For Love of God—or Money?
- Thursday, October 06, 2011
Charles has done it privately for years, and he admits it hasn’t been easy.
“Of course, the more I make and the more I tithe does cause more temptation to have wrong thoughts about it. The down side to my way of thinking is that it’s hard to buy luxuries for myself, or use funds for entertainment, without feeling guilt.”
Speaking of how much money he makes, how much is it? Charles, an IT manager, says it’s around $115,000, which he realizes tops what many two-income families earn. But he insists the generous tithe principle applies regardless of salary.
“I started out making $19,000 per year in my first job,” Charles explains. “I still gave 25 percent. The amount of income I make doesn’t factor into the percentage I give, due to the vow I made. This would not change if I were to get married.”
So, it can be done. It’s not so much how much you make, but the percentage at which you want to return what’s already God’s back to him and his work.
“I view money as a tool,” Charles says with all the candor of a Wall Street tycoon, but without the hubris. “In God’s wisdom, he has designed society to work this way. Money in itself is neither good nor bad. Mankind, in his depraved state, perverts the use of money through greed and oppression.”
Now he starts preaching!
“God’s people have a charge to redeem the use of and attitude toward money. How the church deals with finances—especially as it relates to our care of each another—can be a very strong testimony to the unbelieving world. This is true as a corporate body and individually. I think it all starts with realizing who we are, and who he is, and what he has done for us.”
A Vow for Rich and Poor
It’s been his appreciation of God’s gift of grace that’s propelled Charles to commit so extraordinarily to tithing. And yes, this means that even though Charles has a nice paycheck, and he can tithe at 30 percent without compromising a confident lifestyle, he’s still pretty frugal.
“I believe God’s people should avoid excess and extremes, and live in moderation,” he professes, although he understands that “moderation” is a relative term.
“The Lord entrusts different things to different people. Simply having food to eat, clothes to wear, and shelter, is sufficient. But I don’t believe Scripture teaches us that we’re sinning if we have more than the bare essentials of life. If God blesses one with riches, I would expect that person’s lifestyle would be far different from the one he blesses with only enough to scrape by. What is required is that in either case, what one has should be used to the honor and glory of God.”
Not that Charles wants us to think he’s holier than we are. Instead, isn’t visiting the principles by which he manages his finances helpful for the rest of us? After all, his lifestyle isn’t anything not taught in Scripture, so it’s nothing new.
Neither is the allure to deviate from his tithing vow.
“The temptation towards materialism is always present. The more stuff I acquire, the more I find it acquires me,” confesses Charles. “That said, the real test is when God takes away the luxuries, comforts, and accumulated things. At that point I will find out if I am materialistic or not; if I will praise God . . . and be thankful, or turn bitter. Trial by fire can refine or destroy. But by the grace of God, I know when the time comes the Holy Spirit will cause me to stand.”
After all, we’ll have eternity to enjoy what we’ll never acquire on earth.
“All belongs to God,” he maintains. “So, while the first fruits go to him right off the top, it is an incorrect attitude to assume that the remainder is mine to do with as I please.
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