August 7, 2009
Learning to Give
“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV)
Marybeth and I are going to admit something that you don’t usually hear in Christian circles. For most of our marriage, we haven’t tithed regularly. Even though we both grew up in church, heard all the sermons about tithing, and knew what the Bible had to say about money. We had all the head knowledge any one person would need.
We just never participated.
When we decided to become debt free, part of our process was to recognize our need to surrender. We surrendered our mistakes, our marriage, and our money to God. We humbled ourselves, confessed our pride, and asked Him for help. Surrendering control of our money was a hard but important step to take, and we knew that regularly giving an offering to God was part of the equation.
During this time, Marybeth and I finally admitted out loud what we had always been convicted of in our hearts. When it came down to it, we didn’t trust that our Heavenly Father was really going to take care of us. Giving, we’ve learned, is an expression of love and worship, but our fear outweighed our love.
Even so, we were determined to start. It wasn’t easy. We argued with God about giving Him money that He didn’t really need when we could have used that money to pay off our creditors. Little by little, we began giving to our church. At the time, it wasn’t a full 10% of my paycheck, but it was something, and we began to develop the habit of giving on a regular basis. We began to understand that giving God 10% of our income, or tithing, has nothing to do with whether we need the money to pay bills, whether it’s an old covenant command that Jesus changed (as some suggest), something we do out of guilt, or something that will bring us unlimited financial blessings.
It’s much simpler then any of those things.
Giving God our tithe is an expression of love. We give God the first of what shows up in our checking account to acknowledge that He loved us first. We worship Him with our gift because God gave us the ultimate gift: His life, dying a brutal death on a cross to save us from the horrors and consequences of sin. We, like God who sacrificed His Son, give to demonstrate love.
When we began consistently giving it was hard, painful, and even scary to develop the habit. But year after year, month after month, we stayed committed. And now, I can tell you that nothing is more meaningful to us than to write God that tithe check.
My encouragement to you if you don’t currently give is to simply begin. Don’t be overwhelmed with what you don’t do, should do, or have to do. Just start small. Take something to church this Sunday and experience the joy of worshiping God with your money. Challenge yourself to be consistent and to increase what you give. Ask God for help and share the joy of giving with your children. Pray over your gift before you leave for church, sharing with your kids your “thanks” for the many blessings that God has filled your life with – the roof over your head, the clothes on your back, the food on your table, and His love in your hearts.
Dear Lord, I pray that You would transform me into someone who demonstrates love with the gift of my money, my time, and my talents. Please teach me what it means to be a cheerful giver. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Learning to Live Financially Free Marybeth and Curt Whalen
Determine to give this Sunday at church or write a check to an organization you have been blessed by. Don’t get hung up on the amount. Just give in response to what God has given to you. Then build from there. Pray that God would unleash a spirit of giving within your family.
Do you trust God to provide for you and your family, even when you give money that you feel you should keep “just in case”? How has this viewpoint affected your ability to give with joy in the past? How can you begin to give out of joy instead of guilt and obligation?
2 Corinthians 8:7, “But just as you excel in everything - in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us - see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” (NIV)
©2009 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Friday, 07 August 2009.