My household income statement would probably look a lot better if I didn’t tithe. My wife and I ran the numbers this week and tithe is the single largest expense in our budget. We have credit card debt, student loans, a mortgage, a car loan, and other monthly living expenses. This week we canceled our car wash membership, put our Hulu subscription on hold, lowered our cell phone plan, and gave our Tax Pro our tax info so we could get that refund money in the bank. We’re making it financially, but we’re not going to be able to pay down debt as fast as we’d like or go on a vacation anytime soon.
If we didn’t return tithe this year I could pay off all of our credit card debt and several of our smaller student loans. We could probably go on a really nice vacation with Lily to the beach. We would definitely be able to go to my cousin’s wedding in April that we think we won’t be able to go to because we don’t have the extra money to stay in a hotel for a couple of days. If I didn’t return tithe, we’d be able to get to a place a lot sooner where financially, Kristin wouldn’t have to work and could stay at home with Lily.
Did you know there are biblical arguments that say that tithing in the new testament wasn’t required and that churches should be supported by gifts and offerings? There are even arguments that tithing wasn’t required in the old testament (although I find them pretty weak). I could easily pick one of these arguments and cite it as a reason not to tithe.
I understand numbers… not a workday goes by when I don’t open a spreadsheet. I put all of our income and expenses on a spreadsheet, added formulas to assist with analysis, and filters so I could display relevant data in a few clicks. Paying tithe in my situation doesn’t make sense.
So I’m going to tell you why my wife and I make tithing a priority. I’ve never told anyone this before because it doesn’t make sense, which makes it hard to explain with words. The only people who understand are those that have had the same experience…
We’ve tested God and He has always come through for us.
There have been times when the numbers just don’t add up. When our budget was so negative that we thought we were going to get kicked out of our apartment, or maybe have to sell all of our things. There were times when the stress of money was so heavy that I didn’t want to get out of bed (and a few times when I gave in and didn’t get out of bed). Through all of that we tithed and God has always come through for us. Let me recount a few unexpected gifts that we can only attribute to God looking out for us, because the timing was so perfect that we can’t just say it was a coincidence.
- Refund of health insurance premiums (something to do with ACA, I still don’t understand why)
- Phantom money deposited to our bank account (it happened twice, we went to the bank and told them that money wasn’t ours and they told us that there was nothing they could do about it)
- Unexpected gift cards or money in the mail that were sent “late” as presents (I’m convinced God held those birthday/Christmas presents back so they’d arrive just when we needed it)
- Extra unrestricted college scholarships that we didn’t apply for (seriously, when does a school give you a scholarship that you don’t apply for? It happened to both Kristin and I)
- Unexpected bonuses from work
- Getting a ton of food for no reason (e.g. leftovers from a party or someone bought too much food and didn’t want it to go bad so they give it to us)
God doesn’t need my math, He doesn’t need my fancy pants spreadsheets and analysis; God doesn’t even need my money. Kristin and I know that God is faithful because he has shown us that he is faithful and so tithing is a priority. For us, tithing has gone beyond words in the bible and mere theology, beyond biblical stories and modern-day anecdotes. We’ve lived it! It’s our reality. So we’re going to keep tithing even when it doesn’t make financial sense.
God has blessed us. Did I mention that tithe is our biggest expense? Yep, it’s bigger than our mortgage, so that says something. I trust in God that things will work out for us financially; He’s never given us any reason to doubt it.