Every Sunday as far back as I can remember, my entire family was up earlier than most for one reason, church. The frantic morning rush, battling my two sisters for the bathroom after waking up too late, was met by the hurried tone of my parents to get in the car so we wouldn’t be late. Finally arriving for service, we found our usual pew in the middle left, not so far back to ensure we seem engaged, but not so close to the front so as not to be seen as over spiritual.
This Sunday routine was often disrupted as various family members volunteered to serve across the ministries of the church. Regardless, we always found our seat and always enjoyed the fellowship of the church community. Our attendance did not end on a Sunday, but continued into board meetings, youth ministry, worship practice and the countless events taking place across the calendar.
You could say my family life and even personal life have revolved around church. The saying, “born in a pew” would rightly apply for my siblings and I. Growing up in Sunday school right through to the many stages of youth group I learned the fullness of Christian fellowship and developed a strong, established faith. But, among all of the foundational Christian principles there was one that I always struggled to maintain. It was one I was shown over and over again as we sat in that same pew in that same building for service after service.
Once a month my mother, almost in secret, pulled her checkbook from her purse and wrote out numbers, a signature and the words “tithe” on a check. Then as the collection containers passed she slipped the enveloped check in. Month after month, year after year, I witnessed this simple but profound routine. There was little discussion around finances at home, but when it came to tithing I was always reminded that it was God who had blessed us and we give back to Him from that blessing. Through my parents’ faithfulness I have witnessed God’s faithfulness, not just to them and the family, but even extended to me personally.
Now as an adult, a husband and a father, I have the opportunity to instill this same eternal value into my life and my family.
God has been gracious to me. Over my time as a pastor and a leader in churches I have attended, my tithing has been less than average. It’s something I am not proud of but a part of my journey to understanding God’s favor in my life, even when I don’t honor Him with my finances.
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Now being a part of my current church which I call home, I have had the opportunity to intentionally and wilfully offer my 10% and more as a declaration of God’s faithfulness to me. Over the past 2 years of truly developing this fundamental Christian habit, God has transformed the heart of my wife and I. Allowing us to see life through the lens of generosity and abundance and not through the perspective of lack and cynicism. This newly forming paradigm has girded our faith in times that are financially challenging and has given us a hope and vision of God’s favor to us.
As I reflect on this topic there are two learnings that stand out to me:
- I was shown a living example, through my parents, of a life of generosity and of faithful giving. Yet what I feel could have propelled my personal life to succeed in this area is wise and clear teaching on the importance and blessing of tithing. As Christians, as leaders, and as pastors, we meditate on the words of Christ. In studying His words and teaching we find that many of Jesus’ parables were shaped around financial principles. It seems Jesus was not shy to speak on the topic of money…nor should those following in His example. Imagine a church that passionately pursued tithing and giving generously to the work of the kingdom as a fundamental part of living out their faith.
- The verse of Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you,” speaks to me not just about tithing but of generosity in action. Tithing is just the beginning of a heart transformation, from a life that is stubborn towards God’s work to a life that is generous in all that it touches. This kind of generosity is not stagnant, is not boring, is not cautious, but is bold and trusts God’s faithfulness beyond what the eyes can see. It is a generosity that transforms families, relationships, churches and communities, to experience the abundance of love found in Jesus Christ.
As we give according to what we have, He will give back to us in good measure, running over for all to enjoy. When we individually practice and teach the basic Christian principle of tithing, we engage with the very heart of God, a heart of generosity, faithfulness and abundance.
— Submitted: Patrick Montelongo