When my husband and I were newly married, we were still undergraduates. Despite both of us working part time jobs, we had very little money our first year of marriage, so to make ends meet and pay the rent, we only had a $25 a week food budget. Thank God for Winco! As there was no online banking at this point in history, I would pull out my checkbook at the beginning of each month to pay bills. We had a habit of calling the checkbook the widow’s jar in reference to the story in 2 Kings 4 in which the widow of Zerepheh would get up every morning to find just enough flour and oil in the jars for that day. Like for her, God always provided enough in our account to pay the bills and not much more.
One of the hardest checks to write each month was our tithe check. We would calculate out 10 percent of what we had earned from our odd jobs, which wasn’t much, in order to give to our church. Both of us had been raised with the principle that to steward your money well, the first thing you did after getting a paycheck was to give a 10 percent tithe, put 10 percent into savings, and then pay your bills, which also implied not spending more than you had. So, that first year of marriage put those principles to the test. Even in months when we were tempted to skip our tithe to cover expenses, God was faithful, and there was just enough in the widow’s jar to cover what we needed.
In our study of Malachi 3:7-15, we find the Israelites withholding their tithes. In doing so, it is likened to robbing God.
- As you read Malachi 3:8-10 and Dueteronomy 14:22-29, why is it so important to God that the Israelites tithe? Hint: Three distinct reasons are shown in the Deuteronomy passage that begin with “so that.”
- Who is provided for with the tithes, and who would suffer the most without them?
- Why might the people of Israel be tempted to not give their tithes?
What made writing the tithe check so hard for my husband and me was that we were tempted to give it to the church with a complaining attitude. We wanted to say, “Lord, we are not going to have enough. We will give You less, so we can take care of our own needs” instead of saying, “Lord, we thank You for Your faithful provision. We trust that You will take care of us.” Our actions demonstrated what our heart believed.
- What is your attitude about tithing?
- Is tithing something that you do on a regular basis? Why or why not?
- After studying Malachi this week, how does God want you to change your perspective on and actions around tithing?
Tithing is not always easy and certainly sounds like a crazy idea to the world around us. But like Brianna said on Monday, my husband and I found that obeying God even in the area of tithing was worth the risk. The act of writing out that check and learning to joyfully give built our trust in Him. It allowed us to be a part of God’s work here on this earth.
Dear Heavenly Father, We confess that we are like the Israelites, grumbling and complaining, not trusting You to provide, and withholding our tithes. Help us, Lord, to have Your perspective. May we see how tithing allows us to fulfil our calling as Your church to be a blessing to the world around us. Fill us with Your joy and teach us to give generously, so we might delight in Your kingdom here on earth. Amen.
— Jamie Harms