Dear Pastor Dudley:
Your sermon last week on tithing hit home. My own personal experience is a life testimony that goes beyond finances.
My parents were Christians and Dad was dedicated to tithing and giving additional offerings according to church needs. Our family didn’t have a lot but got along just fine.
Despite Christian teachings at home, I turned from God at 14. My brother and I criticized my Dad for “putting God ahead of the family and giving away so much money.” Dad was quite hurt but unbowed in his obedience to the Lord.
Twelve years later in 1988 I was saved. As a baby Christian, I heard a sermon on tithing and something inside me clicked. I was making $21,100 per year and had credit card debt from college and purchasing suits needed for my job in sales. I was driving a 73 Chevy Impala that was on its last legs. Nonetheless, I took a step of faith and began tithing.
God’s blessings began to flow on me. I got a new job that paid a little more. People around me got fired or laid off but I kept my head down, worked hard and kept my job. I also kept tithing despite my debt.
A year later, two things happened. First, the 73 Impala broke down one day in the middle of the 5 Freeway during rush hour on the way to work. Simultaneously the company gave me a raise that after taxes was EXACTLY the monthly payment on a new Ford Escort - a small car that was good on gas. I praised the Lord and bought the car.
I didn’t know it at the time but this was a blessing that probably spared me from major injuries or saved my life. Just months later, I had a terrible accident that totaled the new car. If I had the crash in the Impala, which was not designed for safety and did not have up-to-standard seatbelts, I would have certainly been thrown against or through the windshield. Instead, I walked away from the accident and insurance replaced the car.
At that time, the Lord put on my heart that tithing was not enough. I started joyously giving to World Vision, Focus on the Family and Insight for Living. I didn’t have a lot and was still in debt, but there was an ache in my heart to give.
I could go on and on about blessings in my work and life that I believe are the result of being obedient to the Lord in tithing. However, one really stands out.
In 1996, my Dad got terminal cancer at the age of 61. He was told he had only 3 months left and it would be an agonizing process. Just 3 days later, however, he died peacefully at home in his sleep. In Malachi, God promises to open the floodgates of heaven. I am fully convicted that the Lord honored Dad’s obedience and tithing in opening the floodgates of mercy so he would not have to endure a slow death.
At Dad’s funeral an elder disclosed something I never knew. When the pastor’s father died unexpectedly, the pastor was going to the funeral alone because he could not afford the plane tickets for his wife and 3 children. The elder said Dad very quietly bought the family plane tickets to avoid any embarrassment for the pastor. The elder said Dad did as the Bible instructs, “…do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”
I could have never imagined Dad’s heart for tithing and giving would have passed to me but it has. I am fully dedicated to being God’s resource in this area and am consistently amazed how much I have been able to give God in abundance and sacrificially!
In your sermon, you mentioned things that I have personally experienced including adversity and prosperity. I went from finally having no debt in 1997 to being divorced in 1999 and back in debt in 2001. It’s been a bumpy trip and some things were due to my own bad decisions but I have always turned to the Lord and never stopped tithing.
In return, He kept blessing me in many ways. Today I have no debt, a good career and best of all I have been married nearly 5 years to a wife who LOVES the Lord and we have a beautiful daughter when it once appeared we might not have children.
Pastor, I have written this to encourage you to keep preaching about tithing as part of Christian obedience. When you do this, you are not talking about money, you are simply following Jesus Christ’s final instruction in The Great Commission in Matthew 28:20 “… and teach them to OBEY everything I have commanded you…”