Working Toward a Tithe

Every year, my wife and I sit down to look at our expected income for the next year and re-adjust our tithe; but it wasn't always that way.
When I first started, I gave... let's say, "spontaneously" (that feels like a positive word!). That meant I would give the largest bill that happened to be in my wallet that Sunday.

I know, carrying cash, what is this the stone ages?

Some weeks it was easy to pass along a fiv-er or even a $20, but every once in a while I needed to test my mettle with a $50 or God-forbid a $100 bill!
My heart was tested every week, but I was still only in the early stages. I was practicing spontaneous generosity rather than wise stewardship. God calls us to be wise stewards of all creation and that includes the financial resources he's provided.

Generosity says "this is mine, but I'll give it to you"
Stewardship says "this is all God's so, I will manage it how he would like me to."
So, my wife and I took a Dave Ramsey "Financial Peace" course and learned about budgeting, saving, and first of all "tithing." Tithe literally means 10% and was originally instituted as a tax in the nation of Israel.

Now, as Christians we use the Tithe as a standard of stewardship rather than a legal requirement. God doesn't want us to give out of obligation, but out of joy and gratitude and I have found that the best way to do that is to upgrade from the "spontaneous generosity" method to the " wise stewardship" method.
It took a while to get there though. We initially tried to get to 10% and it looked like we would run out of money long before we ran out of month. So we started at 3.5%. Then the next year it moved up to 4%, then a change in jobs and it moved to 6%, then a year with a raise and it moved to 7.5%. Then a tough year left us at 7.5% even though we had an income loss. Despite the loss, we ended the year with enough and despite not seeing how ends would meet we jumped up to 10% and saw God provide. Every month we lived off of 90% of our income and it was enough.
And yes, that takes planning and preparation.

So each year we sit down to estimate our annual income, calculate what 10% of that would be, divide it my 12 months, and then create an automated giving for that amount using the Valley Chapel app (see below to try it yourself). This makes it so that generosity is not dependent on the state of our hearts (or our wallets) that week, but on an intentional choice to structure our lives around an awareness of God being our provider.
What I find most beautiful is that now we no longer consider whether we "can" give 10%. Instead we give it and figure out what we "can" do afterwards. One thing we found that we can do is set aside extra for spontaneous generosity (it all comes full circle). We enjoy the assurance that we are stewarding God's resources as well as the joy of helping out in circumstances that move our hearts.

And it is all possible because of God's provision that empowered our intentional planning.
That's our giving journey. Yours will likely look a little different. You may be working on your estate planning and deciding whether tithing is a part of your end of life plan. You may have investments that you are thinking about tithing from the interest, or perhaps you are ready to make the move from "I have nothing to give" to "I'll give some of the little I have."

Whatever you decide, know that God's love for you is not dependent on how much you give. God loves you no matter what and in his love and wisdom knows that the act of giving will be formative to your soul.
So, as you RE:23, reviewing, revisiting, reconsidering, and revising your giving plan for 2023, I pray you experience the joy that comes with giving and as a result you see God's provision in your life all the more clearly.

Set up your recurring giving for 2023

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Ryan Rovito

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