THE TIME TO TITHE IS NOW
By: G. Ernest Thomas
A Christian in Holliston, California, was a patient in a tuberculosis sanitarium. His illness separated him from his family and made it necessary for him to give up his position in a business firm. After several weeks
away from home he announced to a friend who was visiting with him that he had started to tithe.
“This is a strange time to begin tithing,” responded his friend. “Here you are on your back, with a long period of convalescence ahead. How did you come to decide to tithe at a time like this?”
“It’s this way!” the man answered. “I never appreciated until now how good God has been to me and to my family. I took it all for granted. But since I became a patient here I have seen so many signs of the Heavenly Father’s loving care. Friends have been more wonderful than I can tell in helping me and my family. My job is waiting for me when I’m well. I tell you, I can’t help being grateful to God. For a long time I have heard that Christians ought to tithe as a recognition of the fact that they are thankful, but I never took it seriously. So I have decided to tithe whatever I earn from now on, and the time to begin is now.”
Tithing calls for a dedication. It demands an act of the will. Having faced the matter of our obligation to God; we may recognize tithing as the practical, satisfying, biblical method of acknowledging the debt we owe.
But in the last analysis the consideration of tithing cannot end in speculation and discussion. It requires the courage to make a decision and say, “This is the hour when I begin to tithe.”
Each Christian faces the fact that there is no better time than the present hour to launch out on such an adventure. To postpone it is to be deprived of the enduring values which tithers always testify that they have received from the regular giving of a tenth.
Many Christians have begun tithing as an experiment. Encouraged by a pastor or a church school teacher they have attempted to set aside ten percent of their earnings for a brief period such as the pre-Christmas or the pre-Easter seasons. In many cases the value of tithing has been demonstrated to their satisfaction during such a short term, and they have continued through the years to acknowledge God’s goodness by the presentation of their tithes.
The spiritual treasures resulting from this way of dealing with possessions are so quickly evident that the matter can stand or fall as a Christian principle on the basis of what happens in the life of an individual who tithes even for eight weeks. In that minimum time of experiment he will catch echoes of abiding joy. Few persons who approach a trial period in the spirit of expectant surrender fail to receive release from tensions about money, a strange and wonderful assurance through added material blessings, and a growing sense of the divine presence which transforms me. There are few who turn back from a trial period of tithing, for it marks the beginning of a deeper experience. In God’s nearness which comes to be recognized as the most precious possession which any individual can know.
In Childhood or Youth
Childhood or youth is a good time to begin tithing. The first pennies or dimes which a child earns seem to have peculiar value. The whole pattern of a lifetime can be set if a youthful Christian will begin to put aside God’s tenth from the first money which he earns.
A father related his experience with a high school daughter to a group of Christians who were discussing the tithe. “I persuaded my daughter Alice to set aside five cents from the first fifty cents which she earned taking care of children,” he said. “Five cents didn’t seem much, but I knew that her first earnings were the place to begin. I started tithing with the first dollar I earned on the farm,” he concluded, “and I want my children to have the same joy which tithing has brought to me.” In response to questions he explained that his daughter put the five cents which was her first tithe into a jewelry box. There it remained for several weeks, increased by other five- and ten- cent pieces. Then came a special missionary offering at their church. The father said that he raised the question as to whether Alice would like to join him in giving an extra amount to that cause. He said that she emptied the tithe money from the jewelry box into the special envelope which had been provided for the missionary offering. “I felt repaid for all the effort in teaching her about tithing,” he said, “when I saw the look in her eyes as she placed her envelope on the offering plate. Never have I seen her as radiant as she was that day.”
Children and youth of this generation generally have more money than those of any earlier day. Many boys and girls spend a large amount for candy, ice cream, and public entertainment. Allowances which are given to high school and college students frequently approach the weekly wage which laborers received a generation ago.
Life-long habits of carelessness in the use of money are established when young people receive that which they have not earned, and then spend it without recognizing the ultimate source from which all wealth comes. Tithing helps to remind them that the money they have has its origin in the works of God and through the labor and faith of their parents. For each one, tithing is an effective aid in building a sense of obligation to use wisely all the money which is at their disposal.
