When I became a Christian in college, I had a lot of friends who were raising support to go on missions trips both stateside and overseas. Because I couldn’t go—for multiple reasons I won’t go into—it was my joy to support my friends as much as I could financially and prayerfully.
It’s still my joy.
We currently support eight friends in full- or part-time ministry on a monthly basis, and I love it. (I wish we could support more, but we’ve reached a bit of a limit!)
When I was an undergraduate, I counted this support as part of my tithe. I had heard that it “counted” at some point, and I went with it because, you know, it was convenient. But when Andrew and I got married, and he disagreed, we had to make a decision. Would we give ten percent to our church and use extra money to support others, or would we divvy up ten percent of our gross income between missions support and the church?
We went with the former, and I have felt nothing but peace about that. I wholeheartedly believe that ten percent of our gross salary should go straight to our church, and we should set aside other money to support our friends. I don’t have the Bible verses to clearly back me up here because I understand that verses can be read in a variety of ways to support either argument, but this is our conviction, and we’re sticking with it.
Of all the ways God calls us to be obedient, tithing has to be the most bittersweet.
I love tithing, but now that we’re out of school and making real-person money, I feel a twinge of worldly pain when I click “submit” on our church’s website, especially now that we’re 100% focused on saving up for a house. Every other week as I set up the tithe (we tithe after every pay cycle), I think, man, if we didn’t tithe, we’d be in a house so much faster or geesh, our tithes from the last couple of months could pay for a really nice vacation. Most of the time, I voice these thoughts to Andrew, and he always says the same thing: “If we didn’t give it to God, He’d find another way to take it away.”
It’s true. The money is His, anyway.
And that always makes me feel better. There is so much joy in sacrifice, and I get to experience that joy every other week and each time I look through Mint and see that our automatic support payments went through to our friends.
I think the worldly pain I feel is normal—of course my flesh would rather use that money in a self-serving way, but tithing is a test of obedience and faith. In fact, I think it might be the only thing that God tells us to test Him with (Malachi 3:10). And He has never failed us.
I don’t share this in a “hey, look at us, we’re such wonderful Christians!” way. We suck just like every other human being on the planet. I share this because I love tithing so much, and I want to encourage you to tithe, too, if you don’t already. I once read that if all church members tithed 10%, the church could do some ridiculous things—like end global hunger and provide clean water throughout the world. To me, that’s more important than putting 20% down on a house sooner rather than later or going on fancy vacations. And I have a hunch these things are important to you, too.
What are your thoughts on tithing? It’s something I think we need to be more open about, so let me know what you think in the comments!
Natalie currently lives in the greater DC area with her husband, Andrew, where she works as a Technical Writer/Editor for a global IT company.