Sara and Justin Kraft
The Art of Tithing
Justin: Giving is a topic which makes us uncomfortable. No one likes asking or being asked for money. However, money has incredible spiritual power. In his book, Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic, Mathew Kelly notes that there are four spiritual activities related to money. They are earning, spending, saving, and giving. In the church it has been common practice to speak about stewardship or the giving of time, talent, and treasure. Today, we are going to speak about treasure – financial giving and tithing.
Sara: It’s that not that giving of your time and abilities isn’t important. Giving these things is extremely important. All three are beautiful gifts. However, sacrificial financial giving has changed both of our lives and deepened our relationship with God in profound ways. It can change yours too.
Tithing and Percentage Giving
The term tithe is a biblical term. It means “tenth” and the practice of tithing involves giving one tenth of your income and it is the recommended value within the scriptures. The practice of tithing dates back to the book of Genesis.
“Jacob then made this vow: “If God will be with me and protect me on this journey I am making and give me food to eat and clothes to wear, and I come back safely to my father’s house, the LORD will be my God. This stone that I have set up as a sacred pillar will be the house of God. Of everything you give me, I will return a tenth part to you without fail.”” (Genesis 28: 20-22)
Moreover, God specifically commends the practice through the prophet Malachi, telling us to test his generosity through our own.
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse,
That there may be food in my house.
Put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts,
And see if I do not open the floodgates of heaven for you,
and pour down upon you blessing without measure!” (Malachi 3:10)
In other words, God will not be outdone in generosity.
10% the Perfect Number
Justin: We understand it may be difficult to just start giving 10% immediately and we have some tips below on giving in way that will transform your life. However, we still think it is still worth looking at this number of 10%.
I kind of lucked into the practice of tithing. I was in a job where I was responsible for fundraising my own salary and began giving because I realized I could not ask God to be generous with me unless I was willing to be generous with him. For me, it was an act of trust.
What I discovered was that God did not want my money. He wanted me, my heart, but my heart was directly linked to my wallet.
Sara: When we first started dating, one of the first things I noticed about Justin was that he took giving to the church seriously. In fact, he challenged me to start tithing or giving ten percent of my income. As a recent college grad, with a car payment and the expenses of living on my own the first time, this was incredibly scary. However, once I started consistently giving God the first fruits of my labor, God blessed me exponentially.
This is because God changed my heart. He changed my desires, my wants, and my needs. In fact, I found a way to sacrifice and pay my car loan off three years early. Throughout our marriage, we have consistently made giving ten percent a priority, whether in lean times or prosperous times.
Justin: Giving 10% has been challenging at times, but never more than we can handle. It has required intentional sacrifice. We have definitely made decisions to give up things (no internet on our cell phones and giving up cable for example). However, we have never had to give up anything we really needed.
Ten percent is just enough to push us well beyond our comfort zone. It makes us feel that pinch and certainly life would be easier without doing it. However, it also puts us in regular contact with the Lord. It forces us to live in that remote wilderness into which our Lord Jesus constantly withdrew to commune with the Father. Here we discuss with the Father our needs, fears, and desires. We discover what is truly important to Him and to us. We learn to trust and over time we have discovered Malachi’s promise is true and that every financial challenge is somehow met with a loaf of bread from the Lord.
The Art of Financial Giving: 3 Keys to Change Your Life
Sara: There are three keys to giving that changes your life which we would like you to consider this week. (Even if you can’t start at 10%).
First, give intentionally. Plan your giving. Make it part of your budget. Think about it at home. If you are married, talk about it with your spouse. Change requires intentionality.
Secondly, be a percentage giver. This is part of being an intentional giver. Pray about and commit to giving a percentage of your income (even if it is not 10%). This will help you plan your giving. Percentage giving also allows us to act with great confidence in God, as it allows God to bless us so that we may bless others.
Finally, give sacrificially. Sacrificial giving is the real key to giving which will change your life. I challenge you that regardless of the number, whatever percentage you pledge, choose a percentage that requires sacrifice. Take a step forward this year. If you have never given based on a percentage of your income, do so. If you are already giving a percentage, give a little more than you did last year. Work toward 10%. Go home this week. Talk with your spouse about what you can give up daily, weekly, or monthly to increase your giving. Make intentional decisions. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be.
So this is an invitation. Giving is an act of trust. Will you make this act? I encourage you to give more than you thought possible, so that God can cause you to grow more than you thought possible.