Childhood and youth are a good time to begin tithing. The values acquired from the habit are certain to be numerous, and the pattern for a lifetime of abundant living will be established in that formative period.
Amid Days of Hardship
Days of hardship are a satisfying time in which to begin tithing. More people start the habit when life is difficult, and money is scarce, than in any other situation. They often speak of hours of poverty and trial when relating the circumstances out of which they began to tithe.
A pastor in Newark, New Jersey, tells of a family which has tithed during many years of economic hardship. He describes the family as one of the poorest in his parish. When he asked the mother how they had been able to tithe with such regularity, she answered: “We take the tithe out first and keep it in a special place. That way we never miss it, and it gets the budget off to a right start.”
Many tithers testify to the fact that tithing seems miraculously to increase the buying power of the remainder of their income. G. Stanley Lynch, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, relates how he and his wife set aside their tithe beginning with his first wage of eighteen dollars a week. He declares that, though life was hard in those days he and his wife found that they managed to take care of all their pressing needs by using the nine-tenths which were left after the tithe had been put aside for the Lord.
Tithers who began the habit during hours of financial stress often are glowing witnesses concerning the manner in which their habit of tithing resulted in extraordinary material blessings. It is unwise for any person to approach tithing with the expectancy that he will have more money, or a more responsible position, as a result of tithing. Yet no impersonal weighing of observable data can avoid the conclusion that tithers do experience wondrous material blessings.
G.A. Anderson, of Aurora, Illinois, tells us that he was challenged to tithe at a Christian Convention in 1892. “As a teen-ager, I was brought face to face with tithing for the first time,” he says. “What to do? My
salary was $40 a month and $30 was given to my mother. Could I tithe the remaining $10?” He decided to try, and has faithfully held to that course ever since. “Through the years,” he says, “there have come far greater responsibilities and resources, and it has been possible to practice tithing on a larger scale. I am humbly grateful for the Lord’s goodness to me, and I want to give a good account to Him of the possessions with which He has blessed me.”
It is always a temptation to be mercenary when reporting the material rewards of tithing. Too often the cited cases of those whose lives have been enriched focus the attention upon dollars and cents. They lead the stranger to tithing to conclude that those who relate their experiences are saying, “I pay God; He pays me!”
But we miss a demonstrable fact if we fail to recognize that the values which come from tithing are both temporal and eternal. The best approach is for the individual to try it for himself. “Prove me, and see if I do not open the windows of heaven,” wrote the Prophet Malachi. It is that challenge which motivates those who desire to see the material results from tithing. For many Christians it is enough to know that the practice is the most direct and effective way by which one may acknowledge his thanks to God. Then, in a manner which is beyond human understanding, he receives bountiful blessings from on high.
Times of hardship and pinched financial circumstances have often proved a satisfying time to begin tithing.
In Periods of Doubt
Many tithers begin the practice during periods when doubts are troubling them. Intellectual uncertainties, and questions which spring from bereavement or sickness, often stifle Christian belief. In many such
moments a positive affirmation, however feeble it may be, is enough to carry the individual forward to other and greater spiritual victories. But it is difficult to find even a small place to lay hold upon faith when
black despair and doubt cloud the horizon.
It is then that tithing becomes a healing instrument in the hands of God. Tithing is practical; it is definite. It leads the individual to make an affirmation which he cannot phrase. He knows there is a God; but he doesn’t know what God is like, or what His relationships are to the personal needs of the one who seeks Him. Tithing helps such a person to open his mind and heart to let God have His way. It becomes the agent by which doubt is put to fight and faith becomes a healing force in that life.
A woman came to me to ask for counsel. There were serious tensions in her home which threatened to end in the divorce court. Both the husband and wife were members of the church and, until that time had attended church services regularly. It was evident from the first conversation that the woman had lost her faith, and with it she had surrendered all purpose in living. But beyond the sharp words, and the bitter arguments which divided the family, it became evident that money problems were a major factor. Many
of the arguments in the home centered around money. Both husband and wife were convinced that the other was spending too much for selfish personal pleasures.
