How Tithing is Teaching me to Trust God
At the beginning of each new year, I, like many of my friends, choose a Word of the Year. Essentially, it’s word or phrase intended to capture a vision for the year ahead – what I want to focus on or where I feel called to grow.
Toward the end of 2019, I started asking God about what He wanted my Word of the Year to be for 2020. It wasn’t long before He gave me a clear answer:
I happened to be at a Catholic conference on New Years’ Day, and as I was sitting in one of the massive conference halls, staring up at the ceiling while I was waiting for a talk to start, an adorable nun, a Sister of Life, walked over and handed me a prayer card – the Litany of Trust. Loud and clear, God!
If there’s ever been a year in which we could all use a little extra trust in God, 2020 has got to be it. Uncertainty, insecurity, and scarcity abound. What obvious opportunities the Lord is giving us to trust Him!
As I’ve navigated through the murky waters of this year, I’ve made a good effort to trust God with the circumstances outside of my control. But there’s always been one area of my life that has been especially difficult for me to hand over to Him.
That area is money.
Growing up, my family was financially blessed enough to have all of our basic needs covered – I never had to wonder where my next meal would come from, and even though many of my clothes were hand-me-downs from my older sister, I still had clothes.
Even so, as a child I was aware that money was often tight for my family. A “money doesn’t grow on trees” mentality was instilled in me at a very young age, and from the time I started getting a $5 weekly allowance, I was putting all of it in savings.
In high school, I got my first part-time job working at In N’ Out Burger because I wanted to save enough money to buy a car. My parents let me know that if I wanted it, I was going to have to work for it. For the next two years, my nights and weekends were spent taking orders in the drive-thru.
I’m grateful to my parents for teaching me the value of hard work. It’s what made me into the independent, goal-oriented adult I am today.
But because money was an evident stress on my family as I was growing up, a scarcity mentality around finances also followed me into adulthood.
For the past few years, I’ve known that tithing is a good thing to do and that the Church asks me to do it, but every time I’ve been offered an opportunity to give money away to a good cause, the same mental objections have sprung up and stopped me in my tracks:
What if you don’t have enough money to do the things you want to do this month?
You need that money for your social life!
And the loudest:
You should be saving that money!
Usually, that last objection would win. But taking a good look at them now, I’m aware of an unsettling truth – each of these objections is dripping with fear – the fear of not having enough.
I think the natural human response to insecurity and uncertainty is to cling to the things we can control. Our instincts tell us to look out for number one and to protect what’s ours at all cost.
But when we look to Jesus, that’s not what we see at all.
We see a man healing the sick and feeding five thousand people immediately after learning of his dear friend John the Baptist’s death. We see a man giving his entire self to us in utter torment on the cross.
Jesus shows us that true love costs something. It requires sacrifice, and, in its most perfect form, death. He holds nothing back. He gives us everything.
And, if we are to resemble Jesus, our response should be nothing short of everything.
He wants more from us than an hour of our time on Sundays. He wants us to trust Him with every aspect of our lives – our fears, our hopes, our relationships, our careers, our families, and yes – our money.
There is nothing you or I could possibly do to earn the sacrifice God made for us on that cross. But the work of the Christian life is to conform our hearts to be like His – giving without hesitation. The Church asks us to tithe ten percent of our income. Another way of saying this: the Church invites us to share in a tiny percent of Jesus’s suffering – to give until it hurts a little.
When the fear of not having enough money prevents me from giving to those in need, I’m effectively telling God I don’t trust Him. That He’s not enough for me. That this sacrifice is too much.
If you have Jesus, you have enough. Do you really believe that? If so, I invite you to put your money where your mouth is 😉
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Erica lives in San Diego, California with her four pet chickens. She’s a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and is the Owner of Seedling Site Shop, a website design & copywriting resource for purpose-driven brands. When she’s not writing, she’s likely playing in the waves at the beach, cooking vegan recipes, taking a spin class, or watching great movies.