Our monthly budget – a single Catholic school teacher’s salary – would be a lot easier if I weren’t taking out 10% of it off the top every month. In our budgeting program, tithing is the first thing we budget for, even before our mortgage. It is hard to see such a significant chunk disappear before we even get to touch it.
Think of all the things we could do with an extra 10% in our monthly budget. Vacations. New cars (or at least new to us cars). Clothes. Dinner out on the town. Date night. Babysitters. A new dining room table. The list could go on and on, but that really isn’t the point.
When it gets difficult to give 10% away rather than keep it for ourselves, I have to remind myself that it wasn’t ever really ours in the first place. Ultimately it is God who is in charge of all our money. He gives us a paycheck every month. Sure, there is work we do for it, but it is God who bestows all good things on His people, including our paychecks.
Tithing isn’t necessarily about giving back to God. God doesn’t need our money in much the same way that He doesn’t need our praise. Instead, tithing is for us. It reminds us to trust Him, and to trust that He won’t be outdone in generosity. Tithing reminds us that this money isn’t ours. He gives it to us so we return a portion of it to His works and causes as a way to say thanks, and as a way to show our trust in His providence.
When I quit my job tithing became harder since we had to start pinching pennies like we didn’t have to when I was working full time. It isn’t all hearts and roses, money doesn’t just appear on our doorstep or in our bank account, but we’ve found time and time again that when we are generous with God – with our time, our talent, and our treasure – He is generous in return, blessing us all the more.
It wasn’t until I got married that I really started to tithe well, all the way up to that 10% mark. I tried to justify it in other ways, especially since I worked (mostly) part-time for the Church and didn’t get paid much to begin with. After all, if I’d taken a “regular” job instead of working for the Church, I could have made a lot more. In that sense, I saw my meager salary as a tithe in and of itself.
Since getting married and making tithing a habit, it has helped to deepen my faith. There are times I’d like to cling to that money just like I’d like to cling to my sense of control over my own life. Instead, tithing asks me to step out of the boat, literally put my money where my mouth is, and trust that it will all work and that the Good Lord will actually provide. Tithing stretches me, it stretches our bank account, but most importantly, it stretches my faith as I surrender our finances to God.
“Here you go, God, here’s your portion, a sacrifice of praise, a sacrifice of finances. I trust in You. I know that what You give – a house, a husband, a child, a paycheck – none of it is really mine. All these blessings come from You and all You ask in return is some portion of praise and sacrifice. Grant me a sacrificial heart for the good of Your Kingdom. Amen.”