Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Douglas Leblanc's new book, Tithing: Test Me in This, (Thomas Nelson, 2009).
When you give to God through tithing, He gives you something greater in return: a life changed for the better. Opening up your wallet to tithe opens up your soul to trust God more and invites Him to work powerfully in your life.
Here's how tithing can transform you:
It reminds you that your life is not your own. Spending your money just on your own plans robs you of valuable opportunities to help fulfill God's purposes for your life. God is counting on you to do your part to support His work on Earth by regularly and generously giving the money He has empowered you to earn. When you answer God's call to tithe, your life becomes a significant instrument God works through to change the world for the better.
It helps you become more like Jesus. One of Jesus' characteristics is His generosity. He gave the ultimate gift by dying on the Cross to pay for humanity's sins and making salvation possible. Tithing is to your soul what working out at a gym is to your body. The more you exercise your generosity "muscle," the stronger it becomes, helping you grow into a stronger person - one who reflects Jesus' likeness. Since the essence of God and His Son is to constantly give to others, you discover more about the image of God within you when you give of yourself through tithing.
It reveals the ways that God is providing for you. When you show God that you have the faith to tithe regardless of your circumstances, He'll show you that your faith in Him to provide for your needs is valid. Simply storing up your money for yourself will cause you to focus just on the money. But tithing will shift your focus to God, and help you notice the specific ways that God gives you what you need right when you need it. You'll learn that you can count on God at all times and in all situations.
It widens your perspective on the world. Tithing draws your attention to the fact that many people in the world aren't nearly as affluent as you. More than one billion people live in severe poverty and need help from Christians who can afford to reach out. When you tithe, you rise above the small-mindedness of consumerism and come to understand the significance of contributing to make the world a better place. You come to feel grateful for your blessings, and motivated to express your gratitude by sharing your blessings with others.
It changes your values. The more you invest your money in what matters to God, the more you'll start to value that yourself. You won't be as motivated to spend money in frivolous ways as you were before. Instead, you'll want to use your money to make a significant, positive impact on the world. God's purposes will become your top priorities.
It helps you trust God in deeper ways. When you make your financial resources freely available to God, you invite God to work through every part of your life. You learn to stop holding back in your relationship with Him, and to start serving Him wholeheartedly. You learn to step outside of your comfort zones and take the risks that will lead to greater faith. If you're not trusting God with your money, ask yourself how much you're really trusting Him with something far greater - your eternal salvation. Recognize that greed is a form of idolatry, reflecting a choice to worship yourself rather than God on some levels. Tithing can free you from greed's grip on your life and help you trust God fully in every aspect of your life.
It deepens the bonds between you, God, and others in your church community. As you and your fellow church members express your faith in God through tithing, you'll grow closer to Him together. The ongoing journey of your shared spiritual growth will deepen your connections while you hold each other accountable and encourage each other.
It teaches you the importance of sharing your time and talents, too. When you regularly give money to God, you'll naturally think of other ways you can give. Sharing your time and talents with others however God leads you to do so is just as vital as sharing your money to support His kingdom work.
Adapted from Tithing: Test Me in This, copyright 2009 by Douglas Leblanc. Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tn., www.thomasnelson.com.
Douglas Leblanc has been religion editor of The Advocate in Baton Rouge and editor for Christianity Today, Compassion International, and Anglicans United. He and his wife attend Saint Matthew's Episcopal Church in Richmond, VA.
Original publication date: September 30, 2009