Learning to Give
Curt and Marybeth Whalen

"Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV)

Marybeth and I are going to admit something that you don't usually hear in Christian circles. For most of our marriage, we haven't tithed regularly. Even though we both grew up in church, heard all the sermons about tithing, and knew what the Bible had to say about money. We had all the head knowledge any one person would need.

We just never participated.

When we decided to become debt free, part of our process was to recognize our need to surrender. We surrendered our mistakes, our marriage, and our money to God. We humbled ourselves, confessed our pride, and asked Him for help. Surrendering control of our money was a hard but important step to take, and we knew that regularly giving an offering to God was part of the equation.

During this time, Marybeth and I finally admitted out loud what we had always been convicted of in our hearts. When it came down to it, we didn't trust that our Heavenly Father was really going to take care of us. Giving, we've learned, is an expression of love and worship, but our fear outweighed our love.

Even so, we were determined to start. It wasn't easy. We argued with God about giving Him money that He didn't really need when we could have used that money to pay off our creditors. Little by little, we began giving to our church. At the time, it wasn't a full 10% of my paycheck, but it was something, and we began to develop the habit of giving on a regular basis. We began to understand that giving God 10% of our income, or tithing, has nothing to do with whether we need the money to pay bills, whether it's an old covenant command that Jesus changed (as some suggest), something we do out of guilt, or something that will bring us unlimited financial blessings.

It's much simpler then any of those things.

Giving God our tithe is an expression of love. We give God the first of what shows up in our checking account to acknowledge that He loved us first. We worship Him with our gift because God gave us the ultimate gift: His life, dying a brutal death on a cross to save us from the horrors and consequences of sin. We, like God who sacrificed His Son, give to demonstrate love.

When we began consistently giving it was hard, painful, and even scary to develop the habit. But year after year, month after month, we stayed committed. And now, I can tell you that nothing is more meaningful to us than to write God that tithe check.

My encouragement to you if you don't currently give is to simply begin. Don't be overwhelmed with what you don't do, should do, or have to do. Just start small. Take something to church this Sunday and experience the joy of worshiping God with your money. Challenge yourself to be consistent and to increase what you give. Ask God for help and share the joy of giving with your children. Pray over your gift before you leave for church, sharing with your kids your "thanks" for the many blessings that God has filled your life with – the roof over your head, the clothes on your back, the food on your table, and His love in your hearts.

Dear Lord, I pray that You would transform me into someone who demonstrates love with the gift of my money, my time, and my talents. Please teach me what it means to be a cheerful giver. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
A Life That Says Welcome, Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others by Karen Ehman

Learning to Live Financially Free Marybeth and Curt Whalen

Visit the Whalens’ financial blog and click here for more resources by the Whalens

Application Steps:
Determine to give this Sunday at church or write a check to an organization you have been blessed by. Don't get hung up on the amount. Just give in response to what God has given to you. Then build from there. Pray that God would unleash a spirit of giving within your family.

Do you trust God to provide for you and your family, even when you give money that you feel you should keep "just in case"? How has this viewpoint affected your ability to give with joy in the past? How can you begin to give out of joy instead of guilt and obligation?

Power Verses:
2 Corinthians 8:7, "But just as you excel in everything - in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us - see that you also excel in this grace of giving." (NIV)

©2009 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I appreciate the sentiment of this devotional... and the honesty behind it... but I have to say that if you are teaching someone that they can give feel freedom by giving God less than that 10% that He requires, you are wrong. God is faithful to take care of His sheep when they are obedient. 10% is a commandment, not a suggestion. It is important to teach on tithing, and I appreciate this intent of this devotional... but I have to say that if you are to obey God, you don't start little by little... you obey Him 100% on the day that you decide to begin obeying. To me, it's almost like telling an alcoholic that one day he should strive to be alcohol free, but for now, he can begin cutting out some of his alcohol and increase the amount he gives up each time. Or telling a gossip, I know it's hard not to gossip, so just start little by little not talking about someone, and one day you'll be able to withhold your tongue like God commands. I do love this website, and I appreciate the hard work that you ladies put into what you do. THANK YOU! I would absolutely welcome any responses, also, to what I have posted. I am open to learning what you have to say! blessings...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an area where I struggle as well.But it's not because I want to keep money "just incase",but because I struggle to pay my bills,living paycheck to paycheck.How would you encourage someone like myself for whom tithing means not paying a bill?

Blogger Unknown said...

