Seventeen years ago Sue and I left the security of a full time wage for the white knuckle excitement of full time bible college and a student allowance. Our income was $12,000pa plus government parenting and family payments. We were blessed with two young children, Joel (3) and Emily (1), a mortgage ($135,000 – amazing I can still remember the amount) and a very unreliable car (Holden Camira). We had been married eight years, and had never felt the need to have a budget. Until now.
I describe myself as a ‘recovering accountant’, which means I knew enough to be stressing heading into college broke with a young family and a mortgage. When Sue and I sat down to do our budget (excruciating), we had to make some big decisions, the first of which was what would we give to our church. Easy – we were cash strapped and living below the official poverty line – we should give what we could, what was leftover, if anything. Besides, we were giving our lives to God in service – God would understand! But as well as a recovering accountant I was also a rookie bible student, and I knew that God did not want our leftovers, he longed for us to worship him with our first and our best. So, with some fear and trepidation, that is what we did with our money for the first time in our married life. Every fortnight when income would come in, we gave God a tithe (10%) of everything – student allowances, government payments –the lot. Did we get rich materially? No – God is not some get rich quick, Ponzi scheme. But we did discover new riches in Christ as we learned to trust more in him rather than our relative wealth. And yes, through those three wonderful years in college, God provided more than we could have asked for or imagined, including materially.
Every time God blesses us with income, whether a wage, salary, allowance, dividend or return –we have choices. Will we return to God what in the end belongs to him – a tithe (10%)? Will we dismiss God with our leftovers? Or will we honor God with our first and our best? I pray you join Sue and me in the liberating joy of the latter!