Originally published Wednesday, 17 August 2016.
Here we go! I thought, as I rolled my eyes, crossed my arms, and sat listening to the pastor one Sunday morning. He was preaching on the importance of the tithe. I can’t really tell you everything he said, because honestly, I tuned most of it out. You see, I had not been going to church for long. I had attended as a child, but fell away for some time, and was just now becoming acclimated to my new church, and now this! The pastor had the nerve to speak on tithing.
I was a single mom. I had no money. “Someone needs to go ahead and give a good offering to buy this man a new truck, so we can move on to a better topic next week!” I thought to myself. I was bitter and angry for my own financial woes. I thought surely that was what this thing was all about – the pastor needing something new.
But as the next several weeks passed, his words wouldn’t leave my mind. The concept of the tithe was not new to me. I was raised in the church and knew the Bible commanded the giving of a tenth of your increase back to the Lord, but seriously?! I was a single mom! I had no money! I was making only a few hundred dollars a month to raise my two children. The use of government assistance was the only way I even made ends meet. The tithe seemed so outlandish. Yet, I thought about it. I prayed about it. I argued with God about it. I knew God was prompting me to give. So I did. I wrote my first tithe check and put it in the offering plate as it passed through. Nothing miraculous happened that day or the next or many others to follow. I just kept giving. I actually felt good about it. I knew I was living in obedience to something God had prompted on my heart to do. And most importantly, I learned that my giving was flowing from the love I had for my Heavenly Father and not because He needed my money. I gave cheerfully, not because of what I expected in return or what I thought I deserved, but because of all He had done to save me.
The more I gave, the more I was blessed. I was blessed in many ways, emotionally, spiritually, and financially. Over the next several years, I moved away from government assistance, had my broken heart healed through His grace, and made a decent living. All of those things, I believe, were blessings from my obedience to the tithe. Let me be careful here. I am not suggesting that we tithe to be blessed – that God is somehow our magical genie that we rub and make demands. I am not even suggesting that if you do, God will deliver you to some financial dreams of yours. I am simply saying that for whatever reason, unbeknownst to me, God chose to bless my financial obedience. There have been many years of ups and downs for me financially since then, but one thing has remained — my desire to tithe and give offerings to bless others.
The same is true for you, single mom. You can tithe. In fact, I would assert to you that you cannot afford NOT to tithe. God’s command on our finances doesn’t have a caveat that reads, “except if you are a single mom.” God says to tithe. He says to give 10% of your increase. And although I came under criticism from some for tithing to the church while I was taking money from the government, I did it anyway. I would much rather be criticized by the world than to live in disobedience with my Savior.
This is not a condemnation to those who don’t tithe, but rather an encouragement to those who feared that they couldn’t. It is an encouragement that our God is faithful. He shows up in ways we can’t even imagine or ask for. And our willingness to give cheerfully to the body of Christ is about so much more than our own pocketbooks. It’s about seeing those who have come to know the God that we do and in some way, just showing Him that our whole hearts trust His plans of hope for us.
Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and speaker, whose personal journey through homelessness, abuse, and multiple teen pregnancies is leaving audiences around the globe riveted. At 19, Maggio was pregnant for the fourth time, living in government housing on food stamps and welfare. She shares with great openness, her pain, mistakes, and journey to find hope in Christ. She ultimately became an 11-time Circle of Excellence winner in Corporate America. While a vocal advocate for abstinence, and sustaining today’s marriages, Maggio recognizes that single parenthood exists and is passionate about seeing these parents thrive. She left her corporate successes behind to launch a global initiative to see single moms living a life of total freedom from financial failures, parenting woes, and emotional issues. Her passion is contagious, and her story has been used to inspire thousands around the globe. Today, Jennifer works to ensure that no single mom walks alone as the founder of the national profit, The Life of a Single Mom. For more information and resources, visit the website HERE.