Tithe. I don’t know about you but for me, this small and seemingly simple word packs a pretty intimidating punch. I grew up in the church and was taught about tithing through scripture. If you’re not familiar with this term, it is defined by pledging one tenth of an individual’s annual income to the church.
A couple of years ago, my husband and I realized that we were missing a crucial piece in our relationship; we were missing church. Sure, we have family and friends but we didn’t have a strong community of Jesus followers to help guide us and build us up – enter stage right, Cedarbrook Community Church. We fell in love with our church and with the community it offered us. Every week we attending, we met new people and began to form genuine relationships and quickly realized that this was where we belonged. Shortly after we begun attending, we decided to go through the membership process and make this thing real-life official (not to be confused with Facebook official which, we also did). That next year, Ryan joined the praise team. I too had every intention of auditioning for the praise team but was told they didn’t need a cowbell player. It’s probably best (for everyone) that I keep my worship in the audience and off the church stage. Long story short, we found a church, became members but never started tithing.
Tithing was something that had always been in the back of my mind. A quite whisper of a reminder to begin tithing next week, to dig out my checkbook and write that check, and to have this conversation with my husband. A few months ago that whisper turned into a much louder voice. It was no longer something I could just brush off or promise to do next week; I suddenly felt completely compelled to being tithing. Up until that point, my tithing had consisted of contributing whatever cash I happened to have in my wallet on any given Sunday. You would think that carrying cash is typical for someone who works for a bank, right? Wrong. In fact, it’s the exact opposite in my case. It is an extremely rare occasion when I actually have cash on hand – I’m talking like lunar eclipse rarity. Needless to say, I’m pretty sure I had tithed a grand total of about $50 that past year.
One day when my husband and I got home from church (after forgetting my checkbook for the millionth time) I just blurted out, “we need to start tithing!” I had fully made up my mind and was ready to for this new commitment until… my husband responded with a question: How much are you supposed to tithe? I didn’t even blink before answering “ten percent – duh (eye roll).” I honestly thought this was common knowledge and didn’t take into account that not everyone has the same upbringing as me. While this concept was second nature to me, it was a bit more foreign to my husband. He knew what tithing was but was totally taken back by the substantial amount we are called to give and by the fact that I was so readily willing to write off this money without thinking twice. I mean can you blame him? Ten percent is a lot of money! Especially when you’ve been pinching every penny for the past two years to save up for a wedding and to buy a house. Then, I started to question this whole “ten percent” rule – maybe it’s changed since the last time I checked. Perhaps now it is more common to tithe less like six percent rather than ten. Talk about a blonde moment. Last I checked the Bible hasn’t changed and neither have the church’s views on tithing.
I know that everyone goes through financial hardships and that we are not always able to tithe ten percent. Sometimes we’re not able to tithe at all. I get that and I believe God understands where we are in our lives here on earth. I, however, have not struggled with a financial hardship this past year. Rather than tithing, I have selfishly thought of where that ten percent can better be used ie. to paying off my credit card or being put in savings. By no means have I been living a lavish lifestyle but, I have been blessed with a good job and enough money to pay my rent, buy groceries, and afford tickets to see the new Ghostbusters movie.
From a very young age, I understood that tithing was an act of obedience and a sacrifice; God asks us to give back only a small portion of what he blesses us with. Tithing is a reminder that our treasures should be stored in the Kingdom of God and not here on earth. It has taken me awhile but, I am FINALLY ready to put this discipline into practice; to consciously give up a portion of my earnings not because I feel like it but because I am called to be obedient.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Mathew 6:19-21