So, one of my good friends yesterday sent me a message yesterday asking me some questions, and it inspired this particular post because I wanted to explain why I tithe, in case there are more people out there with the same kind of questions.
I feel like tithing is not an option, but rather, a necessity. The bible gives us instruction to tithe to the church. A Tithe is a 10th of your income. Anything more or less is an offering, a gift. So don't call it a tithe if it's not.
When Jonny and I first started attending St. Mark, for the first few months, prior to starting FPU, and even into the first month or two, we gave what we "could." We knew it was important to give, but 10% of our single income while he was not working was enough money that if we kept it for ourselves, it would make things easier...
That's not entirely true. In our experience, tithing is like an emergency fund; it's Murphy Repellant, as Dave calls it. When you have an emergency fund in place, your emergencies are less severe, and less frequent. Prior to having an emergency fund, a flat tire, or medical bill, or other kinds of unforeseen expenses would have been put on a credit card, because that was the only way we were able to handle it. Since creating the emergency fund, emergencies don't appear to happen as often - and when they do, it's only a minor inconvenience, rather than a catastrophe.
Like I said, in our experience, tithing kind of feels like an emergency fund to us. When we started tithing - rather than giving a small offering, our finances seemed to fall into better shape. We "found" money we didn't know we had, and we learned to better manage the money we DID have, so that it stretched further, and wasn't such a tight squeeze to make ends meet. Over the summer, Jonny had a temporary job which helped kick start some of our debt. Sure, it wasn’t permanent, but by that point, we had been living on one income for over 6 months, and the budget we had worked, so we continued living on that budget, and his extra income from that temporary job went only to debt (and, the tithe that was required from it).
I've listened to Dr David Jeremiah on the radio at night in regards to what it means to tithe, and why it's important. Dave says some similar things. Basically, what they've said is that our money is not ours. EVERYTHING we have is because of God. Yeah yeah, I know some of you out there are rolling your eyes about the freakish religious aspect of this post by now and how I must be a brainwashed Christian. Um, no. Just because someone is a Christian doesn't mean they are a brainwashed psycho. I'm not trying to change your mind, just letting you know why I feel it's important to tithe.
My church has been wonderful for me, and our transition in Columbus. I swore after I left the military, I'd NEVER leave home again. Well, I did - sort of. Yeah, it's only 2 hours, so it doesn’t really count, but 2 hours is still far enough away from my friends and family, that I get a little homesick from time to time. I've gotten really involved in the church, and it's helped make Columbus feel more like home. So in one sense, I feel like I owe it back to the church, for helping me. Here's an analogy that my sorority sisters will love: The same way that a sorority is fun and games, but needs money to operate on - a church has a responsibility to the community. Guess what? The church needs money to fulfill that responsibility.
I have friends who say "I can’t afford to tithe." Really? 10% is enough to make or break you for the month? If that's the case, you really should look at where your money is going and cut some unnecessary expenses. You don't NEED a cell phone at $150 a month, catch my drift? If you can’t afford to tithe, then Christ "can't afford" to reward you for being good managers of the money He gave you. We've all heard the story of the master with 3 servants, who gave the first servant 5 talents, the second 2 talents, and the last one 1 talent. The first 2 used their talents and made them grow, and I think, if I remember correctly, they at least doubled their money at the end of 1 year. The 3rd guy buried his talent in a hole for fear of losing it, and the master was displeased with him because he hadn’t used it to do anything with.
Basically, it's like this. If you can’t afford to live on 90% of your income, you can’t afford to live on 100%. If you can't show God that you are smart with your money, He has no reason to reward you with more. People say they can't afford to tithe, but I say; how can you afford NOT to? Yep, my 10% a month is a big chunk of change that could certainly go towards my debt snowball. But as luck would have it, if I didn’t give that 10% per month to the church, my financial luck would diminish. I'd have broken down cars, and medical expenses, other unexpected costs that my poor little baby emergency fund couldn’t not Murphy Repel for me, and then I‘d need that 10% - OR MORE - to cover those catastrophes. I am not willing to take any chances. God blessed us when we started obeying. Why would I start disobeying now?