Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:
“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
their righteousness endures forever.”
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
2 Corinthians 9:6-15
On Sunday, our Corps officer started a series of four weeks on Giving, in preparation of the start of our Planned Giving program. He talked about the various reasons for tithing – it being biblical, as well as practical. However, he also talked about how for some people the idea of giving 10% of your income can be really tough.
That was very much something that Liesl and I struggled with, and I think it’s something that many young people often struggle with. Having grown up in the Church, it was your parents who gave you the coins to drop into the collection bag/plate. It was usually coins – whatever they had in their purse or wallet. So when it became time for you to start giving on your own, that was what you would do – give whatever coins you had on you at the time.
When it then comes to having to give 10%, you’re generally not earning much, and you find it a real mental struggle to change your outlook to be willing to give of that money.
This passage from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians says that when we give, God will supply for us all our needs. He writes, “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.”
When Liesl and I decided to review our finances with a goal of giving our tithe, we were worried about our finances at the time. We were very much living payday to payday, struggling in the last week before our pays went in. It was very much a large stress in our relationship.
We strongly felt that we needed to tithe, even though it would make our current finances even tighter. So we reworked what we were spending, reworked how we were storing our money and gave it a try.
A couple of months in, and we’re in a much better situation than we were. We haven’t increased our earnings, God hasn’t increased our “store of seed” – however, he has helped us keep to our budget, and we are no longer stressed about money.
The lack of stress, for me at least, is worth far more than any increase in physical wealth. When you’re worried about money, it becomes all you can think about and it’s usually because you’re living at or beyond your means.
I’m glad to be able to say that I’ve never been in debt – apart from my HECS-HELP debt, which will get paid off in my tax returns. I have always had the thought that if I don’t have the money, then I can’t afford it.
However there are those who do live beyond their means – they spend more than they earn. They take out large loans for their house, their car, they buy the biggest TV and sound system and all the latest gadgets. They live so much at the line that when something unexpected happens, such as an interest rate increase, or a small increase due to a carbon tax, they can’t survive.
For those in that situation, I say this: take the time to work out your budget. Live within your means, and ensure you leave room in there for unexpected expenses.
In our budget, we made sure that we weren’t spending all of our money. However, we also didn’t budget in the income from my violin teaching. The reason for this is that I only receive it every term, and it allows us to use this money for things that we may want, but can’t fit into our budget, such as concert tickets, or computer accessories.
When you do your budget, give the first portion. Whether to God as your tithe, or to charity, giving away the first portion is a good thing to do. Paul writes,
“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”
When we give our tithe freely, God ensures that our righteousness will endure forever.