Yesterday, at Next Level Church, Todd talked to us about the importance of giving. He shared a fairly startling statistic about church goers and tithing, and how the national average of people who tithe regularly is somewhere around 9%.
This is a pretty low percentage, but yet – I get it. I totally understand how hard it is to part with money. It took me a long time to develop a real, genuine understanding of tithing and a desire to be obedient in doing it.
Years ago, I was sitting in a church, listening to the pastor give an amazing sermon on giving 10% and I was SOLD. I was a struggling single mother – living on the bare minimum. No TV, no car payment, no “fun” money…just rent, utilities, groceries and daycare. I literally had NO extra money to spare. But he incited a passion in me, and I just couldn’t WAIT to tithe and feel the love of God rain down upon me.
So off I went, writing those tithing checks every pay period, literally watching my bank account sink further and further into the red. Yep, I started bouncing checks. Overdraft fees accumulated. But I remembered the pastor’s sermon, I kept on giving, and I kept on overdrawing my bank account.
Let me remind you at this time in my life, I very literally had NO unnecessary expenses. There was nothing for me to move around or sacrifice so that I could tithe and breathe easier. And I’m sure you are waiting for me to end this story with an amazing account of how money appeared like magic in my bank account and I was able to pay the bills and life has been rainbows and lollipops ever since. But that’s not what happened.
I decided to email the pastor and explain my situation. I told him how much I’d been inspired, I told him how desperately I wanted to tithe, and I told him what serious hot water I was in because of it. He responded kindly, gave me some advice and hooked me up with a financial counselor with the church. Long story short, the church was able to help me get back on my feet. What did that experience teach me? I am ashamed to admit it didn’t teach me what it should have.
Honestly, I felt kind of mad. And a little miffed – I mean, I wasn’t expecting thousands of dollars to show up at my door…but I definitely wasn’t expecting to have to be referred to a financial counselor after digging myself into a hole by following God’s word. I was kind of turned off by the whole experience, and it was a long time before I felt ready to give again.
So there I was sitting in the auditorium yesterday listening to Todd talk about how important it is to give, and I realized that without that experience, I would not be where I am today. Even though I was scared to tithe for awhile, I still attended church frequently – built great relationships, furthered my journey in being a Christ follower, developed talents and gifts I never knew I had, and probably the greatest thing of all – ended up meeting the person who will become my husband in T minus 19 days. (Sidenote: HOLY COW that is coming fast!)
My blessings from giving were not an immediate, tangible thing. Neither a brand new car or a Publishers Clearing House check arrived at my house. I continued along as a struggling single mother. But when the church helped me crawl out of that hole, it set me down a path to where I am now and that is one of the most precious and intangible blessings one can ever receive. I now know Christ better than I did before that experience. It took a long time though – none of that happened overnight and I didn’t even RECOGNIZE the blessing that came from it until yesterday.
I am hoping many people will prayerfully consider the 4 month tithe challenge and am looking forward to hearing the stories of those who do!