Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38
I enjoy giving gifts! Finding that perfect item for someone brings me excitement and joy. Giving and not expecting anything in return, just the pure joy and blessing of giving is fun for me!
“If God can get it through you then he can get it to you.” These are the words that my pastor spoke during a Sunday morning message at my home church while I was growing up. I haven’t forgotten that statement!
You can’t out-give God. You just can’t! Plain and simple! He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10). My mom used to sing this song to me when I was little. It goes like this:
What a great reminder. When we know God and walk with Him, we not only are God’s children (joint-heirs with Jesus) but everything that is God’s is ultimately our own. Therefore, we lack nothing! That is so much easier to say than to walk in. It can take full-on faith to trust God in the area of provision!
God wants us to be dependant on him; to trust and rely on him, not to be prideful and think that we can do it all on our own. There are often months when the end of the month is nearing, another house payment is scheduled to come out of the bank account, unforeseen expenses came up that month, all expected income has already been deposited but the numbers just aren’t matching up. We are coming up short. It can be hard to believe that God is taking care of us and will provide because we put him first. We take that step of faith and show our trust and reliance on God by giving the “first fruits” of our income, also called our tithe. Tithe means ten percent of our income.
Tithing. Finances. It’s the one area in our lives that God gives us straight out permission to test Him. All other times in the Bible, he says not to test him. In the area of finances, he almost challenges us. Like, “bring it on! Let me show you what I can do!”
Malachi 3:10 says, “Test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.”Also Proverbs 3:9-10 says, ” Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.”
In biblical times, these scriptures refer to crops, that was their main source of income as well as food to feed their families in those days. For our modern-day lives, we usually apply that verse as meaning our paycheck; the income that comes in that we live on. The main goal of tithing is a heart check-up with God. Ultimately what he wants is our hearts!
God knows that money is one of the hardest areas in our lives to give away as well as to trust someone with. If we can learn to hold our hands open to God, to see all income as His provision directly from Him to us. God pours the blessings into our empty and open hands, and then we empty our hands to others as quickly as he can fill them up; God will continue to pour and pour and pour. His resources are endless! Try grabbing something while having clenched fists. Pretty hard to do! The same goes for giving something away while holding onto it with a tight grasp. Now try doing either (receiving or giving) with open hands. It’s so much easier!
Once I watched a demonstration on giving. One person stood with their hands held together, open to receive. Another person poured pennies into the open hands. The open hands couldn’t receive more until the person emptied his full hands of pennies onto the ground; in other words, he gave them away. The quicker he emptied his hands (gave) the quicker they could be filled up with new pennies. This went on and on and until the pouring was happening so quickly, because he was so quickly emptying his hands, that the receiving hands were overflowing. The pennies were spilling out everywhere. The receiver couldn’t keep up!
You may be thinking, “how can this be true?” Or perhaps you may be saying, “I put money in the bucket at church when it comes around but I’m not overflowing with money.” Or, “I try to be generous towards others.” Tithing to God and giving to others are two separate playing fields. At the end of this post, I will offer a great resource to learn more details. As for now, I will say, check your heart. Do you give to God cheerfully? Do you give with full expectancy for him to provide and do what he says he will do? Do you give just a tiny sum in comparison to your total income or do you bring your “first fruits” and a full 10 percent, expecting God to do what he says he will do and bless you in return?
Thankfully, this is an area that God started showing my husband and I before we were married and sharing our finances. Tithing was a strong conviction for both of us and an area that, with some effort and refining, we have a pretty good system down. I will say again, that this truly is a heart issue. God is not sitting in heaven with a calculator and a clipboard, making sure that you gave your exact ten percent last month or else he is shaking his head in disapproval. Not at all! God is a God of grace, love, and compassion. However, he wants us to do our best to be as accurate as possible. I usually try to error on giving too much than not enough because as I said earlier, you can’t outgive God. It’s fun to watch him work and see how he opens doors and gives back to us! I will share a few personal stories a little further on but first I want to share a strategy that has worked well for my family.
A tactic that has worked well for us is creating a savings account within our bank account that is strictly for tithe. For us, there have been a lot of years where our monthly income fluctuates because we were mostly living off of income from my husband’s self-employment. The total amount of income usually was unknown and varied from month to month. Having a tithe account set aside where we can transfer ten percent, right off the top, into it, allows us to set that money aside and not spend it. Then when Sunday rolls around we give our check to our church, or sometimes, pay the lump sum each month. The important thing is that we are setting the money aside, making tithe a priority and cheerfully and expectantly giving it back to God.
We can testify over and over, the number of times God has faithfully provided and met our needs when we didn’t see how it would be possible (human math vs. heavenly math). We could also list the number of times God has protected us and “rebuked the devourer” for our sake, because we faithfully give to Him, our hearts belong to Him, and we are His children. Malachi 3:11 says, “I will rebuke the devourer for you so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear,” says the LORD of hosts.
