Four years ago, I moved out alone after a heated argument with my family.
At around the same time, I began attending a small family church. The pastor’s wife invested a lot of time in mentoring me. She studied the Bible with me weekly, and often lent me her listening ear. I was incredibly grateful.
I did not know how to repay her, so I started tithing to the church out of a heart of gratitude towards her. I did not want her to invest in me without any returns.
The other reason I started giving was because I saw that the church was small – every cent of the tithes and offerings collected from church members counted. I remember one month, our pastor announced that we did not have enough to pay rent for that month. Though I was not rich and did not earn a high salary, I decided to prioritise tithing then.
Eventually, I reconciled with my family and began contributing to the family expenses again. Though this additional expense strained my finances, I was still determined to continue tithing. I felt grateful for the help that the pastor’s wife had given to me during my hard times, and I did not want the finances of the small church to be affected.
There’s the problem: I wasn’t tithing out of a personal conviction to please the Lord. Instead, I was tithing to please people around me like the pastor’s wife and the congregation.
Tithing from my own strength and for the wrong reasons, I soon started to grumble. Though I continued giving the 10 percent that my church recommended each member to give – I was inwardly unhappy.
I began to find fault with what our usher (she’s also in charge of collecting tithes and offerings) would pray before the collection. She would typically say something along the lines of, “I pray we will all give with a cheerful heart.”
Her words meant nothing to me. I would continue to grumble, thinking to myself, “As long as I give, it’s okay … It does not really matter whether my heart is cheerful. As long I’m not hindering church finances – it should be fine.’’
Tithing is not mere grudging obedience. Tithing reflects how ready we are to surrender our hearts.
But God was concerned about my attitude of giving. He did not give such grumbling a chance to linger. During my quiet time one day, God mercifully showed me that the prayers the usher prayed were actually based on scripture.
“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7)
As I studied this verse, I felt as if God was lovingly saying: “I want you to be cheerful as you give. Do not give out of compulsion. If you are not cheerful, please keep your money. I don’t want it. I would rather have your heart.”
I felt convicted. I realised that God only wants my heart. He wants my attitude to be right before Him. God does not desire my money; His desire is for me to love Him with a heart of conviction – to give Him a place above everything else in my heart. I felt a tender, fatherly love flowing out of the words of the Bible, telling me I am precious in His eyes.
So why had it been so difficult for me to give cheerfully from my heart? Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15). I realised that I did not love God enough. Outwardly, I declared that I loved God. But inwardly, God was revealing to me the true condition of my heart.
Tithing is not mere grudging obedience. Tithing reflects how ready we are to surrender our hearts. A surrendered heart is a heart that is cheerful in giving, and God can do far more in our lives when we live with a surrendered heart.
Ever since God revealed to me His desire for my heart, I no longer grumble about tithing. Though my finances are still tight, 2 Corinthians 9:6 encourages me: “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”
God’s kingdom is not about the material things of the world. It is about eternal things that last forever. As we tithe generously, we may not see financial returns in our bank accounts, but we definitely reap returns that are of eternal value.
Tithing to the Lord when I am financially tight, I have learned far more than I would have if I were rich. I have learned what it is like to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), and I am grateful to experience God’s truth in His promises each time I surrender.
Slowly and surely, He is teaching me to trust Him more. And each time He does that my love for Him only grows.
This article was first published on YMI.today, and is republished with permission.