Bring this tithe to the designated place of worship—the place the Lord your God chooses for his name to be honored—and eat it there in his presence. This applies to your tithes of grain, new wine, olive oil, and the firstborn males of your flocks and herds. Doing this will teach you always to fear the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 14:23)
Relate: It was a Friday night and I was one sophomore among the hundreds of college students sitting on the side of a hill listening to a missionary from India. he made us laugh. He made us cry. Then he challenged us. Every year, every Friday night a different missionary would come and speak to us. Those evenings were amazing and inspiring and life altering. This was my church. Yes, I attended a local church on Sunday, but I never really felt plugged in there. I went to Nixa my sophomore year, Evangel Temple my junior year and Calvary Temple my senior year. Honestly, now that I think about it, I can’t even be sure that is accurate. I am thinking that it was CT that I went to when I returned to Springfield for a year in 2004, but what was the third church during my college years? They were all so underwhelming that I can’t even remember. But Friday nights most definitely were not. There are three things I truly miss from my college days: my classmates is third, my morning prayer times is second but neither of those comes close to those Friday night CMF (Campus Missions Fellowship) services.
Anyways, back to that first Friday night. The speaker was challenging us to not just give an offering but to make a commitment to give every week. I pledged $5. I didn’t yet have a job and I was certainly not going to be getting any money from home, but I figured I could manage $5 a week. I could. I did. Every Friday I had that five. Sometimes I had to borrow it from a friend. Once I shaved someone’s head for $5. However I needed to manage, I did. Every week.
Skip past summer to my junior year on that same hill. I was feeling good about being faithful the year before and felt I could reasonably up that pledge to $7. But then I felt God saying He wanted me to double it. OK, now You’re pushing it. I had managed a job last year for a whole two months. After my dad died I quit and I didn’t work the remainder of my sophomore year. I was promised a spot in the alumni office but it was only ten hours a week. $5 would be about a tithe. $7 would be a sacrifice. $10, if that happened, would be nothing short of a miracle. With much fear and trepidation I made the pledge. Somehow, every Friday, I was putting a ten in the plate. He was faithful.
Once again my senior year, I was sitting on that hill for the annual CMF bonfire. This year the same speaker was sharing who had spoken my sophomore year. Once again, I was feeling good about my giving for the past two years. I wanted to step out in faith and up that pledge to $12. But once again, I felt God telling me to double it. By this point I was working security. That was 18 hours a week 5.50 an hour. There were many times I was going down to the center on Thursday to give blood for research. They paid $20 for that so you could say I was literally giving my blood for missions. Every Friday, God was faithful and somehow the money was there.
My college education was costing me roughly ten grand a semester all bills included. When I graduated I owed Uncle Sam 5.5 grand. I also owed my mom 3 grand. Beyond that, I was debt free. To this day I still have no idea how that happened. There was one time when I received a notice to be before the financial board at a certain time. I went into the daily chapel service expecting to be kicked out in just over an hour’s time. I owed 7,800 at that point and if I didn’t pay at least half of that I was done. In the mailbox after chapel I found a notice that I had been approved for a grant that I had applied for over a year ago and had forgotten completely about. That grant was $3,500 ahd the board said that was good enough for now. I did my best to stay faithful in the little and, God time and time again proved Himself faithful in the big. College taught me a huge lesson and I have never, not once, worried about money since. I just do what He’s called me to do and He will take care of the rest.
React: The local church does not need our tithe. If they are following in obedience to God, He will provide. It might be through us, it might be in spite of us. On the flip side, if that church is not being wise stewards or is not walking in obedience to God’s calling then no amount of faithful tithers will ever be enough. No, the local church does not need our tithe, but we need to be giving our tithe to the local church. Tithing is not about giving the church money. Tithing is about giving God priority. If we are not willing to be obedient and surrendered to God in the area of our finances then we have absolutely no right at all to expect Him to bless us in any area of our lives. Tithing is not about finances, it is about Lordship. If Jesus is not Lord of our lives, dare we call Him Savior?
Help me to live in a place of surrender. I am so thankful for the many ways both then, and in the time intervening, that You have proven Yourself faithful. Thank You for the ways You have demonstrated over and again that when You call, You provide. Forgive me for those times and areas of my life that have not been as surrendered to You. In my time, with my money, in my relationships, and with my efforts I give everything to You again. use it as You will. Pour me out that You might be glorified through every aspect of my life.