Rosemary’s Tithing Story

Back in the late 1980s I was a single mum with four children between four and nine, and a mortgage, living in the wonderful unemployment black spot known as Ramsgate. I was dependent on Income Support and Child Benefit to survive and financially life was a struggle. Fortunately, I had been blessed with a good head for managing money and the ability to be fairly mean (probably out of fear) to boot, which meant that I avoided getting into debt but money was always a worry.

I knew God told us not to worry about what we would eat or drink or wear because our heavenly Father already knows what we need and that we are worth more than hundreds of sparrows (Matthew 6) but I came from a family of worriers and when you don’t know if you will have enough to eat, or have to choose between buying food and paying the bills, or can’t buy your children new shoes when they need them, it is hard not to worry. However, I went to a church which taught the message of faith and believed it was God’s will to prosper His children, and that was a message I desperately needed to get hold of.

This was a period of my life when God was doing a deep work in me in terms of me learning who I was in Him and that He really loved me, but it was hard to be in faith where money was concerned.  One thing that particularly annoyed me was that, while I heard many speakers teach about the need to step out in faith in giving offerings and the need to tithe (“you can’t afford NOT to tithe”), they all seemed to be Americans who, when they gave their testimonies of how God had increased them since they started tithing, always seemed to say “if you tithe, you will just need to pull your belt in for a while.” They never seemed to have had to choose between tithing and either paying the bills or eating, just tithing and going without luxuries.

Because I sensed that there was truth in much of what I heard, I really wanted to apply the teaching to my life and see God bring me out of the poverty trap in which we lived. I used to tithe (give 10%) out of the fear that if I stopped doing that, the situation would get even worse. As I was praying and asking God for understanding, one day I read this scripture:

Romans 14 v 23 “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”

This really impacted me. I was living in a cycle of fear, where money was concerned, and I was tithing out of fear that the situation would get worse if I stopped. Fear is the opposite of faith, so that meant that I was acting, not in faith, but in sin. Basically, God called my tithing sinful!  (I know that the context in Romans is not talking about money but the principle can apply in many situations).

Seeing this helped me to stop what I was doing and break the cycle. I decided to stop tithing, not because I wanted to rob God, but while I set myself to seek His understanding and wisdom on how to operate financially. I felt that I could manage, at this point in my life, to put just a couple of pounds a week in the offering rather than ten percent and I was able to do this without fear, so I decided that I would reduce my giving to this level until I knew I could operate in faith at a higher level.

I prayed. I read the Bible. I listened to all kinds of teaching about giving and money. I was convinced there was a key here – I was sure that if the principles I was hearing were really from God, and they would work for a single parent with a mortgage living on benefit in Thanet, they would work for anybody!

Gradually, some understanding began to change my perspective.

Firstly, Malachi 3 v10, says “bring all the tithes into the storehouse that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now by it, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” It does not say “tithe and money will drop through your letter box”. It promises that God will open the windows of heaven – that meant, it will rain! Rain may not sound like great news to us, but rain was what made their crops grow and crops were what they needed to survive and prosper. God promises to bless our NATURAL circumstances. This was a really important revelation. It is not supernatural provision out of the blue. It is supernatural blessing on the natural circumstances of our daily lives, to the point where we don’t need supernatural provision out of the blue.

Secondly, how does it work? What about this question of Old Testament versus New Testament?  I don’t have all the answers but, for me, the Bible says that “faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God” and there was a day when “faith cometh” and I knew it had come.

I was listening to a preacher whom I forgive for being American because he wasn’t teaching about a level of prosperity that was out of my reach but he was teaching on what he called Financial Health. (If anybody has a functioning copy of that old audio cassette by Dr Ed Cole called Financial Health, please, please let me have a copy – mine is worn out and I can’t find it anywhere but it changed my life!). In summary, he said that in the Old Testament, the people lived by sight, sense and circumstance, but in the New Testament we are called to live by faith. How he applied this to the subject of giving/tithing was like this: in the Old Testament, people grew their crops and when they got their harvest, they gave ten percent of it in the way that the Scriptures told them to. However, there is no element of faith in that. He suggested that, to operate in faith, you need to be giving BEFORE you receive. A simple illustration might be that I earn £200 a week in my job. If I am operating in the OT way, I will tithe £20 when I get paid. However, if I earn £200 but I really think I need £220 to live on, I will look ahead at what I need and am believing God to supply for me and “tithe” on that in advance, i.e. I will give £22 up front.

This made sense to me. When I heard it, an excitement sprang up in my heart and I knew that faith had come. Instead of being afraid, I couldn’t wait to put it into operation. At this point, nothing at all had changed in my circumstances and it was still going to mean that I could not see how I would pay the bills and eat, but something had changed inside me. It was November, and Christmas was coming, so it was possibly the worst time to be shorter of money than usual but I knew God had spoken to me.

From the beginning there was part of me that decided to take God up on His invitation to “prove Him”. I got myself a piece of accounting paper and started to keep an account of what I gave above the standard 10% and anything that came into the household that wasn’t the usual income. I still have this accounting sheet and it makes really interesting reading.. (More about this later).

