A good friend, who was known as a hard worker and earned his living in construction, had been out of work for more than two years.
What he taught me one Sunday morning changed my life.
We arrived to 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 saw my friend, let’s 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 his work and his work ethic. Every once in 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, hands slightly raised at her waist and tears streaming down her face. A few days earlier she had told me how she was worried about her husband. She was worried about their family and the financial strain that 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 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 this 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 money 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 we had originally agreed to, I realized that we were short-changing God by 50%. I knew that the Bible instructed us to tithe 10% of our income. I realized that we were only tithing 5%.
For a family who had not tithed on a regular basis up to this point, the 5% tithe was uncomfortable for me. But I remember thinking if I am 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%.
My hand would shake and I would let out a sigh every month I would write that tithe check. I’d pray, “Dear Lord help me depend on you.” But after I would write the check, I remember feeling a sense of calm; a sense of peace. I was beginning to let go of the idol 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% of the amount of salary I paid our family. We had a good year in business and there were a few opportunities for us 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. She then calculated our net profit for our company. 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% of my company’s net profit.
Because I was tithing 10% 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 our companies profit was so close.
Another year went by. We continued to tithe our 10% but the offerings we made the second year were a little bit less. Once again December arrived, and I was sitting with our CPA. Once again she tallied our tithes and offerings and then our net profit from our company. Our tithes and offerings had decreased that year and so had our net profit. Once again the amount we gave worked out to be almost exactly to the penny 10% of what my company’s net profit was for the year.
The first year this 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 the verse Malachi 3:10
“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 know this sounds crazy but I felt like God was saying Jason, “You can trust me. I will keep my end of the bargain if you will trust me.”
This verse in Malachi says to test me in this. Well I asked my pastor friend about that because there is another verse that says to never test God. He explained this to me 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% of my salary. The past two years God had been faithful. I was wondering if our tithe and our companies profit were somehow linked. I was wondering if this had all just been a happy coincidence or if there was something more to this.
In December of that third year, when I was sitting with my CPA, I knew my business had the best year we ever had. We tallied our tithes and offerings, and then she tallied our net profit.
Within a few pennies our tithe was 10% of our net profit.
I remember getting goosebumps. I was almost in tears as I exclaimed, “WOW.” I shared with my wife what had happened.
Tithing has been one of the hardest things I have 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, but it is about where you place your trust.
I’ve learned that when you are 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 is not our money that we should trust in. When you trust God by tithing what you are saying is that you have more confidence in what God will do in your life then what money will do.
I’m reminded that people are always watching us.
People watch how we live our lives and that it is not about what we say but what we do that matters.
Watching my friend tithe that Sunday morning changed my life. He has never said a word to me about being faithful or tithing. We have 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 that we had an abundance.
But he gave when he did not have the extra to give.
I was reluctant to share this story because I don’t want to bring attention to our families 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.
Below are some of my favorite verses on tithing.
In the comments section below please share a verse or a story about tithing.
“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.