Best-Kept Secret to Generous Living

I’ve been feeling like I’ve needed to write this post for a while now as I feel like I’m going to be letting you in on one of the best-kept secrets of my life.  It’s kind of an atypical post, which is in part one of the reasons why I have delayed penning it. Another reason for putting it off has been that I just wanted to make sure that I had marinated in it long enough to make sure my intentions for writing were right.

Now, I’ve come to a place where I really do feel like I’d be doing you a disservice NOT to share about the importance of: tithing and offering.

{A tithe, by definition, is a tenth of your income. An offering is anything above and beyond that.}

First, let me start off with saying that one of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2014 was to increase my tithe and offering to 30%. It didn’t seem like a lot initially but that was until I did some calculations. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have heart palpitations and there wasn’t a little bit of sweating.

So, I didn’t start there. I started giving 10% of my net salary (a.k.a. the money I had in my bank after taxes were taken out). I’d take it right off of the top. It was the first “bill” I’d pay– my “thank you” bill to God. Eventually, I moved up to 10% of my gross income, which was honestly a big step for me. It seems petty in retrospect, but it was a defining moment in my giving. As time went on, I incrementally moved up to comfortably giving 20%. I stayed there for quite awhile UNTIL I started feeling convicted last week about it.

As in everything in life, there are always two choices: faith or fear. Even as far as I have come this year in terms of giving, fear is something I still wrestle with. Recently, I felt God express to me, “You’ve done well to get to 20%, but do you trust me with that last 10%?” Oh, bazinga.

You see… I have plenty of reasons to fear: I have a wedding that I’m in coming up in less than a week; Christmas is around the corner; and God wanted me to give MORE?! I mean I know that it was a New Year’s Resolution of mine and all, but 30% is a lot! In my pride, I thought about how lucky God was to even get that much. Then, I stopped myself in my own tracks and remembered how it belongs to God in the first place. Furthermore, God has been absolutely faithful to me. I have many more reasons to have faith.

In the last 12 months alone, I’ve had the ability to be in 2 weddings, pay off 2 credit cards, have a steady amount in my savings, AND enough money to still do fun things like travel. I immediately had to apologize for thinking that anything that I have is merely because of my own doing. If I’m honest, there are times when I look at my bank account stunned at how much is in there after I’ve paid all of my bills and even set aside money in my savings.

And as if that weren’t enough… I’m telling you, you guys, child support checks from my biological father have been faithfully coming in FOR MONTHS. I cannot even begin to tell you what kind of a miracle that is; because that was money we never thought we’d see. Ever. I tease my grandparents every time another check comes in the mail that it’s “the last one.” The truth is, no matter what happens, the miracle of it is not lost on me. I’d be okay either way, really.

Since I’ve spent a lot of time concentrating on being generous with my tithe and offerings, I have walked away with a few takeaways that I’d like to pass along:

1. The importance of “first fruits”

Think of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4). Why was Abel’s offering acceptable to God and Cain’s was not? The answer is that it was a matter of priority. Abel gave God the first and the best of what he had, not the leftovers. God wasn’t an after thought. He was the first thought. There is something to putting things in right order that is biblical. When we lose sight of what is important, that’s when things can get a little screwy.

2. Being intentional

Come up with a plan. I’d strongly recommend giving with the intention of giving, not just giving randomly in a hodgepodge kind of a way. It’s important to set aside your offering and distinguish it from the rest of your budget. Decide what you’re going to give and stick to it. That doesn’t mean that you may not give above and beyond your tithe sometimes. It just means that you have a game plan. Life is a lot easier to navigate when you have some sort of a plan.

3. Listening to the Spirit’s leading

I think a lot of people need to be set free from thinking that your tithe can’t go to helping out a friend or sowing into a ministry or cause that you’re passionate about. The Church is more than just the four-walled building we worship in. Now, I think that making sure that your home church’s electricity bill is paid is important as well. However, I would encourage you to think outside of the box and allow yourself the freedom to give, as you feel led to. One of my favorite conversations with God is, “Okay, where do you want this money to go this week?”

I’d be remiss in telling you that I came to this place without the wisdom and counsel of those who have gone before me. Most notably, a friend’s recommendation of “The Blessed Life: Unlocking the Rewards of Generous Living” by Robert Morris was one of the best things to happen to me. It revolutionized the way that I looked at giving this year. Also, Bob Goff’s “Love Does” was helpful as well.

Above all, my hope and prayer is that you don’t live off of a second-hand experience of God’s faithfulness from my own story. Everyone’s journey is different. My story is not your story and your story is not my story. However, we can all do well to learn from one another and try new things based on the recommendation of a friend.

Dear friend, my encouragement to you is to try it out for yourself. Try out generous living and see what God does for you. Although the reward is not the reason for our giving, it’s nice to see it when it comes back around. With that, I leave you with this blessing:

“Bring all the tithes (the whole tenth of your income) into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now by it, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Micah 3:10).

The following is from a friend whom I asked to review this post before I published it. A praise report before it was even published?! Praise God.

Photo Dec 08, 5 16 41 PM

 

 

  • Ebonee Rice

    Gosh. Wrecks me every time! Doing a heart-check and no longer just guessing how much I should give. He doesn’t just randomly and halfheartedly give to me. He’s intentional and delighted to bless me. I’ll start mimicking my Father’s heart when giving. Thanks for sharing!