During the great depression, the average American only gave away (donation) 3.3% of their income. Pretty low, right?

Not really, when you consider only 80% Americans today give away at least 2.5% of their income. Process what you just read for a moment; individuals living during the great depression were more generous than those living right now. 

Statistically only 10-25% of active, church attending Christians tithe 10% of their income to their local church. The next time you attend church, take a look down the row you’re sitting in; only 1, maybe two people sitting in the row tithe.

In 15 years of pastoral ministry I’ve never met anyone who didn’t tithe because they had a disdain for generosity, the reason for not tithing is rarely about desire; it’s always about math. Very few people argue the Bible teaches tithing, hardly anyone argues their life would experience more blessing by giving more, but the ability to execute and give away 10% of your income escapes 80% of people who claim to love God and His church. If Jesus meant what he said in Matthew 6:21, that where our treasure is, there are heart will also be, that’s a reason for concern.

How can someone who is in debt, and obligated to so many bills find an extra 10% to give away?

That question reminds me of a story in the Old Testament rarely discussed alongside the issue of generosity, but it should be. In 1 Kings 18, the nation of Israel is in the 3rd year of a severe drought, and when Elijah approaches King Ahab with news from God, a showdown ensues with the prophets of Baal. The rules of the contest were simple, whoever could convince their God to show off on Mt. Carmel, while the all the people watched would win, and their God would become the national religion. The prophets of Baal went first, and after their attempts had failed, Elijah called the people around. He built an altar and dug a trench, and then instructed the people to fill four containers with water. Normally this would be a simple request. Elijah was only asking for the equivalent of 1 gallon of water, but remember the people had been in a drought for three years. What kind of prophet asks thirsty people to give their water during a drought? The people agree, and after pooling their water together from their coolers and flasks, they collect enough water to fill the containers. Elijah dumped it on a pile of wood then had the audacity to ask the people for water again. Amazingly, they collected enough water to fill up the containers a second time, and again Elijah dumped it out. Finally, a 3rd time, he instructed the people to fill the containers with water. The people gathered everything they had left and filled the containers one final time, only to have it dumped out again.

Sometimes, because stories are in the Bible, they have an air of magic about them. We read, assuming the people involved don’t experience the same emotions you and I feel, but they did. They struggled with doubt, fear, anxiety, and temptation just like you and me, so it’s not a stretch to assume the people watching Elijah pour their last servings of water on the ground a third time made them angry and fearful. God has a way of forcing you to give up the thing most precious to you to prove what’s most precious to us. You will always be able to think of a better use for your money than giving it away, but God’s command to give has never been about practicality it’s always been about possibility. Do you trust God can do more with what’s left over after you give than what you could hold on to for yourself?

After Elijah had everything in place, God showed up, and he showed out. He sent fire from heaven leaving no doubt who the one true God was.

After the supernatural fireworks show, Elijah made an interesting statement to Ahab,

1 Kings 18:41
Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go get something to eat and drink, for I hear a mighty rainstorm coming!”

God was about to make it rain, but the people had to pour out the water that remained before the clouds would move. That’s what He does. He makes us make the first move.

Truett Cathy, the creator and founder of Chickfila loved cars, and he loved giving away cars. A devout Christian, he met a young man in his church who needed a car but needed discipleship even more. In an attempt to disciple the man, they agreed to listen to preaching tapes Cathy owned and would review them, seeing what God might want to teach them. On the last of the tapes, Cathy recorded over the preacher and told the man he could come pick up the keys to his new car at his office. After a few days, the man hadn’t shown up, so Cathy reminded him to listen to the tapes, two weeks later still he hadn’t shown. Finally, after two months it was obvious the man had no intention of listening to the tapes, so Cathy called him into his office and played the last tape for him. He didn’t give the young man the car, saying it was one of the toughest lessons he ever taught, to receive a blessing we often have to take action first.

God loves to make it rain. He did in 1 Kings 18, and he promises to do it again in Malachi 3:10

Malachi 3:10
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in!

When you tithe, even in a drought, God makes it rain, but He won’t send the rain until you empty your water cooler. Would you rather have a water cooler or a rainstorm?

There are those who don’t give, but love to debate. They will argue tithing is outdated and not required by God, I agree. It’s not required, God’s blessings are always “if/then” propositions.

God doesn’t need anything from you, he wants something for you.

The truth is, the Bible is filled with stories and teaching about tithing, even Jesus in Matthew 23:23, while talking to men who loved to find loopholes, told us we should tithe.

Matthew 23:23
You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.

I don’t know about you, but I would rather have a rainstorm than hold on to my Big Gulp. I’ve learned by now God’s way always works, and my way usually hurts. I’m not belittling the challenges you are currently facing, they are real and the anxiety that fills your heart when you consider giving 10% of your income to God not having enough as it is, is real too, but God’s best blessings are always on the other side of the most demanding obedience.

There are no gimmicks when it comes to tithing, but there are strings attached, and the good news is God is pulling the strings. My prayer for you is that you trust Him first in every area of your life, especially your money. When you do, you better put on a raincoat, cause it’s going to storm.

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