Learning to Joyfully Tithe Even When It Hurts Your Wallet

“Don’t forget tithing,” my husband said. We were making a new budget. The last check from my most recent writing gig had already been spent. Our savings had taken a hit from taxes. I stared at the numbers I had written on a scrap of paper before me. I let out a sigh as I subtracted 10% of our earnings from the already dwindling total. What we were left with made my stomach churn. How on earth were we supposed to survive? If we didn’t tithe this month, I thought, then we’d be so much more comfortable. We could save some money for the vacation we had already agreed to go on with my parents this summer. We could put a little away to help rebuild our savings. But no, we both knew we needed to tithe. There was no way around it. 

Let’s face it, tithing can be hard. Letting go of our hard earned money, especially when there doesn’t seem to be much extra cash flowing your way, isn’t easy to do. Living is expensive, and we naturally want to cling to our money, whether it’s plentiful or not. In seasons of hardship, not tithing can be an overwhelming temptation. However, there is great joy in tithing, joy that can be experienced even when it hurts.

Tithing Teaches Us to Cut Out the Excess

No matter how I try to spin it, not tithing is selfish. Even when the monthly budget is tight, there’s always something that can be sacrificed. See ya New York Times subscription. Toodleloo eating out. Sayonara wine club subscription. These extras are just that, extras. Tithing isn’t meant to punish us or make life harder, it’s meant as a sacrifice of the excess in our lives. Don’t get me wrong, God want us to have nice things, but having nice things isn’t really the point is it?

Tithing is Our Response to the Physical Blessings of God

Whether we like it or not, everything we earn, is from God above. I’m not here to open up a theological debate about free will. But I am here to say that we should be thankful to God for the job that we have and the income it provides. Tithing is thus our response to these physical blessings. It displays our gratitude to God for what we have been blessed with, be it money or our acknowledgement of the gift of eternal life from Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

Tithing Provides God a Way to Take Care of You

If you understand the mechanics of health insurance, it might help you gain a better understanding of the purpose of tithing. The idea with health insurance is that the healthy people pay for the sick people. Even if you’re “sick” you end up paying for someone who is sicker than you. Tithing is much the same. When we tithe to our church, we’re doing two things: Aiding in the care of the “spiritually sick” and those in physical need of monetary support.

Tithing Out of Our Poorness Induces Faith

When pinching pennies and tithing come into play, I often think of the woman with the copper coins. While rich men and women were dropping wads of cash into the collection box at the temple, this poor widow drops in two copper coins, just a penny’s worth. Jesus, who was standing by watching this take place praises her for her offering.

“I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on” (Mark 12:43-44).

A penny doesn’t seem like much, but when it’s all that you have, it’s a tremendous act of faith. When we tithe like the poor widow, we’re proclaiming our trust in God’s provision for our lives. Giving when you have so little to give is an act of faith.

Tithing Reveals Our Heart

In the same passage as the woman with the copper coins, Jesus is actively watching people at the collection box. Why? Because what we tithe or don’t tithe reveals our heart’s true nature. God is interested in our giving, it’s like a meter for our faith and trust in His promises to us. I used to have a bad habit of giving. I’d do it once a year at my church’s big giving event. I justified this by the fact that I was living under the poverty line in terms of income, yet I still managed to maintain a lavish life by the poor’s standards. In reality, I was terrified that God wouldn’t come through, so I clung to my money instead. I wonder what blessings I robbed myself of during that time.

In both the short term and the long term, tithing is meant to be an intentional practice that teaches us that everything we have, God is entitled to. Beyond that, tithing becomes an act of reflection and faith building. Tithing offers us an opportunity to reflect on just how good we really have it. When tithing is done faithfully and consistently, we begin to understand that we’re not just meant to be consumers. With consistent giving comes continued blessings. Through tithing, God takes care of us.

Tithing is worth it, even when it hurts.