When we were first married, we approached giving to the Lord with our church tithe by looking to see what money was left over in our very tight newlywed budget. Walt was in medical school, I was teaching middle school, and there just weren’t any extra dollars left to give.
We understood that God owned everything and that we couldn’t “outgive” Him, but that’s where our understanding stopped. Sure, we had heard the stories of how God stretched budgets, but since our budget was so lean, we assumed that there was not anywhere for Him to stretch it! We had a lot to learn about giving.
God wants what’s first, not what’s left
As we discovered more about God’s character and His Word, we realized that He did not desire our “leftovers”; He wanted the first, fresh part of our whole beings—our time, talent, and treasure. This included even our meager income of $500 a month. We realized that we are stewards of everything He gives us. Those resources are not ours to squander or keep to ourselves, but they were given to us to be shared with our Father in heaven, His church, and His people.
After Walt graduated and our monthly budget tripled, we were thunderstruck to learn that God was not going to give us more income to increase our standard of living. Instead, God trusted us with additional resources so we might increase our standard of giving! So, in our last four decades of marriage, we’ve worked together to increase the percent of our income that we give away each year.
Responding to His call
Now, our best practice is to give so that others may know Jesus. We have many opportunities to give, but we evaluate each need presented and ask, “Will this particular ministry help people come into or deepen a personal relationship with Jesus?”
If the answer is yes, Walt and I individually pray and then write down an amount the Lord has put on each of our hearts. Sometimes the amount He calls us to give is shocking. But more often than not, our numbers match, confirming what we are to give. It’s just one more way God proves His generous love to us as we respond to His call to give.