Tithing is an act of both faith and worship. For me bringing my tithe and offering was more often focused on the “offering,” than the “tithing.” For the majority of my adult life I felt that tithing was something that I could not afford. After all, there were bills, and commitments to my money. My wife and I talked about tithing. The discussion always ended up at “after this loan is paid-off,” or “after we have more money.” The time and resources never seemed to “allow” us to tithe.
Several years ago, we made what was perhaps the worst financial decision of our married life. We chose to purchase a home in Midlothian before we sold our home in Williamsburg. In doing so we made two key mistakes. First, we did not take this to God in prayer. Praying “dear Lord, guide us in this decision” did not even come to mind. Worse yet, we had the attitude of, “it’s OK Lord, we’ve got this covered.” God gives us free will, and as a good parent God gave us our latitude to fail.
There was a crash of the financial markets. Months and then more than a year went by with the “old” house not selling. Meanwhile, what we had assumed to be a more than an adequate nest egg was quickly running dry. It was better late than never, that we turned to God in prayer. In earnest prayer we admitted that we had gotten ourselves into this mess, and could not escape it without God’s help. In immaturity, the prayer turned into a let’s make a deal with God. “Dear God, we will do whatever it takes to follow you.” God taught us what that prayer meant.
Susan and I, independently and simultaneously, had one thing placed on our hearts. TITHE. At the moment in our life when we felt that we could least afford it, we made the decision to tithe. It was scary, trusting faithfully that God would provide for our needs. Since that moment, we have never been left wanting for anything.
Within days, a buyer for the house appeared. And in an answer to our prayer we learned what “whatever it takes” means. God knew the balance in our bank account. We quite literally walked out of closing with barely enough funds on the debit card to buy lunch. And yet, it felt like a stone had been lifted off our shoulders.
At that point in my life, I came to learn a very important lesson. It isn’t my money. It never was. Everything we have is a gift from God. Mankind doesn’t make anything. We only use what God has provided for our purposes. God wants us to tithe, but of our own free will. God never forces us to do this. It is a simple opportunity for an act of worship. Tithing also acknowledges the source of our provision. On Sunday, we sing it in the Doxology: “praise God from whom all blessings flow.” But do we really mean it?
As the nation of Israel wandered in the wilderness, God provided manna for them; daily. And yet there was still fear of what would happen if the manna was not there tomorrow. It is an exercise of faith to depend upon God to provide for our needs. Even if we don’t see how we can “afford it,” the honest truth is we cannot afford not to tithe. To do so, pushes God away at the very time when we may need God most in our lives.
Written by Tom & Susan Gilsdorf
This series is designed to give RRCB members an opportunity to reflect upon their own generosity to God. In reading their stories, we pray that your own life of generosity is encouraged and challenged as well.