I want to apologize in advance for the crassness of this post. I am going to name actual amounts of money given and received. If that is too offensive to you, I’m sorry. But not really. Get over it!
Erik and I have always given to our church. Sometimes it’s been ten percent. Sometimes it’s been more. I usually write that check. And it hasn’t ever been a thing I was resentful about or afraid to do. In fact, it has always given me joy. I am not claiming to be some Super Christian. In fact, I suck in a lot of other ways. But this is one area where the Lord has granted me an obedient heart. I am able to joyfully give money to my church. Woot!
So, Erik got laid off about six weeks ago. His former company, as part of the severance package, agreed to continue to pay him every two weeks for a period of 8 weeks. I immediately restructured our budget to plow as much of those paychecks into savings as possible, not knowing how long our season of unemployment would last. But I didn’t change the tithe amount. Not one cent. We made the money. We would give some of the money.
However we were out of town the first Sunday I would have written a tithe check. So, two paychecks worth had accumulated when it came time to write that puppy. True confessions: For the first time ever, it stung a little. So, I prayed. And it wasn’t some holy, awesome prayer, people. It went a lot like this, “Lord, this stings! And I’m scared! Help!” I was about to give away $600, an amount that could feed our family and fill our gas tanks for a month and a half. Giving was suddenly more sacrificial than ever before.
Well, I didn’t hear an audible voice in answer, but I knew I needed to write the check and give the check. So, I did. And I didn’t give it any thought afterward. I had peace. (Sidenote: it helps that we go to an amazing church filled with folks who love us unconditionally and remind us of the goodness of the Gospel ALL the time.)
Fast forward a week and a half. Erik had his final sharing night for Bible Study Fellowship last night. If you don’t know what that means, think of around 150 men singing a hymn together and then taking turns sharing with each other about all the amazing things God has done in their lives over the course of the current year’s study. Since February, Erik has been teaching this band of brothers from the book of John. Every Monday night, he stood before them and gave them truths from God’s Word to encourage them, to convict them, and to draw them closer to their loving Savior, Jesus Christ. It has definitely been a sacrifice of time and energy for Erik. But he has done it SO joyfully. I am fairly certain that it hasn’t stung at all. In fact, it has been a huge blessing. Because sometimes tithing isn’t just about money. It’s about time. Right? The four hours of lecture preparation each weekend. The two hours on Saturday morning to lead and train the leaders. The two hours on Monday night to teach and serve the class members. Joyfully given and abundantly blessed!
Here’s where this story gets incredible to me. At the end of the night last night, Erik was handed a card from a person who wished to remain anonymous. When he opened it, he found a SUPER encouraging note and $1400 cash. I burst into tears and blubbered for a good five minutes when he told me. People, God provides. And tithing is important. I wrote the check for $600 thinking about groceries and gas money. God gave us twice that amount and then some. Wanna know what the “then some” is for? It’s for giving back to Him.
The lessons I learned from this experience: When giving stings, pray. Trust the Lord. And give even when you think it is going to hurt. Jesus did. He died an excruciatingly painful death. He gave His life. And it was so worth it. He rose again, conquering sin and death!
When we give sacrificially we get to experience in a very small way the sting of dying to self and the joy of being raised to new life. It is the Gospel all over again.