Giving is part of our Christian heritage. Time and space would fail to tell all the times we are encouraged to give and the benefits and the blessings that are enabled from giving. Ah yes, we as Christians just love to give, to sacrifice to help others in need. It’s in our DNA, right?
Now lets talk specifically about money. Giving money. I am purposely pausing to give all those that just took off for greener pastures. Now I am probably only talking to just you, the one reader left to hear what I have to say about giving MONEY.
When I became a Christian and my church encouraged giving. Ten percent to be exact (although it went up to 13%) it really didn’t mean much to me. Oh sure, there was an account of where and how the money was spent, at least generally but we were taught that it was scriptural, biblical, God’s plan to keep the church going and it was just downright our duty. So I gave without question. I became detached from the blessing of giving, it was a duty, my job, my responsibility, just something I was supposed to do.
After a while I didn’t even feel bad about fudging the books, you know, skimming off the top when things got tough on the home front. I stole from my Church.
When I left the church tithing was one of the first things to go.
Now lets not confuse our “God-given duty” to tithe with giving.
I love to give, I just don’t believe I need to be forced to tithe.
Giving should always be a matter of the heart. No matter what it is your giving but since we are talking about money I will tell you what I have learned since leaving the church over 16 years ago.
Giving is personal, or it should be. I never had a problem giving when it suited me, the need was clear and I could justify who and why I was giving. I became the judge and jury on where I gave my hard-earned cash.
Then one day not too long ago God sent down a challenge, an incentive if you like. It came in the form of scripture, one I am sure you are quite familiar with and have had it masterfully or better yet bluntly directed to you in some Sunday morning sermon over the years.
“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse that there might be meat in my house and prove me now herewith saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open to you the windows of Heaven and pour you out a blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.” Malachi 3:10 (KJV)
Still with me? Don’t run for the hills just yet.
Yes, it spoke to me, after fifteen years of putting tithing not only on the back burner but far away in the outhouse.
The Lord was challenging me. You tithe to me, in a way that is totally different from what you have been taught and I will personally not only bless you but bless you so huge that you will find it hard to know what to do with it.
Ok God, I said, I’m up for the challenge. I will do it but you do your part and the key was “prove me now herewith”. In other words God was saying you do your part by tithing and this will put me to the test to keep my side of the bargain.
We shook hands and made the pact. I started putting aside ten percent (that is the percentage that is left over from my old life) but I didn’t know what to do with it.
Long story short. I learned when God was tugging at my heart to give in situations that came across my path. Situations that I would in the past analyse immediately. “Should I give money that I probably need more? What will the money really be used for? Can I trust who I am giving to? Is it a sham?”
But the Lord taught me to recognize when he was putting it on my heart. I wasn’t always sure in the beginning but in time that little tug on the heart became a pounding. The only decision I had to make after I got the “tug”was how much.
I would always start low and begrudgingly work my way up, ever so slowly ever so slightly until I put it off until I was sure of the right amount.
I can still feel God chuckling at me when going through this agonizing process. After much trial and error I started to realize that God was already showing me “how much”. It was the first figure that popped into my mind.
I am still learning to trust God’s voice but more importantly I am able to accept that first figure that pops into my mind.
The great thing about putting aside the ten percent is that when God tugs at my heart there is always money in the coffers to give.
Has He opened the windows of Heaven for me yet?
As I daily look to the heavens I am sure I can see cracks starting to form. It’s just a matter of time.