God’s math is different than our own. I used to be very anal when it came to budgets and keeping track of finances and having a plan. Please hear me that I’m not downplaying the importance of budgeting, planning and being a good steward! However, I have learned over and over in the past years of my life how God’s math can make money stretch. It can make money come from sources that we weren’t planning on. It can provide new avenues of provision that we didn’t see coming. When we are cheerful givers and give the first 10% of our income (tithe) back to God, He blesses our finances! I would rather live on 90% of my income that is blessed by God than 100% that is not.
I do want to say, that we need to do our part. To work and be responsible with the money that we do have. I also feel that I should say that tithing and giving is not a roadmap to becoming a millionaire and that yes, there are people who are not tithers and givers yet still are wealthy when it comes to dollars in the bank. However, the point I am trying to make is that when we trust God with our finances and follow his ways, we tap into a resource that is beyond what we can accumulate on our own efforts here on earth. We tap into God’s resources!
I can’t tell you the number of times I have not seen a way for financial needs to be met. Or for there to be enough money to meet whatever the expense was, but I still stepped out in faith and obedience to God in tithing and I watched as he “open the floodgates” on my situation. He has proven time and time again that he is faithful that he does what he says he will do and that he is a good, good Father. He is also so creative and he often is working behind the scenes before we even know that there is a need.
I used to have to travel back and forth to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN for medical care. This has been an added expense in our life that not every person has to deal with. While receiving care there, making the long drive on my own was too tiring for me to do by myself. It was not something that my husband was always able to take time off from work to take me. It was also very expensive, even for short trips.
On one occasion a lady who attended our church at the time did a lot of traveling for business. She contacted me and offered to give me a plane ticket because she had so many accumulated miles built up for free tickets. She also had enough free vouchers that she was able and wanted to give me the points that would cover my hotel stay as well. The vouchers were only for certain hotels in the city, and one happened to be across the street from Mayo Clinic. What a blessing! She had a giving heart and it was evident in her life that God blessed her and she just poured it right back into others. God completely provided and blessed me through her. I, in turn, do my best to give to others and bless them as I am able and as God directs me. I know that if I give, he has something he wants to give to me already on the way. It may not be immediate, but often times it’s close by and it’s so fun to see how he works! I don’t give to get, but it’s just how God works.
Another example of God’s provision is when we were getting close to completing our license to do foster care. At the time, my husband and I were both driving paid for cars, each seating a standard 5 passengers. There were 3 of us in our family. About a month prior to our first placement, my car got stuck in a bad hail storm while I was at a store less than two miles from our home. The storm completely totaled my car but missed our house (I believe that is the hand of God). Insurance money provided a lump sum that we put in the bank. We were planning to have to get a larger vehicle to accommodate more children but didn’t know when. We could have only had one foster child for our first placement and our current cars would have still held our family just fine.
When we received our first placement of children, it was a sibling group of three kids. Our family doubled in a day! Two of the kids needed regular car seats and one, a booster seat. We did not have enough room for all of us to ride in one vehicle and especially to meet the car seat criteria (we had a total of 4 kids ages five and under). We found a nice minivan for sale by owner in a town that was an hour away. It had pretty high miles but was a Toyota, so had lots of miles left on it to use and it was priced at a total to where we were able to pay cash for it because of the insurance money. (I always said that I would never drive a minivan, but be careful about saying “never”). 🙂 God provided a good vehicle and we didn’t have to take out a car loan! On the way to get the van (we were driving both cars to go check it out). My husband’s car was older and the engine completely died, so we all had to pile into my car. My son sat on my lap (completely breaking the law, I know) and the three foster kids were squeezed into the backseat. The baby cried the whole way (welcome to the first 12 hours of becoming foster parents). It was very stressful at the time, but quite the adventure to say the least! We made it through!
So we bought the van, which had been very well cared for. The sweet lady we bought it from even called about a week after our purchase to check up on us and see how we liked the van. She said that she gets pretty attached to her vehicles. 🙂 My husband upgraded to the car I had been driving and sold his old car, which was needing to be replaced. It had lived a full life. My old car that he took over, ran great and had lower miles, it just had some hail dents which do not bother us. I would rather not have a car payment! Point of this whole story being, God completely provided for our needs and all in perfect timing! I could tell story after story, similar to these, of how we have seen God’s hand move in our lives because we are faithful in tithing and honoring him with our finances!
Cheerful giving. God loves a cheerful giver! 2 Cor. 9:7 says, “Let each one give [thoughtfully and with purpose] just as he has decided in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Have you ever received a gift from someone and you could tell that they didn’t really want to give you anything? The gift itself may have been just what you wanted but because of the attitude of that person, you didn’t even want the item or money, or whatever they were giving away. That’s how God feels when we give back to him (tithe) but do it begrudgingly. To reiterate, God doesn’t need our money; He wants our hearts! When we give cheerfully, it shows God the condition of our hearts.
