Devotional for Week of October 13th, 2014

2 Corinthians 9:7 — 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.

Tithing is a topic that often makes people cringe.  Pastors often stay away from it, because they don’t want to offend their congregants.  But often churches are in dire need of more people in their congregations tithing.

When I say tithing I don’t mean “a tenth”, because that might not be what works for everyone.  Yes, God asks us to give a tenth in scripture, but I argue that more important than giving a tenth is simply giving (to start)–and more importantly giving from our first fruits.

The portion of this verse that is often repeated and often creates guilt is “…God loves a cheerful giver.”  So does that mean that if I’m not cheerful when I give, that God doesn’t love me?  No, it means that you are probably doing one of two things:  you are giving beyond your means or you are giving compulsively.

The beginning of this verse reminds us that our tithing is between us and God.  It’s important for us to be honest with God about our intentions and our fears surrounding tithing.  It’s important that we not try hide away our treasures from God, because He knows what we have and what we are able to do with it.  We may not be able to afford giving ten percent of our gross income, but can we do ten percent of net?  Maybe we can do six percent now, and work up to ten percent.  The important thing to remember is that God deserves what is first.

In our house we have set up our budget in a way that we don’t account for tithing in our bills.  We put our tithe at the top as soon as we build the spreadsheet or jot things on paper.  We do this so that it is never forgotten, never left out.  God has brought us through some tough financial times over the last several years, so we feel that it’s important we continue to give to His works first.

I don’t say this to toot our horn, but simply to give an idea of what might work for you.  Each person has a different number and a different method.  It is between you and God what numbers and methods you choose to use.  When you are sure of your numbers and your methods, and when you’ve taken your fears and intentions surrounding your tithe to God, then you can give without compulsion, reluctance, or guilt.  Then, you will be on your way to being a cheerful giver.

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for all the gifts you have given me.  Please help guide my heart and my mind in decisions about tithing.  Lord, help me see the purpose in my giving, and help me to find comfort in giving to your works even when I am struggling.

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