One. No one ever starts tithing if he waits until he can afford it.
Everyone I know needs a little more money than they have now. Suggest that they take the first 10 percent of their income and give it to the Lord through His church, and you’ve asked them to do something extremely difficult. It’s a tremendous faith decision and was probably even meant by the Lord to be hard.
So, underline this, highlight it, capitalize it: BEGINNING TO TITHE IS TOUGH! Always has been, always will be–for everyone. No exception.
And yet, there is a little deception that plays in the back of our minds. “We will start tithing when we get the next raise.” A better job. Past these bills. When the kids leave home. Come into our inheritance.
But it’s a deception. It is not going to happen. If you’re not tithing now, having more money is not going to make it easier to begin.
Anyone who begins to tithe does so when he cannot afford it. You just take it off the top, write that check and with perhaps a little fear and trepidation, give it to the Lord in prayer, and go forward. Faith.
Expect it to be hard for a while and for your fears to well back up each payday. Do not do this automatically; do it prayerfully. Let your check-writing and your offering-giving be acts of worship, both at the kitchen table and in the church pew.
We might should emphasize that tithing is not the end-all and be-all of the Christian. It’s one aspect and only one of a full Christian life, one characterized by devotion to the Savior, dedication to the Word and prayer and worship, and by obedience in every area of life. We must never mislead some carnal church member to think that if he starts tithing, he’s going to get something from God.
First, give yourself to the Lord, then give what you have to Him. In turn, He will give Himself and what He has to you, and you will come out the winner, believe me!
Two. After the first year or so, tithing becomes easier.
What happens is that you adjust your lifestyle to the new reality. Perhaps you get a raise or a new job and more money is coming in, and you are able to continue tithing without the pain you had the first year. You’re so glad you started, and now you look back and realize that beginning to tithe was like starting on a diet: the hardest part was deciding to start.
Everyone’s experience is not the same, so we mustn’t overstate the case here. However, the experience of most people is that after the first year of tithing, it’s like you have climbed a steep stairway and come out onto a higher level. What is this new level?
Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21) Your child goes off to school in a distant city and suddenly what happens in that town becomes your concern. Your treasure is there; your heart followed. Likewise, you will care far more about the things of the Lord when you start investing in God’s work financially. Jesus said so. You actually love the Lord more and take more pleasure in the work of the Kingdom.
Will you have to deal with pride? If you’re like the rest of us, you will always have to deal with that monster and not just about tithing. He shows up at the strangest times, wears the most surprising disguises, and has one overriding goal: to deaden your spiritual life. Which in turn will neutralize your effectiveness for Christ.
So, stay humble before God. Stay on your knees in prayer. This Christian life is not lived in the flesh.
Three. No tither ever comes down to the end of his life and regrets it.
Jesus said, “Lay up treasure in Heaven where moth and rust do not corrupt and where thieves cannot break through and steal.” (Matthew 6:20)
The way I read that, our Lord is saying that while “you can’t take it with you,” you may send it on ahead. Giving to the Lord here on earth is laying up treasure in Heaven. A type of divine alchemy, if you will.
I don’t explain it; I just believe it.
Some years ago while pastoring the First Baptist Church of Kenner, the Lord impressed me to challenge our people to begin tithing for three months–June, July, and August. We were to “test the Lord” and see if He would not keep His word in Malachi 3:10 to “open the windows of Heaven” and bless. (Many pastors have pointed out this is the only place in Scripture where we are invited to test God. So, we’re merely taking Him at His promise and not acting presumptuously here.)
We did not stipulate what those blessings would be–some might be financial and some might be far better than money–we would leave that to the Father.
This was the kicker: at the end of the summer, anyone who decided God had not keep His promise could receive all his money back. Such requests had to be made in writing.
One fellow got his money back, the church had the best summer’s income in decades, and several members wrote letters with glowing testimonies of the Lord’s powerful work in their lives.
We gave the emphasis a name: “Summer Blessed.” As in, make this a “summer blessed” of the Lord. Of course, some wag got hold of it and said, “Summer blessed and some ain’t.”
Which is always the case, I suppose. Personally, I want to be among the blessed.
Here’s a wonderful scripture the Father has been impressing upon me. “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be dismayed by the king of the Assyrians or by the multitude with him. For the One with us is greater than the one with him. With him is only an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.” (II Chronicles 32:7-8)
My “daughter” Mary says, “How many times does the scripture tell us to be strong and courageous!” I doubt if anyone has counted them, but the fact that God keeps repeating it ought to tell us that it’s a biggie.
Strength is an inner thing but courage has to do with an outward challenge–meeting an enemy, facing a crisis, going forward when fears are working overtime and you’re close to retreating.
It takes courage to witness for Christ in a secular environment, to stand up for the right when you’re in the minority, and to take on the powers that be to get them to do the right thing. But it also takes courage to step forward in a worship service and confess that you are a Christian, to be baptized publicly, to make yourself get out of bed early Sunday and take your family to church, and to rearrange your schedule to read the Word and pray each morning. It takes a great deal of courage to write that tithing check, particularly at the start.
But for those who begin tithing, I’ll tell you a special little open secret, one so many who read this blog know and treasure. It’s another Second Chronicles scripture and a real keeper. “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro in the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” (16:9)
The Father wants to help you do right. And He promises to be there ready to assist when you make up your mind to start.