing would have been to double the tithe again. Cut the marketing completely and just doubled …” But I didn’t do that. I actually cut my tithe back that next year and I went back to 10 percent just because I was so uncomfortable. So I don’t want people out there thinking “Oh Jason’s got this all figured out.” Because that’s not what I’m trying to say. Just trying to share my story about how tithing has impacted my life and I hope that people are being uncomfortable in their giving because I think it’s just a wonderful thing.
Emilia: Well I think overall Jason just again thank you so much for sharing that. Even though you felt so vulnerable I think it’s going to resonate with some of our listeners and really help them to understand things and maybe if they’ve been contemplating where is my heart when it comes to this, am I just doing it to get something back like you were saying-
Jason: That’s the wrong approach yeah.
Emilia: And I think hearing your story and hearing the story of your friend who continued to tithe even when he had nothing, I think that speaks volumes as well because that triggered something in you and this could do the same for others. And thank you again for sharing.
Jason: Yeah like I say we’re all in this faith journey together. And the good news is look it came together right at our time limit but I just encourage our listeners … Listening to Episode 180. Again we’re going to post this on Facebook, this particular episode. And I would love our community to come together to share their own story because it’s … Now for some people this isn’t a hard thing. Giving is very natural to them. It hasn’t been the case for me, it’s been a learning process and I’m continuing to learn through. So anyways Emilia until next week sign out. Oh did you have one last joke for us before we-
Emilia: I could throw another one in there.
Jason: Okay, one last one.
Emilia: Did you know that I’m in a band called Missing Cat?
Emilia: You’ve probably seen our posters around town. Do you get it?
Emilia: That was probably a really bad one.
Jason: I don’t get it at all.
Emilia: Missing cat posters, get it?
Jason: Alright until next week.
Emilia: Well that was a bad way to close out the show but there you go.
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“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.”
“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’”
“In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 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. 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. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.
Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.
His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”
Proverbs 3:9-10 NIV
Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.
Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.
The greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the Lord will prosper.
2 Corinthians 9:7-8
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. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:12
This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.
2 Corinthians 9:10
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.
2 Corinthians 8:7-9
But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving. I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
1 Timothy 6:17-19 NIV
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
1 Chronicles 29 14 NIV
But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.