A cheerful giver isn’t exactly what I’d call my husband, Don. I recall when the offering plate began its transfer down the pew at the Apostolic Church of God (ACOG) back in 2002, our first year of marriage.
He was comfortable tossing in a couple of Abraham Lincolns, but when I told him we needed to replace those ten dollars with a tenth of our income, he gazed at me like I’d lost my marbles. With one eyebrow raised he snarled, “You can give a tenth of your income, but not with mine!”
I crinkled my forehead. “But, didn’t you hear Bishop Brazier? We’re supposed to tithe!”
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it,” would recite the late, Dr. Arthur M Brazier, former senior pastor of the ACOG. That was the extent of his petition during offering time. He didn’t plead, or engage in persuasive gimmickry. He would simply share that one passage from Malachi 3:10. As a result of his teaching, I began to give a tenth of my income on a consistent basis, which is also known as tithing.
Since Don couldn’t quite ascertain why tithing was necessary, as the household finance manager, I refrained from giving his portion until he was ready. Somewhere between Bishop Brazier’s weekly reciting of Malachi 3:10, my routine compliance and our CPA making it known that an increase in charitable donations would reduce our bottom line, his position changed. We’ve been faithful givers ever since. Don’t confuse that with us loaning or just giving money to people randomly.
We don’t, so please don’t ask!
We give tithes and offering to the church, and to those where we feel led by God. Giving has increased our faith. I have a truckload of examples of what keeps us habitually giving, but allow me to share one.
It hadn’t been but a spell that new tenants had taken residence in one of our rental properties. I had yet to transfer one of the utilities out of my name, so when the bill would come to our address, I’d mail it to them -- usually the same day. Nevertheless, in this instance, that bill stared at me on a daily basis until the month had nearly escaped me. This was so unlike me; I was usually so prompt. Feeling as though I’d put the tenants at a disadvantage to pay the bill by its due date, I felt an internal leading to just pay it. It was as if God had distracted me from sending the bill to them because He intended me to pay it for them.
Are you buying that? Don wasn’t, at first.
I tend to have an open prayer dialog. “God, if you’re leading me to pay their bill, you’ll need to work on Don because I can already hear his resounding, ‘Oh, no we are not,” I prayed.
I began to imagine how Don might respond, “How do you figure that was the Lord speaking? What’d his voice sound like? How do you know it wasn’t the Devil that caused you not to mail their bill?”
Don was at work and I knew it’d be a long conversation so I decided to first deal with our television issue. I had several conversations with the warranty company over a part that was needed to repair the DVD player in our TV/DVD combo unit. Frustrated by the time it was taking for the matter to be resolved, I called yet one more time that morning to check the status.
“Sorry for the delay Mrs. Parker. I’ve verified your claim and a check in the amount of $850.43 has been mailed,” said the agent on the line.
Baffled, I questioned his accuracy. “Are you sure you’ve accessed the correct account? I’ve been waiting for a part, not a check!”
The agent replied. “The TV/DVD combo unit you purchased is now obsolete. You have a full replacement warranty, which obligates us to replace your entire unit if it can’t be fixed. We no longer carry the part, so we’ve issued you a check for the amount you paid.”
I was still confused. “But sir, the TV works fine; it’s only the DVD that’s broken.”
He replied, “You’re free to do with the unit as you please. We aren’t retrieving it, continue using it if you’d like.”
“Whaaaat?” I thought, “Sure will keep using it!”
Now armed with ammo, I made the call to Don. “Babe, let me tell you what God just did,” I said excitedly. “So, He laid it on my heart to pay the tenant’s water bill. I figured you might not want me to do that so, I prayed, ‘God, please reveal a way for Don to know that this is your idea.’ And Babe, you won’t believe this!”
Don was listening, “Hmmm uh. Go on,” he nudged.
With full theatrics, I explained how God had miraculously provided the money for us to bless our tenant. Their bill wasn’t but a third of that refund check, which happened to arrive in the mail that day. We paid their bill, kept the TV and just bought a separate DVD unit. We had $400 left to deposit in the bank. Experiences like this are so plentiful in our lives, I could pen another book on how to sow and reap God's blessings. But, I don't need to. Just believe what it says in Malachi 3:10.
Tithes are funds used to build up the church and further the work of the Lord throughout the world. It’s too overwhelming for me to determine where and to whom to allocate my tithes. God makes it simple: bring your tithes into the storehouse, which is the church. Let them determine where it goes. Don’t get caught up in whether or not they are appropriating the funds according to your preference.
Just give cheerfully!
God’s got all kinds of ways to prosper his people, even the ones with a spouse that has one eyebrow raised!
Claudia Parker is an author, photographer and a reporter. Her columns appear every second and fourth Thursday of each month. She can be reached at AuthorClaudiaParker@yahoo.com.