Aaron and I have been tithing our entire marriage, and along the way, God has taught me a lot about idols in my life, His provision, my willingness to trust Him, and my willingness to receive generosity. We have had several seasons in our life where I’m sure people would have given us an “out” and told us it was okay not to tithe, yet we did not feel that was an option. Here are just a few examples:
- When we moved back to Duluth in 2004, we had to sell our house in the cities and this resulted in 2 mortgages for 4 months. We were to the point of not knowing how we were going to do it one more month, and then our house in the cities sold.
- Aaron has been unemployed 2 times for several month stretches. The first time I was working full time but things were still tight, while the second time we had just had our third child, and I was home full time. The only income we had was unemployment, and since that was our income, we tithed out of it. God proved faithful, and eventually Aaron had a new job, and all of our bills were paid on time along the way.
- Aaron and I both went to private colleges, and as a result graduated with a large amount of college debt (mostly mine!). We are still paying it off today. It would have been easy to say there is Biblical ground for being debt free, so we should be able to put of tithing until our college debt is gone. However, our understanding of obedience in the area of tithing has led us to faithfully pay down our loans, while still tithing and giving generously above that along the way.
- As one career path came to a close, Aaron incurred a very large amount of business debt. The bank called and said we needed to pay it all off within 4 years. This resulted in the first monthly payment of $1200 (gradually getting less each month). Who has that lying around?????? Miraculously, by God’s grace and provision, as well as the generosity of others, we were able to make all of our payments on time, and pay off the debt while continuing to tithe.
Aaron and I are the first to admit that we have made many poor financial decisions (especially early on in our marriage). Yet, we have made an effort to learn what the Bible has to say about money and finances, and we have made an effort to bring our financial decisions in line with our convictions.
For a long time, I have struggled with the idol of financial security. Years ago, God showed this to me and has been helping me see that ultimate security can only be found in him. He has faithfully provided for our family along the way, and while this may look differently than what I would have planned, he has provided what we need. My idol then morphed into being debt free…wait??? isn’t that Biblical, and a good thing? Yes! However, my desire to be debt free wasn’t completely for the right reasons. In my mind, mature, financially wise Christians are debt free, and so I desired this more for making us look good than for honoring God with our money. In my heart, my desire to steward my money well was not always driven by pure motives. Thankfully, God has graciously revealed this to me, and although I still desire to be debt free (and we are working towards that), it is now motivated by a desire to steward our resources well, and to be able to be more generous. I have learned that there is no magic formula with tithing such as “if you tithe, you will be debt free and have a large retirement account by age 30”, however, I can confidently say that if you are obedient to God, he will provide.
Over the years, God has also taught me about pride and humility. I love being able to give to others…but because of pride, it is harder to be on the receiving end. It can puff up ones ego to be seen as the “generous one” and can be very humbling to be the one provided for. We have had family and friends pitch in to help when things were really tight, which was humbling, yet also a blessing to see the Body of Christ helping one another. As we have seen this displayed, we have been encouraged and have also had the opportunity to be a blessing to others! There have been several times we have been able to make the decision to be generous, rather than getting or doing something we want, and this has brought us great joy and increased our affections towards the recipient of our gifts.
So, although we have had reasons why we could have “justified” not giving, to us, obedience to God’s word has meant tithing and being generous every step of the way. And guess what? God has always proven himself faithful.