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By Kevin L Cann
(This is not an appeal for money for this ministry. Learn these principles and give wherever the Holy Spirit directs you.)
What are your first memories of money? What a strange question! But to me, it is important because I think your first encounters with money affect your life. It is the beginning of a relationship, like a first date with your spouse or memories of meeting your best friend. And that relationship continues.
Many people have an adversarial relationship with money. They need it, but regard it as a necessary evil or they resent anyone who has more of it than they do. Likewise they may "covet" what others have or look down upon those who have less. An increasing trend is to demonize those who are "wealthy." Friends and family members may talk about personal health and intimate issues, but one thing I have noticed is that people clam up when it comes to discussion of their "money."
Put God First
My earliest memory of money and giving is around the age of 5-6 years. At that point in my childhood, my parents began to give me an allowance of $1.00 per week. Although I do not remember what I spent the money on, I do remember my Dad patiently explaining that although the whole dollar was in my hand, 10 cents belonged to God. As I remember, I received my "allowance" on Saturday evening so that I had the opportunity to give my 10 cents to God in the offering the very next morning at church. In this manner, I was trained not only to "give," but also to acknowledge God as the giver of all and my partner in life.
Perhaps as a child I may have thought it unfair that I couldn't have that 10 cents for myself, but I don't remember feeling that way. It just seemed important and "grownup" that I as a child could share something with God that would help Him in His purposes.
What an immense blessing to be raised by parents that took the time to teach me, instruct me and develop a pattern of giving to God that has continued throughout my life. Only by cheerfully giving 10 cents and keeping 90 cents was I able to eventually give much larger amounts. 10 cents seems small and insignificant, but it was 10%. When I got my first job, 10% became giving God $25.00 a month. That seemed like a lot, but I still don't recall resenting giving to God because He was the one who enabled me to get the job!
"But you were so blessed! I was not raised that way." You say, "I am in such a financial situation that I couldn't possibly give 10%."
Here is what I tell people. START WHERE YOU ARE! Tell God that you want to honor Him and give. Set 10% as your ultimate GOAL. Then decide how much extra you can believe God to provide for you so you can give this week or month. "God, I want to honor you with giving of the firstfruits of my increase. I desire to give and ask You to provide something extra so that I can begin giving. I dedicate it to You to give where You instruct me. I enter into partnership with You. I will do my part and You will provide for me."
"When you make up your mind to give, God will Provide"
"Honor the Lord with your capital and sufficiency [from righteous labors] and with the firstfruits of all your income; So shall your storage places be filled with plenty, and your vats shall be overflowing with new wine." (Proverbs 3:9-10 AMPC)
I Need a Raise!
When I started working at my first full time job as a bookkeeper, it was a challenge and I enjoyed it, but eventually it seemed that my earnings were not keeping up with the work I was providing. Still in my teens, I asked my Dad about getting a raise. How do you do that? What do you say?
What do you expect Charles Capps to say? First, he told me that ultimately God was really my boss and I should ask God for the raise. Then, he told me to sow the seed for the raise I wanted. Start tithing as if you already were receiving the new increased salary. Immediately my mind began to give me trouble over that. How could I tithe on something I had not received yet? Oh, yeah, I get it... tithe in faith. Call those things that are not as though they already are!
So I thanked God that I received that raise and rejoiced in it. Then I figured out how to cut a few things so that I could tithe on the bigger salary. Every time I wrote that tithe check, I rejoiced for that raise. In a fairly short time, I received that raise on paper – a bigger check.
Give What You Have
God opened the door for my sister and I to own a women's clothing store. Running a business was different than working for someone else. Now, I am responsible for paying employees and bills. I faithfully paid the bills on time, paid the employees, paid the loans and there was very little left over for me and I was living on less than when I had a job.
Again, I asked Dad how to increase my salary. He reminded me that God was still my boss and provider and I should ask Him. He suggested that since there were no extra funds, I should begin to give away clothing. (We had abundance of clothing, but not cash.) So I began to bless women ministers and minister's wives with beautiful clothing. By giving this clothing, God opened the windows of heaven, not only in financial blessing, but in friendships and getting to know some extraordinary people who I would associate with later in ministry. It still amazes me when I hear reports of the women whose lives were so blessed by those clothes!
What do you have to give? There is some way you can be a blessing to others. Such as you have, whatever talent or possession, can be used to further the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ on Earth.
Then he told me something that shocked me. He said, "Always pay God first (tithe) and yourself second." I had always paid the employees first (because the laborer is worthy of their hire), bills second and me last. How can I pay myself and let other things not be paid? So, in faith, I made out the check to myself first, then the employee checks, then the bills. I did not cash my check, but I honored myself by paying me first. When the checks had cleared I had enough money to cash my check! It is important to get your priorities in order.
