Jessica R. Patch recently posted a blog on giving in which she told of asking her seven year-old son Myles what he’d do if someone gave him a million dollars. Without even pausing to think, he said he’d give half to God and keep half. Myles’s reply and the blog Jessica wrote about it, got me to thinking on the subject of Christian giving.
In my comment on her blog, I admitted my answer would have been far from that at age seven—or age thirty-seven for that matter. In my youth and early adulthood, I was a fairly self-centered person. Might as well ‘fess up.
It’s not that I didn’t care about anyone else. It’s just that I’d been so broke for so long the main thing on my mind was making a million dollars—or two or ten. Not to build a better mousetrap, just to make a lot of money.
Funny thing is, as long as I had that goal, I never even came close. Nearing age forty I found myself single again, broke and jobless. Not a good prospect. God had to lead me through several steps to get my focus away from self and money and onto others and giving.
First, He exposed me to the standard prosperity gospel message that if I would give to Him (His church, His people, etc.), I would receive my gift back multiplied a hundredfold. Now that thought appealed to me at the time. I didn’t stop to think it through to its logical conclusion. I just grabbed onto it. I figured at that rate it wouldn’t take but a few cycles to make me the millionaire I’d always wanted to be.
Of course, it didn’t work out exactly that way, but God did honor the fact that I was giving money I couldn’t begin to afford to give, and He began to open doors for me. Over a period of time, I did manage to build my income back to where I could support my daughter when she moved in with me around her sixteenth birthday.
All of that is preliminary, though. God also exposed me to the 21st verse of Matthew 6. To remind you of the context of this familiar passage, I’ll include verses 19 & 20 also:
19 “aDo not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
20 “But store up for yourselves atreasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;
21 for awhere your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 
I’d read these verses before. Numerous times. But I’d never given them any particular thought. Fortunately, God had brought me to disciple under a great Bible teacher, and he put meaning here that had never occurred to me.
Growing up, I’d been taught that I should tithe because I was supposed to. Period. Then, more recently, I’d been taught that I should tithe to get back more from God than I gave Him. Well, He always gives us more than we give Him, but that’s a pretty shallow motive for giving. Finally, at age forty, I was exposed to a profound truth about giving. Where I put my treasure, my heart would follow.
If you’re a farmer, your heart is on the weather channel and the commodities index.
A broker’s heart is on the ups and downs of the stock market. Surely one’s heart does follow one’s money.
What I realized as my teacher pounded this passage into my consciousness was that God gave me the instrument of the tithe as a tool to get my heart into His kingdom. Wow! I’d realized for some years by that time that His kingdom should be more important to me than it was, but I couldn’t change myself. Now He was giving me a tool for that change.
As the motivation for my tithing changed, several things in my life changed. For one thing, my finances changed to the point that I no longer worried about them—but that was just a bonus. The real change was within me.
He instilled in me a soul-deep desire to give to others in need. At the same time, He led me to care about others. No longer were they just one-dimensional faceless people put there to serve my meal or check me out at the grocery store or cash my checks at the bank. They became real, three-dimensional, flesh-and-blood people who had lives far beyond their obvious functions in serving my needs. I began to enjoy visiting with such people when I wasn’t interrupting their jobs—coming to know little bits about them, their families, their needs.
I’m still a sinner saved by grace, but God is slowly and surely changing me and transforming me to make me more Christ-like. Got a long way to go, but the journey is good, and becoming a giver was the key to opening the door for me.
· What thoughts enter your mind when you give?
· Are you the Pharisee who passes by someone in need or the Samaritan who stops to help?
· What has God done in your life to bring you closer to Him?
David N. Walker is a Christian father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years as a health insurance agent. Most of that career was spent in Texas, but for a few years he traveled many other states. He started writing about 20 years ago, and has six unpublished novels to use as primers on how NOT to write fiction. Since his retirement from insurance a few years ago, he has devoted his time to helping Kristen Lamb start Warrior Writers’ Boot Camp and trying to learn to write a successful novel himself.
