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My husband and I had very different religious upbringings as Christians, so when the Lord divinely brought us together at the church that he grew up at, it seemed that I had a lot to learn. One topic that was definitely new to me was tithing and giving.
When money is discussed in church settings, it seems to always make people uncomfortable. This was no different for me, but I was willing and ready to learn about what my husband had been putting into practice since he was a child, even with his Christmas money and allowance.
The major Bible verse that formed my husband’s view of tithes and offering is found in Malachi 3:
Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.
To put it simply, my husband was taught that if you did not tithe or give an offering, you were cursed, as Malachi 3:9 states. Since I was staring at these words in black and white in my Bible and listening to what was being preached from the pulpit, I quickly embraced this view, and tithing became a normal and consistent practice in our marriage from the very beginning. It wasn’t that my husband and I didn’t want to give financially as a form of worship unto the Lord, we were honestly just afraid of what God would do if we didn’t!
We gave out of a heart of fear, instead of out of a heart of pure generosity. We were also concerned about what type of harvest we would receive from the money we had sown because of how we interpreted Scriptures that spoke to reaping what we sow. We were constantly battling a selfish mentality- giving to get back in return. No matter the reason, our view on tithing and giving was completely legalistic, and it lacked genuine love, grace, and mercy.
In 2014, when I chose to stay home with my son and not return to work, we knew this decision would affect our finances greatly. We would be living on a very tight budget. I would stare at the numbers and cry, wondering how we would be able to pay our bills and continue to tithe. The numbers weren’t adding up. Because we feared what would happen if we didn't tithe, we continued to tithe/give 12% of our income. We were told from the pulpit we would open the door to the enemy to wreck our lives if we didn’t put God first in our finances. With our small income and now a baby to take care of, we actually went further into credit card debt just to pay bills and buy groceries and necessities for our son.
God always provided and reminded us of His many financial blessings, like someone buying us diapers and formula for the first 7 months of our son’s life, but we thought it was ONLY because we continued to tithe and give faithfully, not because of God’s faithfulness and goodness.
Like I said, we were terrified about what would happen if we didn't give financially. We didn’t want to be cursed or allow the enemy to steal, kill, and destroy. Before we knew it, we found ourselves in about $10,000 of credit card debt after God helped us get out of $15,000 back in 2012. It got to a point where we either ate or paid the minimum payment credit card bill. Either way, we still believed we HAD TO tithe and give offerings with every paycheck.
Then last summer, God illuminated His Word to us about true generosity and stewardship. Our eyes were opened to His Truth and we stopped believing lies that we both embraced for so many years. The Holy Spirit helped us understand these Bible verses regarding finances in context to what they really mean so that we were no longer living in fear from a legalistic view of tithing and giving. We began following Dave Ramsey's principles, cut up our credit cards, got serious about following a budget, and began giving financially out of heart of love, not fear. We gave what we could, so we weren't neglecting our strict budget, but trusted that the Lord was more concerned about us being good stewards of what He’d given us instead of following the law out of fear, obligation, or a desire to get more in return.
This change in our finances completely changed our view of God the Father and His amazing provision and grace. It truly has transformed our faith and trust in God! Just like we cannot work or strive to earn our salvation, we cannot work or strive to earn God’s provision either. He’s a good Father who longs to provide and care for His children’s needs. He is a giver and we long to be just like our Heavenly Dad!
I can't even begin to explain what God has done for us now that we give with true generosity in mind, remembering all that we own is the Lord’s and He has entrusted us to take care of it for Him while we are here on this earth. He does not want us to worry, and He has promised to meet all of our needs, and He has even showered us with a few surprises every now and then to make us smile!
Just within the last six months, someone bought my husband and I a vacation to Florida, my husband got a promotion at work that he was NOT even remotely qualified for, someone is letting us use their vehicle for free since our second car permanently broke down on us this winter, and most recently, some friends of ours have invited us to go on a vacation next summer to the Caribbean with them, all expenses paid for.
Not only have our needs been met during this sparse season, God has lavished us with His grace and love, and it is our honor to pour out all that God has given us, knowing that it is far better to give than to receive. God has been so faithful to us in guiding us to the true meaning of generosity! We are truly starting to understand the meaning of "blessed to be a blessing." We are blessing within our means, both with our finances and our time, trusting God every step of the way, and allowing Him to mold us to be more like Him- a generous Giver!
Emily Rose Massey began writing short stories and poetry as a little girl, entered the blogging world in her early 20's, and recently released her first book, Yielded in His Hands (eLectio Publishing). She enjoys being a stay-at-home momma and serving in her local church with her husband in television, worship, and youth ministry. Believing she has been forgiven of much, she loves much, and desires to point others to Christ and His redemptive and transforming power. If you would like to connect with Emily or learn more about her book, you can visit her website: www.emilyrosemassey.com