The mystery of tithing.

I’m very passionate about tithing. Sometimes I’m not incredibly responsible about it, but it’s always something I feel strongly about. Monetary tithing, I mean. There is the thought that you can give your time and your talents, and while this is an essential part of our Christian walk, it is important for us to financially trust in the Lord.

A few years ago I started thinking of how we say “tithes and offering” when we pass around a collection basket at my church. Are these words synonymous? They are not. A tithe is a percentage (10%, traditionally) of your wages/crops/etc. An offering is something offered in worship or devotion, something given as a gift. This is how I’ve come to think of it: a tithe is 10% of what I’ve been given, and an offering is anything that is not that. If I earn $10 babysitting and I put .50 in the basket, I’ve given an offering. If I earn $10 babysitting and I put 1.00 in the basket, I’ve tithed. If I earn $10 babysitting and I put $1.50 in the basket I’ve given my tithe AND an offering.

I love that God doesn’t expect us to give more if he gives us more. Numerically, the number will change, but he just asks for a percentage. and 10%, such an easy number to figure out. The reality of tithing is this: it doesn’t benefit the Lord. He doesn’t need our money. John 21:9-10 says this:

9When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
10Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”

Notice what it says in verse 9. There was already fish cooking, and yet Jesus invited Peter & co to bring their fish. Not because he needed it.. but because it was a way for them to present Jesus with part of what he’d given them (they weren’t catching any fish and Jesus was like.. hey put the net on the other side.. then they got a lot of fish). The Lord has all the fish and all the money in the world.. and beyond, because these are not things he HAS to have. God has no use for our money.. he has unlimited resources and chooses to use money to be involved with us.

That said, the benefit of tithing then falls…. on us. I was talking to my [ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL] friend Sarah last week and was telling her how I felt that tithing was essentially buying blessings. I know that when I tithe, God rewards my faithfulness. It’s not always in a monetary return, though. The return has been in: new friends, unexpected money, changes in heart..

My stepmom and my dad are beautiful testimonies of the benefits of tithing. They live so simply; their house is not extravagant, nor their car. If Edna wants to go home to the Philippines, they will eat rice and beans for a month to save money. They went from being a two income household.. to a one income household after my dad hurt his shoulder.. and then Edna got her hours cut. My dad and I were talking about tithing and he said that the first thing Edna does each month is sit down and set aside their tithe. and look at how the Lord blesses them.

One of the biggest misconceptions about tithing, I think, is that God will understand if we choose to meet our basic needs BEFORE we tithe. Tithing is a matter of trust. It’s saying that even if our tithe puts us in a place where we can’t meet our basic needs [which would be food, shelter, resources to work.. gas, bus passes, etc] we trust that if we are responsible with what we have, that God will provide for us. It can be scary, but that’s when miracles happen. We all want miracles, but never to be in a position where we need a miracle. and miracles, really, are those things that happen when our resources are limited and God steps in and says “here, let me take over.”

Anyway. I just love tithing and want to encourage everyone to really make it a discipline. My prayer is that I myself will be more diligent in my tithing. and also. God is so creative. So even if you have no idea how he’s going to bless you or take care of you after you tithe..

be confident in God’s creativity and faithfulness.