I’ve learned that planning to tithe on purpose is essential, or it will never happen. But why tithe you may ask. Well, that is what this blog post is all about.
As I mentioned in the post, The Secret to Financial Success, true financial success has always been rooted in prayer. But as you thank God for all He has provided and ask for the things that are on your heart, you must obey His Word as He speaks to you.
You know when a child asks their parent for something, many times the parent responds back, “do this first”. Now the child has a choice. She can obey or she can disobey. We know that disobedience is not the right choice, but obedience under certain circumstances can be wrong as well. Obedience with the wrong attitude is not honorable.
“Sometimes children obey but they do it with a bad attitude. Honor is the solution. It’s important to teach children what honor means in very practical terms. … Obedience is revealed in actions. Honor is revealed in the attitude that goes along with those actions.” – CBN.com
As a child of God, do you want to honor your Heavenly Father? I know I do. So, let’s obey Him with a joyful and grateful heart! Let’s plan to tithe on purpose because He said so.
One of the most debated topics in the financial world is the tithe. There are debates as far as how much a tithe is. Some argue over the timing, in other words, when to tithe. Even the reason for tithing is questioned.
Some people have never even heard of the word. There are others who say it’s an archaic Biblical law. While others believe it’s an optional principle.
It still amazes me that there is any debate at all, but then after contemplating the disagreements I realized an aged old fact: Anything that is rooted in the truth will be opposed. Plus, it is easier to convince people to do something unhealthy than healthy. Discrimination is easy. Debt equals fun. Eating food that is bad for you is delicious.
Spending less than you make takes discipline. Eating healthy takes motivation. Loving your neighbor takes work. Tithing takes intentionality.
Planning to Tithe on Purpose is God’s Word
God introduced the tithe way back at the beginning of Genesis to demonstrate the most important principle of this ownership/stewardship relationship. Don’t worry if you have never read Genesis before or if you have but can’t put your finger on the exact passage. Most people miss it.
“And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it …” – Genesis 2:15-17a KJV
Oh, snap! Do you see that? God put Adam in the garden, so that means that God owns Adam and the garden. Then He tells him that he can eat from any tree. God gives Adam permission to consume from His provision. It’s like that story Jesus was telling of the Master that left his money for the stewards to take care of and invest for Him. God owns everything and we are His custodians.
But wait … that last line though! You must not eat from this single solitary tree. But why? God is teaching us something. “If you love me, you will intentionally have discipline and obey me.” (And that doesn’t just apply to personal finances … just saying.) He is telling Adam that this tree is special.
The Tithe is NOT an Offering
I know some particularly good and well-meaning people who don’t understand that the tithe is not an offering or a token of charity. An offering is a gift to show appreciation. Giving to charity and giving offerings are important to include in a well-built financial house. Neither belongs in the foundation.
You don’t give the tithe; you return the tithe. All of it belongs to God, but He allows you to have it in your possession. Now God wants to test you, just like he tested Adam, to not touch or eat of the fruit on that tree.
Offerings are optional. The tithe is not optional. He didn’t say, “but if you get hungry and you happen to be standing next to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and you are too weak to stroll over to another tree …”
The tithe is not an offering. The tithe belongs to God. Planning to tithe on purpose means not eating off this tree.
The Tithe is NOT Giving
English many times doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and I can’t imagine learning it as a second language. The word “give” is tricky. If I give someone a book, who owns the book? The person I gave it to. Possession of the book switched from me to him. Ownership was passed along with it. And by the way, I didn’t have to give him the book in the first place.
If I borrow a movie from my neighbor and I tell her, “I will give it back to you tomorrow”, then the next day I give it back to her, did I “give” her anything? Who was the owner of the movie the whole time even when it was in my possession? She was. It would have been clearer if I said that I would “return” the movie the next day, but it is more natural to say “give”.
The 7 Financial Targets that I teach people to Zero In on includes Prayerfully Plan (first) and Generously Give (last). Tithing belongs in the former not the latter. It is first not last. When you pray, begin by thanking God for the Inflow and then return the tithe. While planning to tithe on purpose, place it at the top of the list. (I will cover the tithe’s proper place in your budget in the next Prayerfully Plan post.)
The Bible speaks of tithes and offerings. When you give an offering, you are giving from the abundance God has blessed you with, as you Generously Give. Whereas when you give the tithe, you are returning God’s portion which is sacred, as you Prayerfully Plan.
Not Tithing is a Mistake
I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but you may not understand the importance of this pivotal foundational cornerstone of personal finances.
The worst thing I ever did was stop tithing when I was doing very well monetarily. I quickly found out that touching the forbidden fruit comes with a curse. Here is that last verse in its entirety:
“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” – Genesis 2:17 KJV
Double – oh, snap!
Side note: Nowhere doesn’t it say in the Bible that you are going to hell if you don’t tithe. It is not a salvation issue; it is an obedience/love issue. And, when you stop or never start tithing, your financial health will certainly begin to die.
There is no wonder when I coach someone who is struggling financially, I find that they are not tithing. But, when they begin tithing with the right motive, something miraculous happens.
Planning to Tithe on Purpose Yields Fruit
The best thing I ever did was continue tithing while getting out of debt. My wife and I tithed as we tackled the $124,087 of debt that we accumulated. We prayed and we obeyed. You would think that using all the inflow God provided us would be the fastest way to demolish our debt load, but you would be wrong. By tithing first, the 90% went further than the 100%.
It doesn’t make mathematical sense, I know. Believe me, I am a nerd and I like stuff to add up. It doesn’t add up; don’t even try to make sense out of it. All I know is, when you tithe with the correct point of view, even when you are barely able to make ends meet, or trying to get out of debt, or trying to save up for something, the rest goes further than the whole. The rest is best.
I’ve seen it time and time again, and it still blows my mind every time.