I have heard that giving is a gift. I had not thought much about this phrase until lately, but it is very true. Giving is a place–a laboratory, if you will–where we learn to trust God.
First of all, there is tithe. God tells us how much to give: 10% of our increase. He gave us this opportunity so that we can see how He blesses and cares for our daily needs when we obey. Sometimes it just doesn’t seem like we will have enough to survive if we give that 10% first, but He is always faithful. Tithing is a microcosm for the rest of our lives: If we learn to obey in this area, we see that God is faithful and can be trusted in the other areas of our lives. We can obey and surrender all areas to Him–not just our finances–and, if we follow His leading and do life like He asks us–we will be blessed.
If tithing is a life-lab, our offerings are the advanced course. He doesn’t tell us how much to give, just asks that we do. I have always given by percentages, but in a board meeting a few months ago, a dear friend talked about something they had done in their home. She said that she and her husband had, at a certain point in their lives, wanted to give above what they had already given. They told God that they would give part of any “unexpected money” they received as an offering. I loved that. So, I told God that with the church’s finances hurting, my husband and I would give as an offering half of any unexpected money that came to us.
Let me tell you, He knows how to bring in unexpected money! The funny thing is that he has even shown us that He is doing it. Sometimes the expected money has been less. But the unexpected money has been really and truly unexpected. It has come from crazy places and in surprising amounts. The first unexpected amount was $18. Such a small amount; would we be faithful? The next amount significantly larger: $500. Again, would we be faithful when the stakes got bigger? The unexpected just keeps happening. I have never been to the bank so many times in such a short time…
In my life, tithe and offering had gotten to be just another place to write a check. Oh, I was very faithful with that check, but it was just another place to send money. Now it has become a place of blessing. I think that is why God says, “Test me. I want to show you I am faithful. I want to teach you to be like me–faithful.”
Photo credit: Julie Escobar