Growing up, I always went to Sunday School and Vacation Bible School (Christ Lutheran Church in Monterey Park, CA). I finally got old enough to join the church choir and the high school youth group! I just loved everything about growing up in the church. I loved the Bible songs and stories and participating in Sunday School plays. I loved wearing my choir robe and coming in the sanctuary singing a hymn. It was just part of what my sisters and I did while growing up.
One important thing I do not remember learning about though was giving. I mean, we dropped coins in the offering plate sometimes, because everyone else did, and, if my mom remembered to give us some money, but I don’t remember ever being taught about setting aside some money to give to God. Seriously! Why would I do that?
I stopped going to church when I got to be “too old” (I think I was the magic 18 years old then and, of course, I was doing more important things with my time). However, once I became a mom, I thought about the need to have some spiritual guidance for my kids and returned to church after about a ten-year absence! Like most people, I dropped something in the offering plate each Sunday, not thinking too much about why it was important, or needed, or anything much really. I just did it, because, like when I was young, everyone else did!
It’s funny, because I don’t remember what got me on track with a regular giving amount but something did. It could have been a sermon or just a better understanding of what the Bible says about giving, I honestly cannot remember, but I finally decided to give a regular amount each month. It was not a tithe (10% of my income – that seemed like tons of money which I did not have!) but it was something like $50 a month. I was a single mom at the time bringing home less than $1200 a month so giving $50 was a BIG DEAL for me.
It just got to be a habit…. a really good habit I might add! I liked giving the money and it felt good giving that amount. I never felt like I didn’t’ have enough money to live on or pay my bills either. It was actually kind of amazing. I was starting to learn you can never out-give God! I wasn’t’ rich or on solid ground financially at the time but I always had enough to get through the month! Literally…it was month because teachers only got paid once a month!
After I remarried, my husband and I decided it was time to take a leap of faith and give 10% (a tithe)! Do you know how much faith that took? Not only that, we had learned it was 10% of your gross income not the net take-home pay! YIKES! Were we crazy? Probably, but it ended up being a REALLY GOOD crazy! I mean, like I wrote earlier, you just can’t out give God! He just has this way of taking care of your needs. There is a set of verses in the Bible about taking care of us just as he takes care of the birds of the air, the lilies of the field, and the food that we eat (Matthew 6: 26-34). Even as I paraphrase these verses, I feel a sense of peace and I know that peace comes from the promise of God. I can tell you that for over 30 years, I have felt the peace of God about my giving even when it was just $50 a month. Giving (with a joyful heart – 2 Corinthians 9:7) is just the best thing ever. It fills your heart with joy knowing you’re honoring God and helping your church bring people to know Him better. (“Know Jesus and Making Him Known.”) Like it or not, money is part of the equation.
Having a hard time with this? Many people do so you’re not alone. Here are some ideas you can use: Ask God for guidance about your giving. You might need to start by asking how much to give or maybe even for a better attitude about giving at all. Ask Him to help you learn how to be a cheerful giver, not necessarily because the Bible says that (although that is a good reason) but because giving cheerfully can actually can make you cheerful!
Hey, I’ve been doing this giving stuff for a very LONG time. I’ve gone from a few coins, to a regular amount, and finally to tithing. Start with an amount you come up with after asking God for guidance. If tithing scare you to death, don’t even worry about it. God knows what you can do so have a little chat with Him and keep it cheerful! You will not regret your decision. Seriously!