Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tithe, Coin Star, and IOU

This is a Golden Oldie, one of MY favorites! Enjoy!

“Honey, I don’t know how to say this….I don’t want to pay the tithe anymore,” I said to my husband on Sunday night. Now, wait! Don’t panic ladies; I haven’t fallen off the wagon on the way to the storehouse. Let’s just say the wagon had to make a few extra stops on the way. It all started, when my husband, the financial manager in the family, placed in my hands the grocery money, and the tithe money, informing me I was to pay both. The Lord’s money in one hand, Wal-mart’s in the other. Up till this point, my husband has faithfully tithed, placing that check in the offering plate, while I have looked on with admiration for my godly husband. Apparently there is also a great responsibility that comes with paying tithe, and my husband wanted his poorer half to share in the blessing and responsibility. He overestimated his other half, well more like his one fourth.

All was well as I paid for my groceries at Save-A-Lot, and continued on to Wal-Mart to buy the name brand products I can’t live without-Miracle Whip, Heinz Ketchup, and a few dozen others. We, the kids and I, walked down every aisle, some a couple of times, gathering all the snacks and products that allow our home to run smoothly, or at least give us something good to eat when things get a little rough. As we proceeded to check out, with exhausted kids hanging all over the buggy, I found I had made a mathematical error, thirty dollars over. With a line behind me of other exhausted people,(I wonder if they looked that way before they got in line behind my kids), and not having any idea where in the buggy the $20.00 ink refill was for my computer printer, and not really remembering what all I had bought that could wait until next time, I reached into the sacred pocket of my wallet. As lightening and clouds formed around my hand I removed the required bills. Trembling I handed the Lord’s money to the clerk, and silently prayed a prayer you will not find in the Bible, or any devotional, “Lord, would you bless me so I can give you your money back?”

As I left the store, I pictured two large, Italian looking angels wearing black leather jackets, gold chains, rings, and brass knuckles following me to make sure I covered the stupid bet I’d made. “Please, just give me until Sunday morning! I promise I’ll get you your money,” I yelled towards the sky, as I heard door locks clicking on surrounding vehicles in the parking lot. I know the Bible says He loves a cheerful giver, but He never mentioned the fearful borrower.
The drive home was a long one. I felt like a get away car driver after a bank robbery. I wondered if the satellite had picked us up yet. I was afraid to look in the rear view mirror, and maybe see a trail of glorious blue light flashing chariots as they pursued me. I felt as obvious as a white bronco on the LA freeway. When I passed the interstate off ramp, I had an inspiring idea. I could stand on the corner with my “Will Work For Tithe Sign”. I might even make enough for an extra love offering! But I knew what would happen. People would offer to buy me a meal instead. I have groceries, I need more tithe! As I got home and unloaded groceries, I started forming a pile of possible returns I could make so my heavenly account wouldn’t be overdrawn. I pictured a cloud, with “Curse” written on it, hovering over Monday on the calendar, and it had no silver lining.

As I continued unloading groceries, another problem arose. Panic. I started yelling at the kids, “Don’t open those cookies, we might not keep them!”
“Why are you taking back my cookies, what about Rachael’s?”
“Mom, we have to have toilet paper!”
“Here, take the vegetables back!”
I did find the printer ink, and realized if the Italian angels broke my fingers I wouldn’t have anything to print off anyway. That left ten dollars. Then I remembered a source of income that had provided me gas money on many a day as a teenager. Loose change!

I found almost $10.00 in loose change in my purse! Oh.no! It was 8:00 on a Saturday night. All the banks were closed. I don’t think the tithe envelopes are made for $10.00 in change. (At least not one I want to put my husband’s name on.) I realized that there was no law that said tithe had to be paid on Sunday morning. I could go to the Coin Star (where you turn your change into cash) machine at Kroger’s before church on Sunday night. That led to another problem. How do I get my husband to stop at Kroger’s on the way, without telling him why? Problem solved itself. “I can’t tell you why…”
“Is it something personal you need?”
Paying the tithe was my personal responsibility, and I’m sure I would be held personally responsible if it didn’t get paid. Yes, I would say it was a personal need.

My husband decided to drive on his own so he wouldn’t have to leave early. (Not to mention I needed to stop at Wal-Mart, to have the wagon full to bring to the storehouse that night.) So I returned my printer ink, cashed in my change and………
“Oh, come on God, couldn’t you cut me a break!” The change machine kept a dollar as a fee for using it. I was a dollar short! Have you ever noticed they are no envelopes at church for IOU’s? I did see some envelopes for missionary contributions. I thought about putting my name on one, and the tithe in it, so that when Chris found out and I fled to Africa I’d have funds to buy a spear and hut.

