How We Decide Our Giving
by Pastor Tom and Karen Anderson
We grew up at First United Methodist Church in Dearborn. I don’t remember having much of a financial plan for my life. But when Karen and I became engaged, financial planning suddenly came into focus. It was at this time that our pastor, the Rev. John Mulder gave a message on tithing. He said something that has guided our financial life for 41 years of marriage: “Give ten percent. Save ten percent. Spend the rest in joy and thanksgiving.” We committed to this advice. We had no income at the time. We had a few hundred dollars saved up from our summer jobs. We were headed off to Chicago for four years of graduate school. It was an exciting time.
Here’s how it works for us. We take our expected paycheck for 2022; multiply by .10 and it comes to $5,000. This is our commitment to give to Thrive Church next year.
Tithing is an ancient spiritual discipline. In the Bible it first appears in the story of Abraham (Genesis 14). Abraham mounted a military campaign to save his nephew Lot and Lot’s family from slavery. After a successful rescue operation Abraham gratefully gave ten percent of his income to God in praise and worship. The very idea of tithing was born of faith. God saved and Abraham responded. What was true for Abraham 4000 years ago is also true for Christians. God has saved us through Jesus Christ and financial giving is part of our faith response.
It’s not a law that you have to pray. It’s not a law that you have to attend church. It’s not a law that you have to read your Bible. And it’s not a law that you have to tithe. Relax. Ours is not a rules-based or rule-keeping religion. Christian living is driven by gratitude. We do God’s will not because we are forced to but because we are grateful for what God has done for us.
Jesus told a story to illustrate this principle: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13:44) Joyful and extravagant giving is the result of having the treasure of Jesus Christ in your life! There are no “shoulds” or “ought to’s” here. Each believer decides how to express the joy they have in Jesus through their financial giving.
Karen and I made it simple for ourselves. Give ten percent. Save ten percent. Spend the rest in joy and thanksgiving. Following this advice has led us to make a huge investment in the kingdom of God over the years. It’s also led us to a financially secure retirement. When we look at our retirement portfolio we know exactly how much we’ve given to God over the years because the numbers are the same!
Of course financial investments grow in value over the years to become more than you contributed. But kingdom investments also grow--and they do so much more explosively. Jesus said the seeds the sower planted eventually bore fruit--some thirty, sixty and even a hundred-fold! Over the years we’ve rejoiced to see children in our church learn to pray; youth who have been baptized and confirmed. Adults discover the Bible and go on life-changing mission trips. We’ve seen people blessed by powerful worship services and beautiful music. This past year alone we saw 16 people publicly confess their faith in Jesus Christ at the altar of Thrive Church! We love you and rejoice to be about the mission of Jesus with you!