By Curtis K. Shelburne: Religion columnist
“My daughter and her husband have told me that they’ve dedicated themselves to being more serious about their faith.”
The good friend sharing this news with me was smiling, deeply thankful that his kids, just starting a family, were opting for a commitment to Christ more meaningful than the prevalent “show up when its convenient,” one more “consumer of religious goods and services,” “fill my all-about-me needs with a glitzy program” approach to “faith.”
I was, of course, happy for him, his kids, and for the real blessings that decision will bring.
He went on: “As an important part of their decision, my daughter and her husband have committed themselves to tithing.”
When he said that, I smiled even more broadly and said, “Oh, that is a great sign! It means their commitment has legs, that it’s real, and will bring real blessing.”
My friend knows me well enough to know that, while I’m glad his kids’ church will have more funds available to use to honor God, I was thinking mainly of the blessings his kids themselves are now going to discover.
Jesus was stating a fact as real as the law of gravity when he told us that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Our hearts follow our treasure. If you want to know what’s most important in our lives, no essays are required. Our check registers pretty much tell the story.
Oh, I know that many people love the Lord who are still growing into more meaningful stewardship than what they’ve known so far. Many folks love the Lord but are in such financial wrecks that they can hardly see a way to pay their bills much less give sacrificially. Believe me, I understand both situations. I’ve also learned through hard personal experience that if we don’t give when we have little, we won’t give when we have much.
But here are just a few of the many things (all good and some remarkable!) that I’ve learned about folks who make a faith choice to tithe.
1) I’ve never known anyone—not one person ever—who tithed and later regretted it. (I find that amazing!)
2) Most tithers will tell you that they’ve decided they “can’t afford” not to. File that under “You can’t outgive God.”
3) Tithers are almost always supporters and encouragers of the church and rarely complainers.
4) Tithers tend not to be controllers. Their genuine love for God is shown by their genuine love for his church—not just a theoretical sort of love for the church universal but a practical love for that little part of his Body where they worship. They honor God by giving their tithe, no strings attached, control relinquished, just as control of their lives is given, no strings attached, control relinquished, to God.
5) Tithing couples are saying to each other, “We love and serve Someone bigger than either of us or our family” and we realize that honoring God first is truly the best way to love each other and our kids. They could easily find a jillion other uses for every cent of their tithe, but if they choose submission to God in stewardship, both husband and wife can be confident that each will choose to honor God in other areas also—such as choosing daily to love each other sacrificially.
That couple’s decision? It says a lot, and everything it says is good.