If you're struggling with your finances, you probably find tithing a difficult concept to deal with. After all, how can you possibly consider giving God 10 percent of your increase (what we would call our income today) when you don't even know if you can pay the mortgage and feed your family this month? I know the feeling. I've been there. But, tithing is part of the Christian walk and is, in my opinion, the cornerstone of Christian finance.
Do you know what God had to say about the children of Israel when they neglected to tithe? He called them thieves, in Malachi 3:8-9, saying they had robbed him. They were obviously confused and asked how. His response? "In tithes and offerings." Not only that, he said that their failure to tithe had brought a curse on the whole nation! Have you read the curses in Deuteronomy 28? Trust me, you don't want to bring the curses on you and your family.
But, God is good. He didn't stop there and say "sucks to be you!". He gave them a challenge, a challenge that he offers to each of us today. God basically said, "put me to the test".
"Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the LORD of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it."
~ Malachi 3:10
Now that's a pretty good promise, but God didn't stop there. The next verse is even more amazing. To the tither, God promises:
"... I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,
So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground,
Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,”
Says the LORD of hosts;
And all nations will call you blessed,
For you will be a delightful land,”
Says the LORD of hosts.
~ Malachi 3:11-12
I don't know about you, but that's exciting news. I know I have been given the power of attorney to use the name of Jesus in my life and circumstances. But God says that HE will rebuke the enemy for me so that he won't destroy my hard work and steal the fruit of my labor. God says that others will look at my life and say that I'm blessed by God. How awesome is that?
You see, God doesn't just bless us so that we can have things, he blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others. He blesses us so that others see our lives and want to know what we have going on. It's his kindness that brings us to repentance. If we allow God to bless us, then we allow him to bless others through us.
So, how do you tithe when you don't have enough money as it is? What you don't do is pay your bills and creditors, buy your groceries, and see if you can manage to have enough money left over to tithe. That's an upside down budget. Your tithe should come right off the top. Before you pay anyone else, before you buy groceries, before you pay rent, you tithe. After you tithe, you pay yourself. After you pay yourself, you take care of the necessities (mortgage, utilities, food) and with what's left over, you pay bills and creditors.
I know it seems like it can't possibly work. But, I guarantee you that if you are faithful to God, before long, a financial miracle will occur. I can't explain it. I can only tell you it does work. When I wasn't tithing, I was struggling in debt. But, when I decided that no matter what, I was going to tithe -- if I didn't eat, I was going to tithe; if I didn't have electricity, I was going to tithe; if I couldn't put gas in my car, I was going to tithe. The interesting thing is, I always ate, I paid my bills, I even paid off my debt.
Life's little emergencies were covered by gifts, extra jobs, mistakes in my checkbook, asking for and receiving favor. I never lacked for anything I needed. Did I have everything I wanted? Not necessarily. But I had everything I needed and usually more. And most of the time those things we want turn out to not be so important after all.
I can't stress enough the importance of tithing. If you aren't tithing now, start. Don't tithe out of obligation. Tithe out of love and thankfulness for all of the blessings you have received. God wants to pour out his blessings on you. Give him back his portion so that he can. Prove him now. Your act of faith will be rewarded.