I believe this devotional was written just for me. I've been working a summer job, and with trying to "provide" for myself without my parents' help, I ended up finishing the money on my account, without taking out God's share. I'm really struggling to give Him what He deserves. Thank you. I'm about to write my check right now.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand your point of view. However, we serve a loving, gracious God who wants us to serve Him in every aspect of our lives because we love him. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we don't automatically stop every sin and obey every commandment (oh, how I wish it were that easy!). No amount of outside pressures and "supposed to" will affect the heart change God wants us to work in us. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit who lives within us as believers, God transforms us thought by thought and action by action to make us more like him and less like the world. So much so that the world often says of believers, "How can they be so generous, forgiving, gracious etc. ...How can they tithe?". When my husband and I decided to praise and honor God with our finances, we were not prepared. Over time, we changed our priorities and our way of life and God has changed us to give so much more than 10% of our finances. I thank God that He NEVER stops working to transform EVERY area of our life so that we can become more like Him. I rejoice as God graciously whispers to me to change my heart so that I WANT to obey because I love Him. Thank you for this website that helps me to do that.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's been hard for my husband and I to tithe regularly, for so long we just made ends meet. My husband is a pastor and we have been tithing regularly but money is still always very tight. He often works 90 hour weeks. We as a family make a huge sacrifice for him to do ministry. He told me he doesn't feel comfortable giving tithe when he works so much. He said he feels he's long hours are more than his tithe. I know god commands us to give cheerfully, I know He commands us to honor our husbands. Any thoughts on this matter? And do most pastors pay tithe? To my understanding, the priests were given some of what was given to the temple. Did they tithe also?

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the first 10% is what God requires and i think he will except no less. Its not about money its all about obiedence. I do love these devotions and i read them everyday.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I struggle with this as well. Question... is it the first 10% of every paycheck? I'm new to this so I'm just asking.

Anonymous Larae Weaver said...

So many people do struggle with this. I believe that you are suppose to give 10% of your gross income, not the net. Sometimes, I think that it is better to give some than none. I am not tithing right now because I don't have a job, but I do believe that He wants us to give the entire 10%. If you need to start by giving less, I think thats okay. As we grow in Christ I think our ways of thinking change, but we shouldn't say that its not okay for someone to give what they feel they should at that time, atleast they are trying and I believe God will bless it even if you are only giving lets say 5 or 6 or even 3%. The widdow gave all she had, wouldn't we be much more blessed if we would give everything. I am trying to surrender everything. I want and am offering all of myself to Him. He has blessed me so much, and I love Him more now than I ever have. When your heart is in the service of our Lord, truly in it, and not just saying it is, than I believe God will bless you no matter what. I believe it is a totally personal thing. As long as God has your heart than it shouldn't matter what you are giving or not giving. Anyway, I love how we can share our hearts and share what we need to. Love you all so much.

Blogger Russell Earl Kelly said...

Your comments about tithing are wrong. (1) Firstfruits were only very small token offerings and were never the same as tithes. (2) Although money was common even in Genesis, money was never called a tithe. (3) True biblical tithes were always only food from inside Israel. (4) Tithing was only commanded as a statute for Israel and both its temple and priesthood have been replaced by the priesthood of the believer. (5) NT giving is primarily sacrificial. That means more than 10% for many and less for others.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband didn't come from a church background. Our pator shared how he and his wife were not tithers at the first of their ministry. They began with 2percent
and increased as the Lord blessed their faith step. We began at 3 percent and increased as we were meeting our needs too. By the end of a year we were completely tithing plus more. For those of you who feel tithing would mean not being able to pay a bill, I write the tithe check first even when on paper we shouldn't be able to pay it. God has been faithful! Our needs have always been met.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You must think that all people live in a fairyland,my husband and I both lost our jobs,and we still go to church,and we give what we CAN give,you are way out of line with this devotional,and Russell is so right about tithing, get your thinking straight!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

God doesn't need our money, but he does need for us to be obedient. When we are obedient, he is quick to bless. On my way to church one Sunday morning, I was thinking about my tithes and that I could almost pay another mortgage with the money I give, (please, don't misunderstand, I give it gladly, if we don't give with the right attitude, we are not pleasing God)I heard God tell me that is true, but I am paying my mortgage for the future, in Heaven,which is better than anything I could have on this earth.

Blogger Curt said...

These were great comments and questions. I tried to respond to all with more about our story...



Anonymous Anonymous said...

when we give it shows our love for God and also how obedient we are. though there are many times right now that I go to church and cant give because we r struggling financially God sees our heart and we know that we cannot WAIT for the day we can tithe the 10 percent.
I know he loves us unconditionally.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a single mom, I have tried over the years to tithe and it just doesn't work, I tried 10% and then 5% and each time I tried, bills went unpaid. And no there is no way for me to cut back any further. What do you do in this kind of situation?

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