I endeavored to help the young couple to recover their faith. A single conference indicated that neither desired to break up their home. Both were looking for some way out of the dilemma which confronted them, but constant bickering only served to widen the gulf.
“Surrender” was the word which had to be brought into their thinking. Both needed to surrender their lives to God and to those ways of life which are in keeping with His will. After hours of counsel and prayer, they both expressed themselves as desiring to begin then to live in accordance with the will of God.
Then I suggested that they begin to tithe, for surely money would continue to be a factor which would cause tension unless that too was made a part of their surrender. The tithe seemed a practical measure which would help their marriage. Somewhat falteringly, but with an eagerness to try anything which might bring permanent happiness to their home, they agreed to try it.
The months passed. The way was not all smooth, nor were all the problems solved. But the couple grew in faith in God, and in love and understanding for each other. They faithfully kept their agreement to pray each day and to put aside their tithe. When questioned about the results, both agreed that tithing had been difficult at first, but that it had helped to dispel most of their financial difficulties by eliminating the tension which money had caused in their home.
For many Christians, and for many homes, the regular habit of tithing will prove the road to abundant living and to a satisfying assurance of God’s presence in the world.
During Success and Prosperity
Some tithers begin the practice during periods of business success and prosperity. It is strange, but true, that tithing becomes more difficult as Christians are entrusted with larger sums of money. When salaries are generous, or when the income from a business reaches large proportions, it is easy for a Christian to argue that he cannot afford to tithe. Or the amount which is the tithe seems so large that he has difficulty picturing himself giving that much to the church and to its work around the world.
Actually, the person of wealth is not giving his own money. It is a treasure which had its source in the beneficent and loving work of the Heavenly Father. It is not the Christian’s duty to decide that the tithe
would force him to give to the church a sum which is too large. It is his privilege to acknowledge God’s goodness by setting aside his tithe. Then he can seek to be a good trustee of the Lord’s money as he distributes it in places of need.
The treasures of tithing belong to those who possess large material fortunes as well as to those who are living on meager incomes. But the plan to be followed is the same. Ten percent of the income is set aside in God’s account. That amount is administered as a trustee would administer an estate. Money is placed at the disposal of the church for the work of Christ at home and abroad. The needs of hospitals and colleges, and benevolent agencies are weighed with an earnest desire to use the Lord’s money in the most fruitful way.
Tithers of larger incomes always face the temptation to regard the money which they give as their own. It is easy to become critical of the manner in which money is expended, or to seek to dominate the uses to which the funds are directed. Of course the tither ought to be concerned that God’s money be used in the most helpful manner, but he must never forget that the wealth is not his own. He will not seek to dictate what shall be done with it, nor will he be tempted to bask in the acclaim which comes from those who honor him for his generosity. Tithing, to be spiritually helpful, must be accompanied by a willingness to give all the credit to God, and by an earnest desire to have the church and its institutions molded after God’s purpose and will.
There are rich spiritual treasures awaiting those who will set aside their tenth, or two-tenths, or more, as an acknowledgment of goodness and mercy of the Heavenly Father.
Now Is the Time
No time is more acceptable than the present to begin tithing. Every Christian has received an abundant treasure from the hands of God. His mercies and love have been endless. For every confessed follower of Jesus Christ the door of opportunity to new and vital power for daily living is opened wide whenever money is made a part of the surrendered life.
Tithing is a glorious privilege by which we may declare our gratitude to God for life and family, for home and country, and for the endless providential mercies which God extends to all His children.
MY CONVENANT TO TITHE
Believing in God and His mercies, and recognizing His goodness in providing for all my material needs, I accept the principle of Tithing as the method by which I may acknowledge my gratitude to Him, and share in His work in the world.
As an act of dedication, I am resolved this day to begin (or continue) the regular practice of Tithing.
(The above material was taken from the book Spiritual Life Through Tithing.)
Christian Information Network