 New American Standard Bible
I loved your post, David. I, too, have worked through a lot of those different philosophies over the years. We tithe, but it’s because we want to, and we do it cheerfully, because “God loves a cheerful giver.”
Thanks for stopping by, Jeff, and for your comments. God bless you.
You’re right. I like this post a lot. God has always been a part of my life, but organized religion is a hard sell for me. My pastor growing up was so close minded. I like what you say about giving. You shouldn’t give out of guilt, or to be blessed. You should give from your heart because giving for the right reasons affects your heart. It makes you feel good. I think if you do that, even if God doesn’t bless you with lots of money, you are blessed with treasures.
Thanks, Jill. The church has damaged a lot of Christians over the last two centuries, but don’t let that keep you from fellowshipping with other Christians. Fellowship can be a Sunday School class or home fellowship or any gathering of Christians. It doesn’t have to be a formal service with a sermon, although that does have a place.
Excellent post! I love reading life lessons! Thank you for linking to my blog as well. 🙂 Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Glad you didn’t mind my stealing your son’s story, Jessica.
Thank you for the great post David. I heard an interesting sermon recently in which the priest said that everything we have comes from God, including our money, time, possessions etc. Therefore, when we give to the church we are merely returning to God what is his. I certainly need to give more to the church and to others!
Thanks for stopping by, Katheryn. And you’re right – we can never give too much.
Oh I love your post, David.
I’ll never forget the lesson I learned about giving. Sweet hubby and I wanted to donate a certain amount, but knew there was no way we could afford to give so much. Convicted, we committed to the gift anyway. Less than a month later, the money for the donation was in the bank. God not only impressed upon us the need to give and the amount to give, but He also, then, provided the money to give! He is so faithful!
Amen, Marji. He makes provision before we even know there’s a need.
I find this hard financially. I give to my church. But not enough. There. I said it.
I find it easier to do this with time and love and Starbucks’ treats, and it does come back.
Regarding farmers (I grew up on a large grain farm)…there is a neat program called the Canadian Food Grains Bank, where farmers can donate the grain (which is sold) to benefit those without. My uncle took part before he retired.
Thanks for making me think, D.
No guilt trips here, Leanne. As I mentioned in the blog, I didn’t find “should” or “ought to” to be very compelling reasons to tithe. God always works with us as individuals. I merely described what He did with me and the result.
He may take you through some progression like He did me, or He may leave you doing exactly what you are currently doing. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel guilty by comparing you with someone else. God made YOU to YOU.
As the Jewish blogger own the room, we do not tithe –but we give annually to our synagogue to which we are affiliated and then we are commanded to do mitzvot — one of which is tikun olam or “heal the world.” This can be done in many ways: through community service, donations of time and/or money, etc.
People often joke about the fact that there are a lot of Jewish doctors. Yes, mothers plant these seeds early — but not for the reasons people often assume. Helping the sick is considered one of the most honorable things to da — one of the most direct ways to G-d. I used to argue with my husband who would choose to only spend one full day in temple during Rosh Hashana instead of the two full days that I had been taught was appropriate. It took a rabbi to tell me that my husband’s choice to help the sick was acceptable!
Whatever our religious background, the spirit of the Divine is truly present when people choose to give back. It is truly beautiful.
Thank you for sharing your story of how you have changed over the years. I think eventually most people realize the pursuit of money alone is pretty empty. Isn’t that the message of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol? And, as you point out, it is never too late to have a change of heart and start giving.
Thank you, Renee, for sharing the Jewish slant on giving. As an evangelical Christian, I hold Jews to be very special people, and I hope nothing I write from a Christian viewpoint ever offends you or any other Jew.
The changes in you over the years have always been interesting to me, David. And I have come to a deeper understanding and appreciation for the person you have become. This blog helps me to understand more fully. Thanks for sharing … and for being you. Love, Barb
Thanks, Sis. A lot of change was – and still is – needed.