Earley: How much pain can you bear?
Published 9:13 am Friday, March 8, 2019
Spiritual discipline is anything we do that draws us closer to God.
Whether you are practicing such spiritual disciplines as worship, prayer, and Bible study, regularly or not, most people recognize how vitally important to a growing faith these disciplines are. But tithing seems more painful than most folks can bear.
Tithing is the giving away of 10 percent of one’s income to the Lord through the ministries of Christ’s church. In Leviticus 27:30 we read, “All tithes from the land, whether the seed from the ground or the fruit from the tree, are the Lord’s; they are holy to the LORD.”
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It is simple to understand and frightening for many to even consider doing. Yet, to tithe one’s income to the Lord can have an immediate and dramatic effect on one’s life. The few people who answer God’s call will attest to the truth of that last statement, but few people will ever trust God enough to let God provide for them when they think their tithe will cost more than they can afford. They are convinced that tithing will be anything less than painful denial of life’s necessities or even bankruptcy.
It is not easy to tithe, and it does mean a person must give up some things that they would rather not give up, but I can say, without any hesitation, that the benefits of tithing are some of the greatest benefits one can experience in the spiritual disciplines of faith.
Some of those benefits include:
— incredible freedom from worshipping the most seductive idol in our culture – money.
— New insight into what is important in life guided by faith rather than materialism.
— The satisfaction of seeing your money used to change lives, and thus be involved in the worthy work of God.
— Learning to trust in God instead of yourself to take care of your needs.
— Seeing a great miracle, the miracle that before you tithe there never seems to be enough money, while after you tithe your needs are always taken care of. These are a few of the benefits I have experienced over the years.
I once challenged a family to tithe for one month. To make it an adventure of faith and trust in the Lord they announced to the congregation they would be tithing for a month and would report back how it went in a month. As soon as they announced they would tithe that month everything broke including both cars. They saw no way of making it through the month financially and tithing at the same time. But they didn’t quit. They prayed. At the end of the month all the bills were paid, they had been given a car that ran, and God had received their tithe. They were believers in the power of tithing.
Are you a believer in the power of tithing? Try it for a month. Go ahead, I dare you! You may experience a number of miracles that will change your life.
Like all the spiritual disciplines, tithing is not a means to salvation, but a way to get closer to God. The Pharisees were known to be strict tithers, and Jesus struggled mightily with their self-centeredness and self-righteousness while expressing their common Jewish faith. These spiritual disciplines are practiced to open us up to God’s will and desire for our lives, and deepen our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Of all the benefits there are in tithing the greatest is learning to trust in God to take care of your needs, and as God does take care of your needs you realize just how much God loves you unconditionally. That kind of love can transform your life. I hope you will make a commitment to understand God’s love through the spiritual disciplines.
Do you know exactly what percentage of your monthly/annual income you give away to Christ’s church? Take time to calculate it right now. Is that enough? Are you being faithful to God’s commands through giving the money He has given you away?
Why does God command us to tithe? What have you learned about giving the money God has given you away? Find someone that tithes. Ask them what they have learned by giving away at least 10 percent of the money God has given them? Ask them if they would ever quit tithing.
Al Earley is pastor of LaGrange Presbyterian Church in LaGrange, Kentucky. To learn more about him or read previous columns, visit lagrangepres.org.