That Christmas I struggled. Because I was tithing, I didn’t have any money of my own to buy the children Christmas presents. On Christmas Day in church I was breaking my heart on the inside, when my children went to the service with £5 rag dolls I had bought with money given by relatives.  They were absolutely delighted with the dolls, but I was heartbroken because I had had nothing to give them. However, God is faithful. By February, as I was obedient to do what He had shown me, enough extra came in that I was able to take them out and buy them belated presents.

One of the aspects of testimonies of God’s provision that I have always struggled with is the lack of detail about HOW He provided, so I am going to share a few details here.

At first, apart from giving exactly 10%, I felt I could manage an extra £1 per week as what Ed Cole called an “anticipatory tithe”. In other words, I was believing that somehow He would so bless my circumstances that my income would, in real terms, be £10 a week more than it usually was. On my accounting paper I listed all those £1s on one side and anything that came in on the other side.  Shortly after I started this, a lady in the church came to be the lodger in our spare bedroom. Benefit rules meant that, when I declared this income, I was allowed to keep £20 per week and then 50% of anything the lodger gave me over £20. This worked out that I got an extra £27.50 income and the lodger didn’t eat much so she didn’t cost much to feed. This was a real extra blessing on our natural circumstances. There were also other unexpected bits of income, gifts from unlikely people and even a neighbour who paid me for allowing him to keep his car on my drive at one point.

Several months into my tithing experiment, I revisited my accounting sheet and added up both columns. It was very encouraging to find that the figure in the right-hand column (the unexpected income) was more or less exactly ten times the figure in the left-hand column (the anticipatory tithes). The principle was definitely working.

Over the next two or three years, my aunt blessed me with a number of items including a Word Processor (my first ever) and a Writing Course subscription. This led to some earnings from writing magazine articles.

Around this time, I also applied for a short course in Teaching English as a Foreign Language at Hilderstone in Broadstairs. I applied for the short course because it was the cheapest and I wanted to have some sort of training for when my children got older and the Job Centre told me I had to get a job. When I was interviewed, the course director said he felt I should do the longer course which could open the way for me to teach in language schools. To date, I am the only person I know who was able to get a grant for that course. After doing that course, I was able to take on some part time teaching at a local language school. Although I was still on Benefits, and had to declare my earnings, I was allowed to keep £15 per week before they reduced my benefit and I gained a lot of experience in teaching. God’s blessing on my natural circumstances.

By the mid-90s, there was an influx of foreign students from Korea and many of them wanted private tuition. It got so much that I felt that, to be honest, I needed to sign off benefits and support myself on part-time work and Family Credit. (God’s blessing on the natural circumstances). However, by the late 90s work in the language school was dwindling and the then-pastor challenged me to think about looking for a full-time job. At first I was reluctant. I applied for a few jobs, unsuccessfully. But the moment I made up my mind that I was going to go for it, the next job I applied for I was offered. In fact, before I could take that job, I was offered a second job and decided to go with that one instead. In my excitement, when I was offered that job, I forgot to ask the manager how much the company would be paying me but I knew that even the bottom of the salary range was considerably more per year than I had been living on so I wasn’t worried. When I finally did ask the question, I was the only person I know, in my five years with that company, who was started at the top of the salary range. This literally doubled my income overnight. God’s blessing on my natural circumstances. Five years later, when “the brook began to dry up” (see 1 KINGS 17 v 7) another door opened which took me out of that company and into another, with another 50% overnight salary increase. God’s blessing on the natural circumstances.

None of this means there are no challenges along the way but it does mean that I have proved that God is faithful to His Word and the principle of tithing works. Strangely, I have never heard anybody argue that we don’t need to tithe because it’s an OT principle who was making the point because they wanted to give MORE than ten percent! The NT encourages a spirit of generosity and giving – ten percent is probably the starting point we can aim at. But offerings have always been over and above ten percent, so we don’t need to stop there.

In summary, what I have learned is:

  1. 1. If I tithe, I need to do it in faith.
  1. 2. MALACHI 3,v10, is a promise of blessing on NATURAL circumstances.
  1. 3. We shouldn’t be afraid to test it out by keeping an account of it. (Sometimes when you are in the bottom of a pit, you can’t see beyond the walls of your pit and little encouragements help!).
  1. 4. God DOES want us to be financially healthy, so that we can be givers and bless others.

2 CORINTHIANS 9 (AMP)

v8 “And God is able to make all grace (every favour and earthy blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need, be self-sufficient – possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation.”

v10 “And God Who provides seed for the sower and bread for eating will also provide and multiply your resources for sowing, and increase the fruits of your righteousness.”

2 Comments

  1. Kessington Onalo says:

    This is so wonderful. Truly blessed and faith inspiring. Please when you do get Dr Ed Cole’s message on Financial Health, please, please let me have a copy too. Thank you

  2. Sikahwa says:

    Thank you for inspiring me. I truly believe there’s divine blessing in tithing. From the time I started tithing in January 2017, God is raising me each day. I no longer lack much. My life has changed for the better. IMELA

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