President John F. Kennedy is credited with the phrase, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” But it didn’t originate with him. Ted Sorenson, JFK’s speechwriter, borrowed it from a chamber of commerce in New England. Regardless of where it came from, the statement is true: when the tide rises it affects every boat in the harbor.
A similar thing happens when every church member tithes. It benefits every ministry and every mission. However, statistics show most of the people in our churches aren’t doing that. Why not? And why would any Christian want their church to sink or get stuck on a sand bar instead of setting sail for even deeper waters?
Maybe they’ve never learned the blessing of tithing.
I grew up in a pastor’s home and remember thinking my dad came up with the idea of “tithing” as a way of paying the bills at the church. I had no idea it was a supernatural transaction with Almighty God and was the only way we could “get under the spout where God’s blessings come out” (Malachi 3:8-12).
It was in the second grade when I began to finally understand what the Bible said about tithing: that a dime of every dollar I received belonged to God. A tithe, (10 percent) belonged to God, and when we went to church on Sunday to worship, everyone brought a tithe, from that week’s income, to give to God. In those early years, even though I didn’t fully understand the concept, I believed every person who called himself or herself a Christian was a tither. It wouldn’t have entered my mind to even consider not tithing.
As a teenager I tithed 10 percent of my income, from mowing yards and then, from my first real job as a janitor at an apartment complex. In college, I tithed to the local church where I was a member. Some of my fellow students excused themselves from tithing because they were in Bible college and said they were using their tithe to pay for their education. I never understood that explanation and still don’t.
When we got married in 1977, Janis and I tithed every week in our first pastorate – even when we were expecting our first child. And there were a number of weeks when I wouldn’t get paid because the church treasurer told me they “just didn’t have the money that week.” We still tithed faithfully even when there were weeks we did it fearfully, not knowing where the money would come from tocover all our bills. Still, we trusted God to be true to His Word and as the Bible says, put Him to the “test” (Malachi 3:10).
Today our testimony is we are one of the most blessed families on the earth. We have a beautiful home that’s paid for. Have four of the most incredible children any parents could ever want; two daughters, our son and daughter-in-law, and two terrific grandsons. Our vehicles are paid for, our kids’ college educations are paid for. Everything we have is paid for and, because of God’s Word and His blessing, we will live that way the rest of our lives.
Without question, the single most important factor in our personal financial success has been trusting and obeying God in the matter of tithing. It’s the central foundation for God’s blessing upon anyone’s finances. When it comes to tithing, our obedience determines our abundance. Our disobedience prohibits it.
We are absolutely dependent upon God for everything we have, and He more than meets all of our needs. He has given us far more than we have ever given to Him and has blessed us in ways we never dreamed (Deuteronomy 8:18; 28:12; Proverbs 10:22; 11:24-25).
How has that happened? We decided to trust God and His Word and, to the best of our ability, manage the resources He gives us the way He says to do it.
The Bible says God “loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Those who give, not because they have to, but rather, because they want to. Generous givers who’ve discovered the joy missionary martyr, Jim Elliot, spoke of when he said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
I had no idea back in the second grade what all God was going to do in my life and where He was going to take me. He has “opened the windows of Heaven” in my life and the lives of my family. And it all started with a dime.
By the way, we’re still tithing every week to our local church and will until the day we die. Years ago we moved beyond the tithe, giving more, and the blessings from that decision have been even more incredible.
If you haven’t discovered the joy and blessing of tithing in your life let, I invite you to get “under the spout where God’s blessings come out.”
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. ‘Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing you will not have room enough for it.” Malachi 3:10 NIV/1984
Barry L. Cameron
Generosity Coach, CCL