Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I had an interesting conversation the other day. We were at a company holiday party (how brilliant is a Thanksgiving party vs. a Christmas party?) and I was talking to two wives of veteran FA's (both have been with Jones for 15 years). They were talking about how crabby their husbands are because of the market and how it is affecting their clients...

Paraphrase/summary of conversation:

Wife 1: We haven't seen anything this bad in the 15 years that we've been doing this.

Wife 2: Well, 9/11 was pretty bad.

Me: Its pretty difficult right now.

1: Is Dave crabby too? It will get better.

Me: His paycheck was $700 last month. After our tithe that left almost nothing. Our mortgage payment is almost $2000.

2: Then I think its time to rethink your tithe. God doesn't want you to lose your house.

I whole-heartedly disagree with that statement - the part about rethinking the tithe. First of all, the tithe wasn't the difference between paying our bills and not paying our bills. Second, our tithe is non-negotiable... it doesn't get rethought - there is never a question about whether or not we will pay it. We do. And thats it.

Before we were married my dad had a conversation with us in the car one night. Dave will never forget this - it really, really stuck with him. My dad told us - when we were discussing some kind of money matter and marriage - that we needed to start tithing right then because if we didn't we never would. It would be much easier to do it at that point while we didn't have as many bills/responsibilities than it would be to try to add it in a year, 2 years, 10 years down the road. My dad was never super involved in church - he had been disillusioned with the politics while on consistory as a young man (that is to say, he attended church regularly, he just didn't get involved beyond that). He told us that night that although he didn't volunteer or involve himself more, he could and always did financially support the church and that tithing was his spiritual gift.

We can argue that or not argue that point (tithing = spiritual gift) - it doesn't matter. The broader lesson for us was: You tithe. Period. And you start as soon as possible. My dad encouraged me and my sister as high schoolers to give part of our paychecks back to God and while I didn't do so consistently, I can say that I occasionally did. I tried to tithe in college, but since my church attendance was so sporadic I think my tithing was as well. But from that conversation forward we have always tithed and as I've said, it has never been negotiable. This wasn't a huge lesson for me because I grew up learning it, but it was a big lesson for Dave and he became as committed to it as I was already.

Our pastor preaches on tithing every year. And every year he uses a verse from Malachi where God says, (big time paraphrase because I don't know the exact verse) "Test me on this. Bring your tithe back to the storehouse and I will open the floodgates of blessing on you." While our pastor is diligent in reiterating that this does not mean that God will bless us financially by bringing our tithe, it does sometimes come across that way. We don't tithe because we want something back for doing it, we do so out of obedience. And believe me, this is probably the only way I am consistently obedient;)

In addition, while we are really struggling with finances right now I could not cut out our tithe - for the same reason my dad advised us to start right away: because if I cut it out, how will I ever be able to add it back in?

Do I think God wants me to lose my house? No, absolutely not. I think God is providing for me in ways that I'm unaware of right now. I believe that he knows the future and I do not. He tells me to bring him a tenth of our earnings and I do so because I want to honor and obey him.

Is this a test of faith? HECK yeah - especially because not only are we tithing, but we've committed to a monthly amount above that for the capital campaign at our church (a number that somehow we individually came up with while praying about it on our own... somehow the numbers matched without ever having a conversation about it). Dave and I have lived our married life with the understanding that sometimes God asks us to take steps in faith - I have many examples where we have had that conversation because the move we were about to make made absolutely no sense whatsoever. Tithing right now probably doesn't make sense to many people, but it is my step in faith right now. God has always provided after our previous steps and I know - even if we do end up losing our house - that he is providing right now and will continue to do so. My measly tenth isn't changing the world right now, but it continually changes me.


Brenda B 5:01 PM  

I have been taught that it is better to live on 90% blessed than on 100% cursed. With that said I can say for the better part of the last 10 years I have lived that way. However over the last year that has fallen away. There are lots of reasons - Ed was laid off twice - followed by a really bad paying commission only job etc... but i've made it through hard times before and tithing always stuck. It really boils down to my growing unhappiness with my church at the moment, and some first hand knowledge of how some of the leaders in my church pay their tithe and I don't believe it's right. I can also say that what other men do is not my business it's between them and God and that I should be doing right no matter what. So the issue lies with me.

I commend you for doing what you know in your heart is right and I agree that God will provide for you no matter what happens even if it doesn't look the way you or others think that should look in the end God has our best interests at heart.

If i'm babbling too much let me know and i'll pipe down.

I pray that you'll be shown the abundance of God's blessings and that people will be drawn toward God by seeing your faithfulness and dedication to God and His deadication and faithfulness back to you.

Ginger 8:51 AM  

I agree with you on the Tithe..I have always paid tithed starting with my babysitting money. I don't think I will ever stop, it is ingrained in me to pay it no matter my financial circumstances. I have always come out ahead in the long run as long as I kept my faith that things will always get better.

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