It was many decades years ago when a change came over my life that has had a lasting effect for all these years. I became a tither!
I grew up in a Christian home during Depression years. Even in hard times, my folks gave $1.00 a Sunday. As I went on my own, I was determined to do as well as they did. In 1948 I came to Kansas City to work for a consulting engineering firm for $1.75 an hour. The man sitting behind me was a tracer, the lower level in an engineering firm, and he probably earned 75 cents an hour.
He was a very religious member of the Assembly of God. He knew that I was also a strong Christian and at times we would discuss religion. One day he mentioned that he was a tither. I thought, “How can he tithe on his pay? He has a wife and two children.” It burned on my conscience for about a week and finally I said, “If he can tithe, I can too.”
I have tithed ever since and it has been one of the greatest blessings of my life.
Although there were always places that the money could go, I never felt that I did not have enough for me and my family. I also felt the need to tell others of my tithing experience. Why am I a tither?
In the first chapter of Genesis, God looks at all He has made, pronounces it good, and turns it over to humankind for its use. I am to use and enjoy fully all these good gifts from God. These gifts are best described in Luther’s explanation of the first article of the Creed in the Small Catechism: “I believe that God has created me and all that exists; that He has given and still preserves to me my body and soul with all my limbs and senses, my reason and all the faculties of my mind, together with my raiment, food, home, family, and all my property; that He daily provides me abundantly with all the necessaries of life, protects me from all danger, and preserves me and guards me against all evil; all which He does out of pure, paternal, and divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me; for all which I am in duty bound to thank, praise, serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true.”
What gifts! Can I do less than respond with thanks for His many gifts?
Some people think of a tithe as legalistic. For me, a tithe is only the beginning of giving. A tithe is not an amount, but rather a dedication and a commitment to give of our first fruits.
You recall that both Cain and Abel offered gifts to God, but only Abel’s was acceptable since it was of his first fruits and his best. May each of us recognize God’s many gifts and respond with thanks.
A tithe is a good beginning.
© Copyright 1997, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
This essay first appeared in the Spring 1997 issue of Faith in Action. Articles in Faith in Action may be reproduced for use in ELCA and ELCIC congregations provided each copy carries the note: “© Copyright 1997, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Reprinted with permission.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an article from the archives of the Lutheran Laity Movement for Stewardship. For nearly a century, LLM assisted, inspired and trained congregations in important ways. LLM ceased operations on May 31, 2003, but the Stewardship of Life Institute is proud to continue its work by making its web resources available to a new generation of stewards.