This past weekend, Pastor Allan told us in his sermon that God has “Double Dog Dared” us to give 10% of our income to him through our local church (if you missed it, you can watch the sermon here and see the live interview with me and my husband). Now God initiates this double dog dare in the book of Malachi 3:8-10:
Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me!
“But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’
“You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!
Right there, when God says “Try it! Put me to the test” he’s daring us to tithe (a term that means a tenth or 10%) our income. My husband, Lee, and I decided to take God up on that dare just over a year ago now, and I’ve got to say that God has truly blessed us.
I wasn’t always a “tither.” I wasn’t taught to tithe my income to God while I grew up, even though I grew up Catholic. It wasn’t until I started coming to to the Bridge about two years ago with my husband (boyfriend at the time) that I started to give some of my income to the church. It was my second or third time going to the Bridge when Pastor Allan gave a sermon about tithing. At first I was a little hesitant, because I didn’t fully trust God yet at that point, but I did have a $5 bill in my wallet so I decided to put it in the offering box. Soon after, I increased that offering to $20, and within a few weeks of making that small augmentation, God blessed me with a raise at work! To me it was God’s way of saying that he was pleased with what I was doing, and that I should continue. As for Lee, he’s been tithing ever since he was young, so this wasn’t a foreign concept to him
After Lee and I were married in February of 2015, we took a financial course here at the Bridge where we learned about managing our finances God’s way. We learned that we need to “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”(Mark 12:17), and what’s left is for us to enjoy (there’s more to it than that of course, but for the sake of this blog post I’ll keep it simple.) At first, we didn’t think we could “afford” to tithe 10%, but through the course we discovered that it wasn’t a question of affordability…but more a question of trust in God. It was a sort of a challenge to change the way we were frivolously spending our money.
And so my husband and I began to budget our income. We took the money we were earning and gave each dollar a purpose. We were ready to fully trust God. First, we calculated our 10% tithe. Then we added in all of our bills, school loans and household needs, and finally whatever was left became our “fun money.” Although we started out with $40/month of fun money to share, we were happy that we put our full trust in God. Because of this God blessed us in April of 2015 by giving us the opportunity to buy the little house we currently live in. At that point, we hardly noticed the tithing money coming out of our bank account (we have our tithe set up through auto-withdrawal so we don’t even have to think about it), and with our mortgage and utilities being about the same as our apartment, things kept just kept on rolling as if nothing ever changed (financially speaking). Now just over a year since we got married and started tithing, God has blessed us with the comforts of home, and the comfort of having a sound budget. In business terms, we’ve seen a 100% return on investment!
So if you’re thinking of taking God up on his Double Dog Dare to tithe your income, I have a few steps for you:
- Set up a budget. (I suggest using Quicken or YouNeedABudget.com for a small fee or if you prefer a free version, Mint.com is a good place to start.)
- Go all in! It may be tempting to start small or contribute what you can “afford,” but remember it’s not a question of affordability, but that of trust in God. Think of it like getting in a cold pool…if you take the ladder, you feel the bite of the ice cold water with every step, tempting you to turn around and get out of the pool…but if you jump into the pool in one shot, sure you feel that cold bite at first, but as you wade around in the water…you become more accustomed to it.
- Reap the blessings – now these blessings don’t always come as a raise, or finding the perfect house…they could be anything really, but I can promise you that God won’t leave you hanging. Be patient, the blessings will come.
I encourage you to really think and pray about your decision to tithe. Don’t just do it because you have to, do it because you want to reveal to God that in your heart, you trust him fully. As Paul says in his second letter to the Corinthians 9:7:
You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”
So…have you accepted God’s Double Dog Dare?