Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Reaping What We Sow

There was a time not so very long ago when I did not tithe to God. I might have been coerced into giving him a few dollars, but I saw tithing as something I could not afford to do. I admired those who did it, but I said to myself that I had too many bills to pay and God would want those paid first. So, God got paid with what was left over after I spent all my money on bills (and not often enough on those first), eating out, and buying the things I wanted at the store. Suffice it to say, what I did give I gave reluctantly and only after I had gotten what I wanted first.

Looking back, I realize that I could easily have afforded to tithe, I simply didn't want to. I didn't see the point. God didn't need the money, after all. Looking back on it, though, I realize that I wasn't cheating God - I was cheating myself. I can thank Father Alfonse for getting me into the habit of tithing, a habit I have not abandoned no matter how tight the times. He reminded me that God cannot be outdone in generosity, and challenged me to place the full weight of my trust in God.

The first time that I did put the full weight of my trust in God, I was down to my last $150. My car was a rental, and the lease was up in a week. We had no alternative vehicle, and no money saved to get another. My husband's job was 60 miles from our home, and he would lose it for certain without a vehicle. Listening to Father Al's homily, I heard a small voice urging me to put it all in the collection plate. I felt a small panic at the thought of being without any money. How would we survive until our next payday? What would we do about getting a car? However, I listened to the voice and did just that.

By the end of the week, friends of ours stepped in to help us obtain a vehicle and we had been repaid for our "generosity" 1000 times over. I still found it difficult to put money in the collection plate, and struggled to learn to tithe because I was struggling to learn to trust. I was also struggling to learn to manage my money. Gradually, though, I began to see what many have learned. I could not afford NOT to tithe.

God cannot be outdone in generosity. He multiplies whatever we give, so that if we give a little our return is smaller and if we give greatly our return is larger. He counts our giving not by the dollar amount but by the percentage of our income that we are giving. He looks to see how we are giving. Are we giving to be noticed or to lower our taxes or are we giving because we truly desire to be obedient to God in every area of our lives? Are we giving out of our wealth - as if we own anything - or out of our understanding that everything we have is God's anyway so if He asks for 10% of what is His to be returned to Him, who are we to say no?

So, now, I tithe. I give 10% of whatever I receive to God. The benefits have been remarkable. Unexpected help that comes at the moment of greatest need is just one of many blessings. The greatest blessing, though, is that learning to tithe has helped me to learn to manage my money better. It has forced me to prioritize my spending. God first, bills next, then groceries, then anything else. I am not perfect in managing my money, but I am 10 times better at it than before I began to tithe. The discipline of tithing isn't for God. It's for us, for our benefit. And in tithing, as in life, we reap what we sow.

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