I remember mowing Mrs. Taylor’s yard as a 12 year old and getting the biggest payday I had ever had - $10! That was a lot at the time. I continued down the street with my push mower and knocked out Mrs. Johnson’s and Mrs. Ludlam’s as well.
It wasn’t just mowing, but edging, weed-eating and weeding the flower beds. These ladies expected an immaculate yard. At the end of the afternoon, I had made $30! When I got home, I had to mow our yard without pay. My dad said it was part of my “room and board,” whatever that meant (I totally get it now).
I’ll never forget the conversation I had with my dad that day. “How did you do, son?” I replied, “I made $30.”
“That’s not what I’m talking about,” he said. “Did you do a good job on those widow ladies’ yards?”
You see, a job well done was far more important than bragging about how much I had been paid. That taught me integrity and pride in a job well done.
Then he said, “I need $2 for the gas you used.” You see, profit only came after expenses. That taught me the value of a dollar.
“Be sure and clean up the mower and put it up in the shed.” That taught me about responsibility and honoring another person’s property. What he said next was more important than anything else I learned that day.
“And remember, you owe Jesus $3 off the top.” Tithing was not just something he told me to do, he modeled it.
Every Sunday morning I would see him sit at the kitchen table and write out his tithe check to the local church. Sure, he was a deacon and a trustee in the church. But he was a believer foremost. He could have written it out at any other time but he made sure to do it in front of us. This wasn’t because he wanted to show off. He wanted to demonstrate what a man of God did to honor the Lord.
Proverbs 3:9-10 says, “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfuits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing and your vats will brim over with new wine.”
Trust me, tithing never made us rich, and that’s the misconception for many today. What it did, however, was demonstrate that God was our provider.
Tithing also demonstrated we were partners and investors in God’s Kingdom and local church. Church is a people, not just a place we attend. We just didn’t go and get, we partnered and gave. Church was a way of life, not just an event we showed up to when it was convenient. It really was better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).
Tithing also demonstrated we believed God’s promises and would receive His divine protection for our family (Malachi 3:8-10).
Will being a tither (first 10 percent giver) change your lifestyle? It’s not about what you have to give up, but what you receive. God’s promises, protection, provision, and partnership far outweigh the passing pleasures of this world.
Now, I teach my kids about the blessing, joy, and responsibility of every believer to tithe. Some would say tithing is an Old Testament command of the law, but Abraham gave a tithe 400 years before the Law was even given (Genesis 14:20; Hebrews 7:2). Jesus didn’t tell the Pharisees to stop tithing. He told them to also practice justice, mercy and faithfulness without neglecting tithing (Matthew 23:23, Luke 11:42).
Tithing, like going to church on the first day of the week or giving God the first part of your morning, demonstrates you put God first in all things. Sometimes it’s not about 10 percent. Depending upon ability of the believer and the needs of the body of Christ, it may mean more.
“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Stephen Harrison is the lead pastor of Family Church at White Hall.
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