The God Test
Rev John Mulder was the pastor of Dearborn First United Methodist Church in 1978. That summer a couple of college students home for the break went to youth choir practice to connect with some old friends. Rev. Mulder preached to the choir that night on generosity. Those two students hadn’t told anyone yet but they were entertaining thoughts of getting married. Mulder said something that changed the course of their financial lives, “Give 10 percent, save 10 percent and spend the rest in joy and thanksgiving.” So they committed themselves to this idea and it became a lifelong practice to this day!
In 1869, Thomas Bramwell Welch first pasteurized grape juice as a non-alcoholic substitute for communion wine in his church. He had nothing but promised the Lord he would give 10% of his revenue to support the mission of Christ. Today, Welch’s grape juice is a $50 million dollar a year industry.
Harlan Saunders was a gas station operator. He began selling fried chicken by the side of the road about 1930. He had nothing but he promised the Lord he would tithe all the revenue he received to the mission of Christ. Ten years later he was giving away half his revenue and by the end of his life, he was giving away all his revenue.
In 1902, James Cash Penny emptied his savings account and borrowed some money from friends to open his first store--J.C. Penny. Though he was flat broke he promised the Lord that he would tithe his first dollar and every dollar after that. By the end of his life he was giving away all his yearly revenue.
In 1952, Kem Wilson opened the first Holiday Inn. He’d emptied his savings to do so and was flat broke. In faith he promised the Lord to tithe--10% of every dollar he earned to the mission of Christ. By the end of his life, he was giving all his revenue away.
Running back Barry Sanders came to the Detroit Lions in 1989. His first paycheck was $260,000. The very next week the pastor of his home church opened a letter from Barry containing a check for $26,000--a full ten percent of his pay. By the end of his career, Barry was making $17 million a year and tithing it to the mission of Christ.
Welch’s grape juice, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Holiday Inn, J.C. Pennys, and the Detroit Lions. All these enterprises were built by young people who made a commitment to tithe when they were flat broke or even in debt. In my experience old people rarely start tithing because they are loaded up with multiple anxieties they just can’t overcome. It’s usually youth and young adults who make the decision to tithe. No one forces them, they freely choose this ancient Biblical practice of generosity.
Malachi 3:10 makes this challenge to the people of God: “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” If you are not already a tither, would you consider an experiment for just one pay period in your life? Try promising 10% of your income to the mission of Christ for just one pay period and see what blessings the Lord will pour out on you.