Have you ever received a gift from someone that they were SO excited to give to you? You could tell that they put forth a lot of thought and effort. That makes a person feel so blessed!! Have you ever received a gift where you know it took self-sacrifice on the part of the giver in order to give that gift to you? It doesn’t have to be an expensive gift, but to that person, it cost him a lot. It’s humbling, to say the least. You know that that kind of giving comes straight from a loving heart. That person truly cares! There were times when my oldest child, my son, was little and he would wrap up a favorite toy or stuffed animal to give to me. The thought and care that was coming from his little heart, overwhelmed me and made me so proud of him.
I like the story of the widow woman who gave everything she had, every last coin (found in Mark 12:41-44 and in Luke 21:1-4). Jesus called to his disciples and said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Mark 12:43-44.
Recently, my middle daughter (who was 5 at the time) was grocery shopping with my husband. Out of nowhere, she exclaimed, “I want to get mom a Christmas present!” So he let her pick out whatever she wanted to get for me. Out of all the options in the grocery store, she chose a 64 oz. bottle of lemonade! I don’t very often drink lemonade, especially in the winter. I don’t think I have ever bought a big bottle of it, so for her to get this idea out of no where, I believe was a God-inspired gift! She has no idea about this blog or the meaning to me behind lemonade. This made that bottle of lemonade mean that much more to me, not to mention her love and thoughtfulness behind the gift. Now, we are trying to teach her how to keep presents a surprise until they are given. She came home and ran right up to me. “Mom! I bought you a Christmas present from the store! I got you LEMONADE! But, Shhhh…it’s a surprise for Christmas. You can’t have it til Christmas!” 😀
I have seen time and time again, God’s faithfulness in provision when I am faithful in tithing to Him! I have seen him grant the desires of my heart as well as meet my needs when I am faithful in giving to Him as well as blessing others. I have also experienced times when laziness has set in or our hearts were not in the right place and we would miss several months of tithing. Paychecks would come in without giving back to God. I can best describe it as it felt like God’s covering over our finances lifted. Like he stepped back and let us experience what life is like when we are trying to do it all on our own. Using our own wisdom and making just the resources in front of us to get by rather than His finite wisdom and resources. It’s not a place I want to be in or stay in for sure.
God wasn’t “punishing us,” just allowing us to experience life without his covering. We don’t have his blessing when we are trying to go our own way and do things on our own. Life felt like everything was spinning out of control. There wasn’t peace. There was chaos, not just in finances and in material ways, but relationships and the harmony of our home. As we got back on track, that peace and security and protected feeling returned. Peace and harmony, our family began to function like a well-oiled wheel rather than a squeaky wheel that was ready to fall off of its hinges. Life with God feels safe, however, it’s exciting because we don’t often know how God is going to work or act! That is not to say that nothing ever goes wrong or that things are perfect when we faithfully tithe. There is just a difference in where our hope and trust lies. God’s hands have the steering wheel rather than us trying to maneuver over all the bumps and sharp corners ourselves.
Diligent tithing brings about a sense of security, peace, and trust when we put God’s principles into practice. There is a sense of favor and blessing because we are honoring him with our lives and our hearts. Just as a child feels a sense of peace and security in the arms of a parent, or someone who he loves and trusts, so it is when we walk with God and follow his ways.
When the topic of giving was placed on my heart to write about, I planned to go about it more from the standpoint of “the heart of a giver.” In other words, giving for the blessing of making others feel loved and cared for. It’s more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35) I did not intend for this writing to be so geared towards our giving to God. However, from my beliefs and experience, God is the ultimate Giver. He gave His one and only Son, Jesus, so that we can have a way to eternal life with Him (John 3:16). Through Christ’s death and resurrection (the atonement for our sins. 1 John 2:2) Therefore, we follow God’s example to us, of we ourselves being givers.
I realize that not everyone who reads this post shares my same belief system regarding God and the Bible. However, I do think there is something to be gained in giving, no matter where you are in your personal beliefs. Most people, as a whole, recognize the importance of giving: putting others before ourselves, and see that blessing can come from making others feel good. I hope, that perhaps you will be open to idea of there being a one, true, living God in whom we can have a personal relationship with and that maybe my blog and personal stories will spur you on to look more into Christianity and developing your own walk with God.
Some of you may already on the path of believing there is a God but you are not living out a walking, talking, full-on relationship with Him. I encourage you, wherever you are at this new year, to try taking just one step further from where you have been. Perhaps, that step is simply slowing down to see the needs of those around you and being more mindful of others before yourself. You never know when you may be the answer to someone’s prayer. Perhaps, you are an all-out, Bible-believing, follower of God but you haven’t ever consistently taken God up on His offer to TEST Him with your finances. Take that next step of faith. Make a plan on how you will go about doing this and just see what blessing and provision will come your way in 2020! It’s an adventure and God is ready for you to take Him at His word!
For more detailed question/answer information on tithing, check out this great resource: