A dollar. A whole dollar. All to myself. Wow!
An allowance my father told me. I was just beyond kindergarten and, as he explained, he and Momma wanted me to have some money of my own. This was the first time they’d be giving me a weekly allowance.
The fact that he gave me a whole dollar—which seemed like a lot of money for a little kid in the mid-seventies—wasn’t the most memorable part, however. It was what he did next.
I’m standing there in near unbelief, dollar bill alight in my hand, when he asked me a profound question.
“Would you like some change for that?”
I’m thinking of the nearby convenience store, candy, and baseball cards. I knew I’d get change with purchases. But he had my curiosity.
“What for, Dad?”
And, then, the lesson—the lesson I need to ask if he intended or if it just happened in the moment.
“So you can tithe.”
I’d been to church. I’d heard the preacher. I’d heard my folks too. I could recall the scriptural phrases. “Don’t rob God. Bring the whole tithe into the the storehouse. Test me in this and see.” Tithing, giving 10% or your income back to God through your church, wasn’t a new concept to me. But, now it was my money. Now I had to decide.
Doing a quick calculation of convenience store goodies versus obeying what I’d heard from the Bible, and, frankly, thinking, “it’s only ten cents,” I replied, “Sure, Dad.” He traded my one dollar bill for an equal assortment of quarters, dimes, and nickels. There was no instruction as to how much to give the church; he left that up to me.
And so it began, a near life-long habit of giving to support God’s work through my local church out of obedience to Scripture with faith in God the Father. You noted that I said, “near life-long habit,” right? Sure enough, I’m not perfect. Sure enough, there have been times when I kept 100% of my income and treated it as my own. As a single, young adult I’d even spent more than 100% of my income aided by credit cards to fulfill my desire for a lifestyle I couldn’t afford.
When I came to my senses horrified by my indebtedness at the ripe age of twenty-six, my mind tumbled two decades prior to my Father’s lesson. His simple principle. All the Scripture I knew. It all came back to me. And though I wasn’t sure how I’d pay all my bills if I first paid my tithe, I acted in faith. I obeyed. I tithed. First. Ten percent or more.
It was scary as I restarted that habit as an indebted adult. But then it was exciting. What would God do to provide? Where would money come from? How could I manage on less money than I’d been spending before?
I never missed a payment. I was never late on a payment. God provided. One day at a time. One check at a time. One decision at a time. He was faithful just as His Word had said.
Tithing as a six year old was—let’s be honest—easy. I knew my dad would take care of me; my folks provided everything for me. But—still being honest here—why should tithing as an adult be any different?
Doesn’t my Father—my Heavenly Father, God—still provide everything for me?
It’s still all His money. And with that perspective both tithing and giving are a joy. There is joy in giving back to God through tithing; I'm recognizing how He provides for me. And there is further joy in giving to meet the needs of others; I'm experiencing joy like Him. Joy, indeed!
It is my Father’s dollar.
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