When I was in late grade school and junior high my father served as the church treasurer for the little United Methodist Church we attended. One of his jobs as the treasurer was to count the offering and prepare it to be deposited at the bank.
One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday afternoon was to help him count the money and prepare the deposit. Little did I realize that I was learning an early lesson on tithing. Not only did I see the giving of others, I also saw my father write out a check of a pre-determined amount–based upon his pay–for our family’s offering.
The Bible talks about giving our “first fruits” to God. Back in Bible days that would have meant bringing the first and best grain, wine, oil, honey, livestock, and produce as an offering to God. Today, in our cash society, we primarily think of tithing as a money offering. A tithe is giving 10% back to God from whatever He gave to us through income, gifts, and other earning possibilities. An offering, in many churches, is considered anything over and above a tithe.
Back when I was a little girl, the only way you “gave” was when the offering plate was passed on Sunday morning. Today, many churches now offer online giving, EFT (electronic funds transfer), app giving, or text-to-give. With online bill pay, some folks choose to automate their giving through online banking. In fact, Mark and I started automating our tithe many years ago when we started paying our bills–and sending our tithe–online through our bank’s website.
Thus why we never put money in the offering plate.
Without forethought and an advanced decision, honestly God could easily get our leftovers instead of our first fruits. I don’t know about you, but we always find a way to spend all of the money we have in hand. However, when we have recurring transfers set up for payday for our tithe and savings, we then become accustomed to living off what is left.
Yes, there have been many times when we’ve had a car repair, a medical bill, or another unexpected expense (really, are medical bills and car repairs unexpected though????) that we’ve been tempted to not tithe and pay that bill instead. It’s the human response!
However, what we’ve found is that when we put God first, He provides in ways we could never have imagined. Sometimes it’s an unexpected refund check because we somehow overpaid car insurance or a medical bill. Sometimes something we’ve had listed online sells. Sometimes it’s a side job someone asks Mark to do and we get a little extra financial gift! We never know how it’s going to happen, we just have come to trust that God will take care of us. Proverbs 3: 9-10 reminds us to “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.”
Of course, the plenty–the blessing–isn’t always financial. God gives to us in many ways including joy, relationships, contentment, and hope. We don’t know how He will choose to work…we just know He will!
Want to watch God work first-hand? Put Him first with your finances. Make an intentional, advance, generous decision of what you will give to God every time He gives (income) to you.
Whether we write out that check every payday to drop in the offering plate or automatically send it through online bill pay, or give through the church’s app or website, what’s most important is that God gets our best!
What about you? How do you make sure God doesn’t just get your leftovers?