Thursday, May 26, 2016


Let's talk about... tithing, baby!  [Gulp... gag... turns away in awkward embarrassment...]  Money stuff can rub people the wrong way.  It becomes something we *don't* won't to talk about because it can be awkward.

But... here we go, anyway!

Here are a few money/tithing moments that stand out to me:

When I was young, I went to a church that was always in need of a roof.  So, in efforts to raise money for the roof, the following fundraising endeavor occurred:  When it was someone's birthday/birthday week, they were expected to stand up on stage in front of the entire congregation.  The congregation would sing to them.  Then the person would be expected to put money into a birthday box that was equal to their age.  Happy Birthday.  The box never went away.  The roof needed to be re-done multiple times.  If it wasn't the roof, it was air-conditioning or carpet that wouldn't look so bad in wedding photos.  This left a general distaste in my mouth.  Not only was it awkward, but I began to tell myself that I could spend my money better than that church could.  Even though I was beginning to have mixed feelings about God anyway, I hypothesized that we shouldn't care about the color of the carpet nearly as much as starving people... And I was pretty sure in my youthful and cynical mind that the way to go about it probably wasn't the birthday box.  This fundraising colored my view of all things financial related to the church.  Why tithe?  This was not a win for tithing in my mind.

When I was young, I helped with children's church during the summer  It. Was. Amazing.  My mom developed such an awesome program, and one of the many components included tithing.  All of the children would receive ten pennies for that Sunday for their "work".  (Depending on the summer, theme it may have been work in the "orchard" or work in the "armory" etc.)  Pennies could be lost due to behavior.  One of the ten pennies was taken up for offering for God.  They were free to spend the other nine pennies at the store.  Although at first some of the children objected, it did not take long for them to see that they could give God one of the pennies and He still managed to meet their every want and desire at the store.  That was a win for tithing.

When I was older, I didn't attend church or believe in God.  Therefore, my money was mine.  My time was mine.  Everything was all mine... A win for me... Or so I thought...

When I first began re-attending church, I put anonymous cash in the offering plate because I did not want anyone to know how little I was contributing.  I was embarrassed.  And I wasn't all-in.  And I was ashamed that I was not all-in while simultaneously not wanting to change.  It wasn't just money - I wasn't all-in on multiple levels.  I did not have a regard for church or trust in God.  I also failed to have confidence that God could take my little bit and multiply it.  I failed to see the simple math.  I did not see that my little bit plus your little bit plus all the other little bits added up to contribute to some major Kingdom work.  But if I left out my little bit... and so did you... and so did everyone else... thinking that it was inconsequential and not useful... well, then we'd not have anything... 

And now?  I'm all-in with Jesus.  I'm all-in with the Church of the Nazarene.  I'm all-in with PoC.  I'm all-in with tithing.  I trust God to be who He says He is.  Plus, it all belongs to Him anyway... Not just my money... but my time... my "talents" (still trying to figure those out, ha, but I'm sure they exist!)  I belong to Jesus.  I am His responsibility.  

To be frank, there are a million and one thoughts that are zooming around in my brain at warp speed at any given time.  Tithing is not one that consumes my thoughts.  I simply don't have enough room in there.  For whatever reason, I take it with the childlike faith that God encourages us to have.  I simply tithe, trust God to take care of me, and don't think much about it beyond that.  A lot of this is God's transformation in me as I have grown to love and trust Him, coupled with what might be some natural hard-wiring.  (If you've seen the Big Bang Theory episode where Sheldon lends Penny money because she cannot pay her rent... she freaks out... he does not... Anyway, I think I might be Sheldon.  It's that simple in his mind... Penny needs money.  Sheldon has money.  Plus, it would be less awkward to give Penny the money than to pass Penny in the street living in a card board box.  Ha... but, I digress...)

I love Psalm 5:1-3.  I love it... in every version of the Bible.  Although it is not about tithing, this is the verse that comes to mind most often when I think about tithing... or when I think about how everything - all of me - belongs to God.  Here it is in the Message version:  "Listen, GOD!  Please, pay attention!  Can you make sense of these ramblings, my groans and cries?  King-God, I need your help.  Every morning you'll hear me at it again.  Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on your altar and watch for fire to descend."  

Every day, we have the choice - in our decisions, in our interactions with people, with our finances and health, in all things... from the biggest to the smallest decisions... to lay every last little bit down at the altar, and wait for God to do something with all of it.

So, that's what I try to do when it comes to tithing and when it comes to everything.

So... that's my tithing story.  

As you pray today, I encourage you to reflect upon your tithing story.  Maybe you've had experiences that have negatively impacted your view.  Or maybe your experiences have been great.  Maybe you've viewed your "little bit" as so little that it wouldn't be missed.  Maybe tithing is very simple for you, or maybe it is a battle every time to write that check (or push the give button if you tithe electronically...)  Regardless, I encourage you to spend time with God.  He loves you.  He cares for you.  He's listening.  Maybe He wants to have a conversation.  

Pastor Celia

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