Growing up in Christian culture, I always knew tithing was important. I watched my parents tithe regularly and donate to charity, but it was easy for me to justify not tithing. In high school it was because I needed to save money for college and what difference did my puny little tithe from a minimum wage job really make? In college it was because I was a poor college student. After I graduated and got my first real job, I still had an excuse for not really tithing because I barely made enough to pay my rent and eat more than mac-n-cheese every night.
But two things radically changed how I viewed tithing and helped me to actually want to tithe and be generous.
The first was a truth I learned from a Crown financial class I took through my church (I highly recommend taking advantage of any financial class your church offers. Having a biblical perspective on money matters is such an important foundation). We learned that just as spending can be an idol, so can saving.
I always thought of saving as a good thing, and the more money in savings, the better, right? But defining security and safety by the amount you have in saving is making an idol out of saving. Essentially, saving too much can show a lack of trust in God’s provision. Of course, it’s wise to save money and have enough to cover unemployment, car or house repairs, etc. But if you’re a saver, then consider capping your saving amount so that anything over that amount can be used for giving.
The second is something I heard on a trip to Kenya with Compassion to meet my sponsored child (if you ever get the chance to take a trip to meet your sponsored child through whatever organization you sponsor with, GO!).
One of the Compassion field workers explained that the opposite of poverty is enough. Not wealth, not a specific yearly income, not anything material. I started thinking about what enough looks like in my life. After seeing the amazing work that Compassion does all around the world, I wanted to do more and give more. And it started with realizing I had not only enough, but a ridiculous amount of more than enough. I was challenged to live my life by giving out of the enoughness God had given to me so that others could have enough. Giving became less about calculating my 10 percent but about seeing poverty in the extreme and realizing I could do something about it, because nothing I have is mine, anyway. It all belongs to God, and we simply get the privilege of giving it back to Him.