Growing with giving
 
Pastor Ryan’s story and reflections on giving
 
I grew up going to church and so did my wife. From a very early age, we had instilled in us the importance of tithing. In my church and with my family; it was always assumed- you give 10% of everything you earn, back to the church, no questions asked.
 
When my wife and I were married, we took this rule into our marriage and have given 10% ever since. In the Old testament, we find a practice of “tithing”- where this idea of giving ten percent of all you earn comes from. However, when Jesus comes on the scene he takes tithing to a new level. Since we are forgiven and freed from our sin through Jesus- we aren’t necessarily obligated to tithe in order to keep God happy with us; but we are given the blessing of living generously! In the New Testament we see an attitude of giving what you have to others who are in need and taking care of those in the church who serve full time.
 
With this in mind- even though we weren’t required to give 10%, my wife and I simply kept this as our rule.
 
When we got married, we were 24 years old. I was going to grad school and she was working as an administrative assistant in a law firm. I was also working as a youth pastor making very little money. We were young, in love, and pretty much living paycheck to paycheck. Our 10% rule was challenged in those days, but we held to it. The good news was 10% of a very little amount- is also… A LITTLE AMOUNT! 🙂
 
As the years have gone on- we have gotten jobs that made more money and we have watched God steadily take care of us, year after year. We worked hard and continued to tithe that ten percent. We were faithful, but SO WAS GOD!
 
My friends, I cannot tell you all the times God has shown my wife and I His faithfulness. I have often pointed out the fact; my wife drives a Chevy Malibu, and I have driven a dented, beat-up, minivan for 7 years (It’s paid off!!!!). We may not drive the nicest cars, or live in a million dollar mansion, but our needs have always been met. We’ve had challenges arise- but God has taken care of us again and again.
 
I believe in tithing not just because God has called me to live generously, but mostly because it is one area where I can live in obedience and watch God work in my life in really tangible ways. Tithing may not seem to be the best for my pocketbook, but it has certainly been an amazing investment in my soul and in the kingdom of God. Alyssa and I both thank God for this wonderful practice!
 
Let me add this- through the years my wife and I started with 10% but now that number has gone up. We don’t just give ten percent to our church- but we have supported Compassion International and World Vision, we have supported missionaries and refugees; and have had the blessing of giving to others in need. That 10% a month has grown and God still takes care of us. Now we get the blessing of seeing all the ways he is using us to bless others and build His kingdom.
 
You don’t have to tithe 10% of your income. My suggestion is to bring this to the Lord and ask Him what He wants you to give. Several quick suggestions for giving:
 
1) Pre-determine what you will give— sit down and decide what percentage you will give. Please remember that this determination should be made with the Counsel of God and your family. 10% is the number my wife and I grew up with so this was our starting point, but God may have a different number for you. We pre-determine what we give and go from there.
 
2) Be faithful to give what you have pre-determined— Sometimes it’s easier to simply put a check aside or an auto deposit right from the start so the decision is already made and the offering is already paid.
 
3) Give to build the eternal— There is nothing wrong with giving to causes that are more of this earth- giving to a cancer research foundation; to a hospital, or to a wounded warrior project. Nothing wrong with this at all- and may even be a wonderful way to show God’s love! But please consider that this amount you are setting aside for God would go to that which bears eternal fruit; that which builds God’s kingdom. Giving to church, missionaries- parachurch organizations; etc, is a beautiful way to invest in God’s kingdom and you see that this work is everlasting.
 
I can honestly say Giving has been one of the greatest blessings in my life with Aly. Why? Because through it we’ve had the privilege to join God in what he’s doing and to watch Him provide for us as we do. We’ve also had God do reconstructive surgery on our hearts, not letting money and possessions be the end all be all of our existence. I know this may sound strange, but we actually need tangible ways to be reminded that money and stuff are not the biggest deal in our lives! We live in a materialistic culture that values and prizes money and possessions as objects to be worshipped and pursued. This is actually destructive and so easy for us to get caught up in. Living generously and giving back to God counteracts this pull in my life.
 
I can’t tell you what to give as your tithe/offering. I cannot tell you that you should do that. But I can tell you that it has been good and wonderful for us and I can imagine it would be that way for you as well. It won’t always be easy and, yes, there are some months where we could certainly use those funds, but even in those times- God has somehow provided, and we’ve watched our faith in Him grow.
 
I pray this will be your story as I know it is the same for so many others!

 

Pastor Ryan