Tag Archives: money

The Gift of Tithing


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One afternoon, just after I turned 30, I decided it was time to finally read the Bible – the whole Bible – cover-to-cover, Genesis straight through Revelation, no matter how long it took. Excited and often challenged by what I was learning, I eagerly shared my new found knowledge with my husband, who wasn’t nearly as interested in listening as I was in speaking, but who patiently endured until I broached the subject of tithing.

“Is that 10% of gross or net?” he asked, slightly annoyed.

“Gross,” I replied. “I’m pretty sure God comes before taxes.”

“Do you have any idea how much money that is?”

Well, no, actually I didn’t. The conversation quickly ended with, “You can give as much to church each week as we spend on entertainment.” It wasn’t a tithe, but it was a start.

Months later, Tony walked in from work in the middle of the afternoon with a large cardboard box in his arms. “I lost my job today,” he said. “It’s time we started tithing.”

“You lost your job and you want to tithe now?”

“Yes, now. Off my severance check.”

I could barely speak. I think I stopped breathing. I definitely couldn’t believe what I was hearing. We had no income, no insurance, two young sons, and a baby daughter on the way.

What a time to test God.

Yet that’s exactly what my husband was doing. Like Gideon in the Old Testament, Tony needed assurance – tangible, unmistakable proof that God is as good as His Word – and for him there was no better time to begin. So my husband threw out his fleece – ten percent of his severance check – and waited.

God’s response was immediate and abundant, if somewhat overwhelming. Unexpected refund and rebate checks began arriving in our mailbox, so many of them that we wondered what God would possibly do next. We continued to tithe off every dollar that came in, and it didn’t take us long to discover that we simply couldn’t out-give God. The more we gave, the more He poured into our laps, “a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.” Luke 6:38

We were hooked.

Over the years, we’ve learned that tithing wasn’t the ultimate object of that lesson, Biblical giving was. Second Corinthians 8:14 says, “At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality.”

That’s why we give.

God gives to us so that we can give to others. We are blessed to be a blessing, conduits of God’s grace, mercy and abundant love to one another. Giving isn’t about a set percent, and it’s not about what we can do, but about what God can and will do through us when we’re willing.

“’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 you will not have room enough for it.’” Malachi 3:10

It’s been nearly twenty years since we started tithing. We’ve welcomed five children into this world, my husband has changed jobs several times, we’ve moved and moved again, we’ve entered the college years (our oldest will graduate this May), and our feet have walked the path of long-term illness with four of our five teens…and me. Through it all, God has remained faithful. As we have continued to tithe, God has stretched our capacity to give. Again and again. And again.

Tithing isn’t an obligation, but a gift. A lavish gift.

That my God, who needs nothing, would offer me the opportunity, the freedom, the privilege to give, to join with Him in providing for His people is remarkable.

That He would trust me that much is amazing.

And humbling. Deeply, perfectly, beautifully, only God, humbling.

For only God could extend such grace — a gift that blesses the giver perhaps even more than the receiver.

*Joining The High Calling this week as they explore the topic of tithing. Come see what others have to say!

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Money Makes Me Claustrophobic


I was asked to fill in the blank. “Money makes me ___________.” And nothing came to mind. Not a single word. Good or bad. So I set the book aside and got on with my day. Hours later, climbing the stairs with a basket full of laundry balanced on my hip, the words were suddenly there. Money makes me claustrophobic.

It does? Does that even make sense? How can money make me claustrophobic? It’s thin metal alloys poured and stamped, fibers inked and cut and folded into wallets, tucked into pockets, collected in tins and jars and plastic tubs, saved and spent and counted and owed. But a catalyst for claustrophobia?

Yet as I folded the warm whites, I began to understand that for me, money represents expectations, responsibility, obligation. I never wanted to be a “have,” but I am, and that’s where I begin to sweat, awash in my own expectations. It’s why I sold my wedding ring right after my first son was born, because that ring, exquisite and bigger than I’d ever dreamed of, brought out the worst in me. I’d turn my hand to catch the light and someone’s attention, “subtly” letting them know I’d arrived, married well, lived fortunate – a have.

An ugly truth to face at forty-seven folding laundry. But true.

It’s where I rebel. Every time. Wearing my shoes indoors and my bare feet out. Choosing plain cotton and a minivan with 116,000 miles. Because bigger, better, new comes with more responsibility, obligation, expectation than I can handle. And it brings out the worst in me. Telling me to behave. Act responsibly. Hair in place. Polished smile. Fill in the calendar squares with smooth black ink. Keep moving. Till I can hardly breathe….

Claustrophobic.

Its not money, but my own expectations that hem me in, impatience rooting like steel in my soul, forging judgment critical and harsh till I lose the wonder in the crush of crumb-free, wrinkle-free, stain-free days, perfectly polished.

Because I’m not — perfect or polished — just me. Drawn to soft, black earth and irises blooming where they weren’t planted. Camera and lens and long, slow walks. Pulling weeds, trimming trees, pen and ink and cotton and denim and fleece in every season. Strong black tea, any temperature, all day long.

Simple.

Like the plain gold band we exchanged for my diamonds. For where there is no need, there is little freedom to explore or experiment or make do, to figure it out, be creative, try, because someone can simply be hired to do it right. Today. Why wait?

Yet it’s in the creating, the doing, the figuring out and getting our hands dirty that we begin to breathe, anointed by real, drenched in awe, far from airbrushed, light-balanced, political correctness bent on masking blemish and amputating imperfection. Irises blooming, simple and real and beautiful in all their human imperfection exactly where God planted them.

And maybe…just maybe…if held in that light, money too can be beautiful.

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Written in response to the discussion with Tweetspeak Poetry of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, Week Six: Recovering a Sense of Abundance…and…sigh…submitted late.

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