A Giving Heart
Would you be willing to ask God to give you a generous heart? It is totally up to you whether to be a giver or not. Personally, I have had great joy in being both a tither and a giver. I have been blessed abundantly and over my lifetime have seen the results of sowing and reaping. However... even if I had not received a harvest, the spiritual blessing of being a giver and a partner with God is enough.
"Take from among you an offering to the Lord. Whoever is of a willing and generous heart, let him bring the Lord's offering..." (Exodus 35:5 AMPC)
"The Israelites brought a freewill offering to the Lord, all men and women whose hearts made them willing and moved them to bring anything for any of the work which the Lord had commanded by Moses to be done." (Exodus 35:29 AMPC)
Sometimes tithing is taught in a very legalistic manner. Fortunately, my parents never taught me that God was demanding that I pay Him or I could not be considered a Christian unless I tithed. You can choose to tithe and/or be a giver or not and still go to heaven. God is not demanding anything of you. To tithe or give is your act of honoring God and the principle of giving.
"Giving creates a void that the blessings of God rush in to fill. It is Spiritual truth!"
Have you ever received a gift? Was it given willingly? When someone says, "You mean so much to me and I want to give you this." Then it is a blessing to receive a gift given from a heart of love and appreciation! But what if someone came up to you and said, "I don't want you to have this, but I feel forced to do so," how would you feel about that? That's not really a gift. It's an obligation. Not much joy in that is there?
Do you think God wants you to give Him something out of obligation and drudgery or out of a willing, giving, loving heart? If you don't have that willingness, you can ask God to create within you a willing heart. Don't miss out on the joy of giving! Giving of anything opens the door for more giving and receiving. It's not only about money, it's about a giving heart.
Consistent giving keeps your heart exercised to give. It becomes a part of your life, even a way of life. That doesn't mean that you won't occasionally be challenged by your old selfish nature.
My Old Nature Wanted to Withhold
Even after years of giving and receiving the blessings of God, we can still occasionally have the old nature of the flesh rebel and rise up.
After years of giving and seeing the blessings of God, I sold a piece of vacant land that had increased in value tremendously. Ten percent of the increase (sale price – what I paid = increase) was a very large sum of money. Strange, how after all the years God had blessed me that my mind started arguing with me. This is SO MUCH MONEY! Surely, I don't have to give 10%, maybe I could do something else. Maybe there is a different way to look at this. Maybe tithing and giving isn't for today, it's just under the old covenant...
Seriously!!!??? God is my partner. He led me to buy the land. He gave the increase! Now, am I going to mess myself up by not acknowledging Him? Will I violate the principle of giving and receiving and continue to prosper? I not only got willing really fast, but I wrote the check before the devil or my mind could continue to argue with me. (The old nature/flesh can be selfish and withholding.)
The point of this is not that God would be angry or that He would allow something bad to happen to me because I kept ALL of the increase. Something bad was already happening... I was divorcing myself from the giver within and creating an unbalanced relationship in my partnership with God. This was the wrong road. It would lead me to justifying my actions based on fear and not the faith I have in my relationship with God. I was wanting to withhold and in doing so, I would be pulling away from my partnership with God. He has never failed me or withheld from me, why should I do that to Him? We have history... He has been faithful and merciful. And I have attempted to follow His leading and obey His Word.
"If you wait until you have enough, you will never give!"
Proverbs 11:24 says, "There are those who [generously] scatter abroad, and yet increase more; there are those who withhold more than is fitting or what is justly due, but it results only in want." I have no doubt that if I had started withholding it would have led to more withholding and the principle of lack would have started operating in my life. When lack begins to manifest then you begin to think you can't give anything. After all, how can you give if you don't have anything extra to give? So you get on the merry-go-round of only giving when you think you have enough to give. And you think you never have enough so you don't give and your lack multiplies! The more you don't give, the less you have to give.
What's Fair About a Tenth?
I am fully aware that people have strong feelings about "tithing" or giving a tenth, but what is fair and equitable about a tenth is that if you have little or much, it is the same proportion.
Let's look at Malachi 3:10, "Bring all the tithes (the whole tenth of your income) into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now by it, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
And I will rebuke the devourer [insects and plagues] for your sakes and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground, neither shall your vine drop its fruit before the time in the field, says the Lord of hosts." (Malachi 3:10-11 AMPC)
Tithing and giving are both spiritual opportunities. If you have not tithed, there is no condemnation or guilt. (Romans 8:1) I just wanted to share with you the valuable spiritual principles that are a part of my life.