April 10, 2012

T & T: Trust and Tithing

Yeeesh!  Trust is a huge concept in Christian faith....and yet, so many of us struggle with it.  Why?

Let's start with what trust is.  

According to Dictionary.com trust is:

1.  reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.
2.  confident expectation of something; hope.
3.  confidence in the future payment for property or goods received; credit.
4.  a person on whom or thing on which one relies; God is my trust.
5.  the condition of one to whom something has been entrusted.

Now, I'm just guessing here, but most of us probably start out in life with our trust intact.  Babies don't have much choice but to trust and rely on someone else to take care of them.  Most of the time that works out okay (let's not veer off into the subject of child abuse today) and we make it into childhood still trusting in our world and the people in it.  Then, little by little, we are disappointed.  A parent fails to keep a promise.  We don't get what we want for Christmas.  A friend lies.  Maybe we even have to deal with some real ugliness.  

Combine that with all the public examples we see (everyone just loves to flaunt their dirty laundry these days) of lack of integrity, strength, surety and it's no wonder that life teaches us in pretty quick fashion not to trust or at least to be very careful of whom and what we put our trust in.  If that's not enough, society tells us that it's a dog eat dog world.  Everyone is out for themselves.  Do unto others before they do unto you.

On the other side of the coin is God telling us to trust Him.
  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Prov. 3:5
  • Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.  Isaiah 26:4
  • Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope (remember hope is one definition of trust) in wealth, which so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  1 Tim. 6:17
We're to trust because He is faithful.
  • Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.  Deut. 7:9
  • All your commands are trustworthy (again, trust is relying on or having confidence in so trustworthy means they've stood the test, they can be counted on) Ps 119:86
  • And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.  1 Cor. 10:13
I'll be honest with you.  This is a really hard one for me.  I was raised to be independent and strong along with that good old thinking of "the Lord helps those who help themselves."  Letting go and letting God does not come naturally to this girl.  Sometimes it's my own stubbornness and sometimes it's because I am just not clear on something.

There's not much I can say about the stubbornness and stupidity.  I am working on it.  I read Christian books.  I study the Word.  I ask questions.  I pray.  And I believe I'm getting there.  I'm earnestly trying and I believe that's what counts.

It's the things I don't understand that trip me up.  These days money is a good example.  Our financial situation is not good right now thanks to this lovely economy.  We have more bills than we have money.  It's a combination of the construction industry being hit hard and Tim's hours being reduced along with the rising cost of, well, everything!  We are now in that miserable rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul zone.....and Timothy's closing in on the outside with his hand out yelling for his share, too.

I know the Bible says (in several places) that we are to return to the Lord one-tenth of all He gives us, but right now 10% could literally mean the difference between the lights staying on or going off.  How do I make that choice?  Do I be faithful to God and let my family do without?  Everyone says give to God what is His and He'll take care of the rest.  What if He doesn't?  What if He has some reason not to lift this burden?  What if there is some lesson we (or me) are supposed to learn?  What if the doing without is a test?  What if He wants us broken and poor for some purpose I can't see?  Honestly, in my experience....tithing doesn't mean you will have what you need when you need it.  We were faithful tithers at our old church and still came to a point of having to declare bankruptcy.  That makes it nearly impossible for me to trust on this.

Don't get me wrong.  We still give.  Sometimes it's 10%, sometimes it's not, but we always give.  I'm really torn up about this and praying, but I don't seem to be getting a definitive answer from God.  Some people say it's okay to give of your time and talents as part of your tithe.  I don't think it is....even though both are God-given.

How do you all deal with the whole tithing issue?

5 comments:

Chatty Crone said...

More than once I have had to learn on God's understanding as I couldn't lean on my own. Sometimes we have to trust and obey. sandie

Simone said...

This is an area that I have struggled with too but being married to a pastor, I have relied on his voice in this. I asked him what he thought of tithing and this what what he said. God can pull you out of over spending or the ship can sink to show us where our disobedience was. Living in a country where there is a way out of that (bankruptcy) can be viewed as a chance to start over again. If we look at life as a training ground, we use the years (as being kids) on how to use our bodies, our brains and more. But when we grow we begin to use our spiritual life which means that in any circumstance, we learn how to be obedient, even beyond our discomfort. Christ was obedient even to the cross. If you feel (both you and Tim)a spiritual tug to give 10 percent then you both are putting your faith into practice. It's not easy at all!

Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El/e/Mrs. Seaman) said...

We tithe.

It's tough since we're overextended, but we do tithe.

Stacy said...

Sandie...agreed.

Simone...I should stop by to visit you more. I've totally missed that J is a pastor. I think you hit the nail on the head. When we were tithing and did the bankruptcy, it wasn't a total, get out from under everything, wipe out the debt bankruptcy. No, we did the hard kind. We paid it all back...even got a letter of commendation from the court when we finished because very few people who attempt it complete it. You made me realize that I guess what I'm wishing for is a "rescue" when what I need to focus on is being in God's will...even if I don't like it.

Ellen...I knew that you would. You two set such a great example.

Faith @ Artistic31Mama said...

I believe a tithe should be 10% and God will provide your needs. I have seen too many times in my childhood when God provided for my family in tough situations. My brother's medical insurance coverage ran out because he reached his lifetime maximum (at the age of ten) and my parents were stuck with a HUGE bill. They struggled, but still tithed. In God's timing that debt was completely cleared in full by the hospital. There were numerous other occasions when God provided for their NEEDS and only the amount they needed; no more. When my husband and I decided to get ourselves out of the credit card debt we accumulated from when we were first married we had to make huge monthly payments to accomplish paying off those cards. Our funds were tight and we could barely make the payments. Around Christmas I was pregnant and wondering how we were going to pay for gas to go visit my family. I was at the gas station filling up our van and a woman approached me and told me someone told her to give "this" to someone as a blessing. Before I could see what she placed in my hand or say thank you she walked away. She had given me enough money to pay for all of my gas minus $1. God works in ways we can't even comprehend. That being said...We tithe but it's not the full 10%. My husband and I don't see eye to eye on that. He believes you should tithe off of your profit AFTER your bills (mortgage, utilities, etc). I don't see it that way. As the head of our house and person who manages our finances he takes the lead on that and tithes what he feels God leading him to. I tithe separately from my business.

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