July was a very exciting month in many respects and a very challenging one in others. One of my challenges was, and has been, financial management. Without saying too much about my developing budgeting skills, let’s say I got myself in a bind during the month of July; a maxed-out-credit card kind of bind. Thankfully I still have a job and will be able to pay off my careless expenses, but the wound still cut deep. Let me explain.
Since I had to keep a roof over my head (rent) and take care of my blunder (credit card) I was left with not a lot of moolah until my mid-month paycheck. Now, for some people, this may not be a big issue. They can scrape by until the 15th. The reason I was totally devastated over my great monetary deficiency is because I didn’t have lots of money left over to tithe. Yes, you heard right, tithe.
Before you dismiss tithing as a totally outdated and irrelevant concept, let me assure you that giving to the church is not a mere item to check off on your moral do-good list. First, we need to establish the principle for tithing; namely, that everything already belongs to God. James 1:16-18 reminds us that every good gift comes from God and, extending beyond, Psalms 50 gives us a grand picture of the entire Earth and reminds us that the Lord is in control. In plain terms, God owns everything.
How are we to respond? Because we humans have been placed on God’s Earth, He has given us rules and regulations for how we are to function in His creation. Stewardship is the word in question. God gives us a great command to use wisely the gifts we have been given to the glory of God through the proclamation of the Gospel.
Two resources I have found helpful in thinking about giving have been David Platt’s book Radical; I cannot recommend this piece strongly enough! The second is slightly odd, but follow me. Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Pastor Mark Driscoll, has a wealth of resources and information; this is simply a copy of their financial statement a few years ago but read down the document to see what the Bible says about wealth and stewardship. I would direct you these sources as they summarize what I cannot!
What I learned from July’s budget blow-up is that when I’m carless in spending, my worship is hindered. Follow me, for the first time in my life I am tasting what it means to worship Jesus by tithing, by giving my money to the church! I enjoy giving so Grace Community can fill its Christ-centered, Gospel-focused, and Missions-oriented goals. You can see why I am so disappointed in myself. By not reining in my un-checked temporal desires (read: Starbucks lattes and other such nonsense), I am not free to do as I truly want which is love the church with my money.
This impact has been huge for me! I pray this post will serve as a reminder for me to be more faithful and conscious of my spending, not because it will make me a “good person” or because I’ll feel better about my balanced checkbook – but because I can cheerfully obey a commandment from God that I deeply desire to fulfill.