I thought back to when I was a kid, and my mom and dad made my brother and I tithe our allowance and extra money. My brother borrowed about two dollars from me every Sunday to pay his tithe. I could borrow a dollar. I looked down the pew at my kids and my father-in-law and mother-in-law at the other end. I couldn’t ask to borrow dollar from my in-laws….(I don’t know though, I have kind of felt like they’ve owed me since August 30th almost nine years ago.) I could get Rachael to ask. No she knows too much.
(Subtleness is not in Rachael’s vocabulary.) I’ll just have to pay what I’ve got. I felt a little embarrassed when I filled the tithe envelope. My husband uses larger, crisp bills so the envelope fills nicely and is easy to lick. I had ones, fives, tens, and a few receipts that got stuck in my hurry to fill the envelope. The envelope barely closed, and I’m now missing my Social Security Card.

When my husband arrived at church after the offering was taken up, I was so relieved I told him the story. Turns out, with all the extra gas it took running my extra errands, and having to drive two vehicles to church, He could have paid the missing tithe.
I look back on all that energy and effort it took to pay that tithe, and I know why I did it. It wasn’t out off fear of God’s wrath; it was because I realized all that my husband went through when he paid the tithe. All the decisions he had to make about what to spend, what to wait on, yet he has consistently made the right decision to obey God, and our family has been blessed because of it.

In Leviticus 9 verse 6, when the people were bringing their offerings to God, it reads , “And Moses said, This is the thing that the Lord commanded that ye should do: and the glory of the Lord shall appear unto you.” When I think of Chris tithing, I see the Glory of the Lord. I see an Almighty God ruling and reigning in the Priest of our home. There was a time when we didn’t tithe consistently. So I see the Glory of God in that he dealt with and changed my husband’s heart. If He can do that, what else can God’s Glory do in our home? If all I could see was God’s glory revealed in the Sun, that would be enough to believe He could make thousands of lights called stars to light up the night sky. God’s glory changes our mundane existence day after day, by revealing to us the supernatural at work behind the veil of our flesh and carnality. God’s Glory, is what escapes the wonder of Heaven breaking through the barriers of blinded eyes, prison walls, bound souls, and weak wills to reveal the greater power beyond, and even more glorious, proclaiming that that power is available to us, to work in us and through that we may all become windows that the Glory of God can revealed in. God’s Glory prompts our Spirit man to look beyond what we can see, and believe what we’ve only dreamed, or never believed was possible.

After this whole experience, I realize why God said to give our first fruits. When you give your first fruits, you cut a lot of hassle out. You give God His portion first, and the rest of your decisions are clear cut. When you wait, every decision is laborious as you struggle to work it all out to make room for Him. I think of the first fruits of my day. Psalms 63:1-2 says, “ O God thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is. To see thy power and thy glory , so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.” Giving God the first fruits of my day, can produce and reveal His Glory. Instead, I have been giving my children my first fruits, (getting up when they do), and have spent the remainder of the day giving to them. But to seek Him first, I would have the remainder of the day to enjoy His blessing on my day, rather that wearing myself out all day trying to pursue Him to give Him the fruit already wilted from the days struggles. First fruits, are fresh fruits. They give the receiver the honor of being the one worth the labor it took to produce the fruit. Bellsouth, Cumberland Valley Electric, Whitley Water, and Wal-Mart, are not worth the labor to be presented with our families first fruits, and they certainly will not turn around and bless us for paying them first. Nor will my children ever come to know Christ as Lord, as long as they find me always serving them at the table, and not first serving Christ. Not only that, I rob them of seeing God’s Glory revealed in me as I am obedient, and I rob myself of seeing God’s Glory in them as I train them to take their tender, delicate first fruits to Him. For after all, it is Christ that gives the increase, in all areas of our lives, and He should be allowed to savor the fruit of His vineyards first.

So, “Honey I don’t want to pay tithe anymore. You do it, and I’ll try to be more supportive, and not complain so much about where all the apples went. And on your next trip to the storehouse, would you care to take an extra apple? I was a little short this trip.”


  1. Ah Jennifer! I've missed you!!! Thanks for sharing while teaching, something you do SO well! Blessings!

  2. I loved this post. Thank you for sharing it, Jennifer.

    Anita Mae.