By Reba Phelps
When I undesignedly became a single mom I was so consumed with anxiety and fear over how my girls and I would survive on one income. As a married adult with two children at home it took all of our incomes just to make ends even come close to meeting. It seemed like when we were just getting ahead something in the house would break down or some emergency would befall our household. This is nothing that most American’s don’t face on a daily basis.
During the divorce, my oldest child was headed to college, not on a full ride, and my little one just wasn’t cheap. They both prefer to have groceries available at all times and the other basics that they had grown accustom to living as a family of four.
Before the official parting of ways I brought all of my financial information to my close friend and she did what she does best. She had me cut everything out that needed cutting. She trimmed and scaled back all that was deemed frivolous. But, it was still workable and we could even stay in our house.
We were very blessed that we had an amicable divorce and had no issues with child support.
I spent many hours each pay period just studying where every single penny went. I was meticulous with every purchase. As time went on it just felt like something was missing and I knew I could be doing better. I knew deep in my heart exactly what it was.
My parents had always raised us to tithers and givers. They were so faithful and always gave ten percent of their meager incomes back to the church. There would be times where we literally had one meal left in the cabinets and someone would randomly bring us bags of groceries. God always showed up for my parents in a timely fashion and this didn’t go unnoticed by the kids being raised in their house.
I had witnessed first hand the blessing that comes along with being a giver.
While making peace within myself to do what I knew needed to be done I realized that ten percent is a lot of money to a single mom with a child in college and another child that wasn’t cheap. I began to bargain with God and look for scriptures that may give me an out. Just a small window of opportunity to hang onto to my little cash. Surely you cannot give ten percent if you don’t have ten percent left over.
The very first scripture I found basically said that each must decide to give in his own heart and not under reluctancy and that God loved a cheerful giver. I would have been way more cheerful had I not had a child in college and another one that wasn’t cheap. Aside from that, there just wasn’t ten percent left over after I had paid all of my bills.
God, having the ultimate sense of humor, then lead me to a scripture that said we should honor him with the first fruits of our income. I am no Theologian but that appears to say that we should pay our tithe first. This was a scary endeavor for me even though I knew in my spirit that God would always provide.
As you can imagine the more I read and studied about tithing and giving it just became more evident that I didn’t have a good case for hoarding my own money. Everything just kept leading back to stepping out on faith and relying on God’s promises in his word.
Every time I wrestled with finding scriptures or excuses I just couldn’t quit thinking about how blessed my mom and dad were while raising three children. We never went without electricity, transportation or food. God completely took care of us.
When I finally found peace with tithing I just couldn’t take the full plunge. I started small with only giving five percent and if I was feeling super charitable I would give seven percent. The strange thing was that I didn’t even notice the money was gone. It wasn’t long before I started committing to the full ten percent as often as I could.
Even though I wasn’t a perfect tither and giver I could see where God made provisions for me and my daughters. An extra scholarship would appear for my oldest daughter in college. A part-time and enjoyable job for my youngest who isn’t cheap. Winning a random contest for gift cards. Just recently a free oil change and tire rotation. Increased sales on my job.
The list grows every single day. My biggest blessings come when I am able to give to others. That is truly something I never thought I would be able to do as a single mom with a kid in college and another kid who isn’t cheap.
By no means, am I suggesting to tithe or give just to receive in return. I am merely testifying that when you trust God he will take care of the rest in his timing. You cannot out give God.
“Give and it shall be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” – Luke 6:38
9 thoughts on “Ten Percent”
God said first fruits. That means 10% of everything. Time, gifts, earnings and bonuses. Heck, we even tithe our hunt to our “priests” and God has been faithful to bless us, just as promised in Luke 6:38
I touch and agree with this article! I am person who experience some of the above situations, and I can boldly say that my God, Jehovah-Jireh, is a provider! Luke 6:38 is one of my favorite Scriptures when it comes to giving!
I’ll try to keep this story short which those who know me know that’s almost impossible. There was a time before I was married and still at home with my parents and siblings. We were going thru a hard time. One night I was riding with my mother to check on my grandparents who weren’t well. On the way back home there was a box in the road. We stopped and put it in the back of the car after making sure it wasn’t a body or something bad. When we got home and opened it the box was full of clothes!! There was something in there for all of us and what didn’t fit we shared. God not only rained manna from heaven for the Israelites but clothes from heaven for the Murphy’s. He is good all the time.
Exactly, Reba. You have to step out on faith. God has brought me through lots of hard times. People stepping up when I couldn’t pay our bill at a restaurant. Someone at the grocery store helping out when I couldn’t pay for our groceries. A guy driving me to a gas station and back to my car when I ran out of gas on the interstate. A coworker spending her days off helping me after my husband died. God puts these people in our lives at just the right time and place to meet our needs. And, oh what a feeling of peace and joy when you’re able to pay it forward. Thanks for writing this column. It’s a dose of encouragement in these heart-breaking times.
Reba, I love your article, your faith, your honesty. I am not a church goer, I prefer communing daily through meditation and prayer.
My preference is to donate to charities such as
The women’s resource center, all the animal
Rescue groups, CASA, Goodwill and American Indian Group homes. I have found the tighter my budget is the more I need to tithe. Also, what I tithe is what I receive more of. Money brings more abundance. Goods brings more material things and donating my time gives me more time.
Give a percent of your time or your service. God cares less about what you put in his coffers than what you have in your heart.
Friend I swear I love reading your article every week! You inspire me to be the best writer I can be. Love you
Reba, you have blessed my heart my dear friend and I’m praying for you as a single mother, to me the strongest people on the planet!
Pastor Tim Harris
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