That was the question Brian put to me, Joseph Galloway about tithing while driving around Minnesota between back-to-back weekend retreats. I am privileged to be on the board of Broken Door Ministries. You may recognize me as the author of The Broken Door. I wrote it in support of Brian’s ministry, essentially telling his story. If I may say so, one of the best comments about the book on an Amazon review is that it is The Shack on steroids.
While in Minnesota, we visited the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis. I spent some time there off alone, praying in an alcove, pouring out my heart about what to do now with my life. I’ve been going through a difficult period of brokenness due to my wife’s passing away last year. I just wanted to quit everything! My prayer was essentially, “Tell me what you want me to do.”
Within minutes I heard, audibly, “Take It’s Not Your Money national.” (It’s Not Your Money is my website and radio-spot ministry about financial stewardship).
Brian was across the building, and no one else was there. Where and from whom did that message come? I told Brian of the experience. Of course as is often the case with Brian, that sparked a lively and thought provoking conversation over the next few days.
₪ “I’ve been on the Finance Committee; I’ve seen what people give. I give more than most.” – It’s not a contest
₪ “10% of What? AGI or net? Include asset sales? Include tax refunds?”- All pretty Pharisaic
₪ “I pay a lot in taxes. So much of that goes to welfare.”- Render unto Caesar
Brian suggested that there must be a catalyst, some trigger that moves us to tithe. We considered a few:
- Bargaining with God: “God, if you do _____, then I’ll give $X.”
- Prosperity Gospel: “If I give $X, God will bless me with _____.”
- Guilt: “Bible says I must give 10%. Pastor says I’ll go to hell if I don’t.”
- Pride: “Look at how much I give. That’s more than most at ____ Parish.”
- Gratitude: “I’ve been blessed. In grateful response I’ll give $X.”
I’m sure you can come up with more. But, what was the catalyst for me? What made me tithe? As I pondered that over the ensuing weeks, I remembered that there was a catalyst. It was a friend speaking at Mass one Sunday. He said he and his wife decided they were going to start tithing 10 percent. Period. It didn’t add up, but they were going to be like Nike and ‘just do it’ and trust that God would provide.
That was a gut punch. I knew the church teaching. I knew the Bible verses about giving 10 percent. I knew I should be giving 10 percent. Why don’t I do what I know I should do?
At that time I had one kid in braces, and two more sets to go. My in-laws were dependent on me financially, and we were a one-income household. How was I supposed to cover my bills, save for college, and hopefully retire some day? The math didn’t work.
It is a matter of faith. God’s calculus is higher math than my algebra.
That testimony really struck me. If my friend was willing to try tithing, shouldn’t I? Did I believe the Bible passages, or not? Matthew 6: 24-34 tells us we cannot serve God and mammon. Jesus then goes on the say “don’t worry” four times. Did I trust God’s promises to provide or not?
Lent is the season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. What will be your catalyst for giving alms? What will help you step out in faith and tithe?
I would love to hear your stewardship story. How is God working in your life? What joy have you experienced in giving?
Blessings to you and your family this Lent, Easter, and throughout all the year.