I remember driving to work one day and having this unexplainable urge to call and tell my husband “We need to find a church to tithe to.” That does not sound odd, does it? Well at the time we did not have a church, and truth be told my husband and I were very divided on the subject. My husband listened patiently as I went on about this feeling that I had deep in my gut that we really needed to find a place to give ten percent of each paycheck. I remember reading in the bible when I was younger than those who tithe are then blessed by God. With the debt collection letters quickly piling up around us, a result of my husband’s multiple layoffs, I remember desperately thinking the only way we were going to get out from under the mountain of debt was going to have to be a blessing from God. My husband said, “Yes you are right we need God’s blessings but how are we going to give to a church when we can’t even agree on where to start looking.” So the idea was quickly shelved and the gut feeling I had was pushed aside.
Fast forward two years, a job change due to another job loss, and a move later, my husband and I had been attending church off and on but had yet to fully commit to calling this particular church our home (that would come a few months later). The debt collectors were hot on our trail and the stress had driven us to our knees in desperate prayer for God to help us find a way out of the mess we had gotten ourselves into. About that time that gut feeling came creeping back in telling me again that we needed to tithe. I approached my husband again fully confident he was going to tell me I had completely lost my mind. This time we had a 25% wage garnishments to add to the equations and we were barely able to pay the bills we had! Now I was expecting him to take an additional 10% and just give it away?! Imagine how shocked I was when my husband instead turned to me and said “You are right. Next time we are in church we will tithe a full 10%” I about fell over!
The following payday we sat down for our budget meeting and sure enough there was no money left to tithe after all the bills were paid for. We fought with our budget and tried every which way we could think to fit in tithe after all the bills. It just did not work. There was simply no money left. Then it dawned on us. Why not tithe FIRST then pay the bills with what is left. Why not try putting God first. When the budget was said and done with tithe coming out first, food in our cupboards, a few bills paid and gas to get to work there was less than $10 in the bank to make it the rest of the week. It took every bit of strength we had to take our tithe to church that weekend. This little bit of money was all we had left. We had bills we could not pay. And yet we were on our way to give away what little we had all because I said I have a feeling we should do it. Even now as I write this I understand how crazy this sounds. We sat down in church and together we placed our first tithe in the envelope. Then I panicked! What if something happens? What if we run out of food? I have never had empty cupboards in my life but there I was freaking myself out over any little thing because we were about to give away the last of our money. “I know what I will do…..” I told myself “I will only give half the amount we brought. Surely God will understand things are tight and that we may need this money. After all, He is God and this little amount can not mean that much to him.” I took out half the money and then sealed the envelope. I wish there was a better way to explain to you guys what happened next. God told me “You must give it all.” Now I am not saying I literally heard a voice speaking to me. But at that moment God definitely let me know that he wanted all I had to give. Let me tell you I fought it! Hard! I was not going to give it all. Besides I had sealed the envelope. What’s done is done I told myself. If our payday is bigger next week we will give extra then. The offering plate was literally at the end of our pew and I could not shake the feeling that God was telling me that I had to give it all. All of it, because it was not mine, to begin with. I took out another envelope put the cash in it and angerly sealed it up just in time to add it to the plate. “Well, then YOU are going to have to take care of us,” I told God. Then I sat there pouting like a three-year-old through the rest of church services. It was not that I did not want to give to God but I was upset that I was not doing it my way, on my terms, or when I felt comfortable with it.
A friend of ours has told us countless times “You can not outgive God.” Let me tell you how incredibly true that is. Ever since our first tithe, God has shown up every single time we have needed him, and then some! If we tithed $100, within that same week we received an unexpected refund check for $107. If we tithed $80 he returned $100 worth of extra hours for my husband to work. The more we gave to Him the more He showed up and took care of us. The blessings that have been poured out on us since that day are too many to count. We have never missed a rent payment, we have never gone hungry, and we are starting the new year with less debt than we have had in the last ten years! Needless to say, our tithe is a non-negotiable now.
When people ask me how we have been able to make the progress we have on our large amount of debts and how they can do the same I always tell them we start with a budget, and the very first budget item I tell them to start with is and will forever be their tithe. Why? Because we have learned that when we put God first, even if there seems no money left, He will take care of the rest. When we stopped questioning the math and instead trusted God to provide for us, He made our “nothing” stretch further than we ever possibly could stretch 100% Try it yourself and see……………Someway somehow if you pay your tithe first your bills will still be paid, your family will be fed, and your need will still be taken care of.