This is Part 1 of a 3 part series. I felt like the topic was important enough because it marks a 180 degree transformation and change of my previous belief and understanding.
For the last 90-100 years of my life, I have adamantly believed that “tithing” has no place in the New Testament church. Giving yes. Tithing No.
Essentially I taught that tithing was an Old Testament concept that was only spoken of negatively in the New Testament. Jesus did away with the Law, and we live by grace and freedom.
One of the things I took note of as I read, especially in the NT, was how many times it appeared that we as Christians are not under the Law and that we have freedom from it. I further built my case as to why tithing was not a New Testament teaching. Here is the summary of my argument, both from Scripture and observation:
We are not under the Law, but under grace.
- God loves a cheerful giver, and the NT only speaks of tithing as a negative.
- If it’s so important, why did Jesus never teach about tithing?
- The majority of preachers who preach tithing do so out of fear that they won’t meet their church budget.
- American churches are too financially strapped with all their building programs and ministry programs that they need the extra funding.
The more I believed this, the less graceful I was becoming. The more I taught this to others, the less cheerful I was when I gave. The more I believed this, the less I gave.
In other words, I was becoming a jerk about it – almost Pharisaic.
Granted, I know that some of those things are true regarding motivations of some leaders, but that is not for me to judge the motivations of a man’s heart. What is about me is that I was becoming legalistic, sour, and stingy.
And that is not who I wanted to be… who I know at my core I am not. God was about to change all of my arguments.
Then Came October 6th
I work from home and make my living on the Internet building and promoting websites. To set the context for the day leading up to October 6th, Google has just updated their algorithm on Oct 4th to determine how sites rank in the search engines. This radically changed the rankings of my websites – which has a very direct impact on my income. If you’re on page 1 of Google, life is good. If you drop to page 5 or 6 of Google, no one knows you exist.
I had been through these algorithm changes before, but this was worse. How was I going to fix it this time? How was I going to make up the income difference? How was I going to make it? I was pretty devastated. I spent 2 days researching, reading, trying to fix things, trying to recover my site.
During September, our family had begun visiting some churches around our town. We ended up at Gateway Church in Grand Prairie, where we returned for the next few weeks. Pastor Robert Morris was preaching through a series called “Free Indeed.”
We went to Gateway the morning of Oct. 6th. I was exhausted from trying to figure out what happened and why my websites dropped in the search engines. Pastor Robert preached on how pride opened the door to bondage – most notably, trusting in your own strength, in your own righteousness, and in your own wisdom. From somewhere deep within, the Holy Spirit was speaking to me (A voice I hadn’t heard quite so clearly in a while). I knew I needed to go forward to get prayer and repent of my pride.
Dozens upon dozens had already gone forward for prayer. I hung back to allow some of the crowd to clear. As I went forward, I was directed to a guy named Derek. I had never met him before. I explained why I was there, but God had something additional in mind to address with me.
I had come forward because I had pride in my own wisdom (the 3rd point of Pastor Robert’s message). After all, I had built my business and I had worked hard to rank my sites in the search engines. While I never truly believed that it was “I,” it was how I had been acting for the last few years. It was clear that I had pride in my own wisdom.
But, God wanted to make sure we covered “pride in my own righteousness” as well.
Derek looked at me and asked if he could share something else with me that he believed God was wanting me to hear. He asked if I had been reluctant to tithe (how could Derek have known this?). He said that God understood my fear and that I could trust Him and that He would provide for me.
I think Derek saw the somewhat-stunned look on my face. He said he deals in the prophetic sometimes, and he believed this was a word from God, for me.
Derek went on to say that God knew that I had been struggling with tithing for a long time. He said that at my core, I was a giver – that I truly loved to be able to give to the needy, the poor, the widows. I could trust Him that He would bring me back to that place where I could give again. I could trust Him in bringing my tithe.
Derek asked how many children I had… but he said God had already told him – three. That they loved me and could look to me as an example of giving. Derek also brought up my dad (this is where it got a bit overwhelming), and my dad’s anger issues. I told Derek that my parents were divorced when I was 2, but yes, he was a very angry person. My dad left the church 46 years ago over money issues. Derek asked if I had anger issues. I told him that God dealt with me on this subject several years ago, but yes I had anger issues in the past. Derek nodded his head as if to say, “yes, your issues over money seem to run in the family.”
Derek then proceeded to pray with me and for me. To repent of my fear and pride, for the restoration of my business. And most of all, to trust Him that He would take care of me and provide.
While it is very difficult to re-capture that moment at the alter, and even more difficult to remember all of the words that were said, this much I know – that God loved me and was gracious with me, to reach out and speak to me, a sour, stingy, proud man, and let me know I can trust Him and that He loves me.
I shared this with my family while driving home… excited, joyful, and a few tears as I struggled to speak while blubbering a bit. With great joy, cheerfulness, and honor, I wrote the first tithe check I had written in a very, very long time the next Sunday!
I am grateful for a guy like Derek, a stranger, who was willing to allow God to speak through him to share this word. I am grateful that God allowed Google to drop my site, to put my heart in the right place to hear His word, that morning on October 6th.
(part 2 can be found by going here)