I was born and raised a Christian and have been taught that I am supposed to tithe (give 10% of my income to the church). It can be more, but it should never be less.
When I was little I didn’t have a problem giving to the church. Every Sabbath, my parents would give me money which I would heartily drop into the offering box.
As I grew up and learned the power of money, my perspective about tithing changed. There were times back in high school when I would purposely stay outside the church while the deacons were collecting the tithes and the offering inside. And since I “couldn’t” give my tithes and offerings, I had the extra money to buy something for myself.
This went on for a few weeks until my dad noticed and reprimanded me for it. So I stopped.
When I had my first job, I made sure to set aside 10% of what I earned every month and give it to the church. But working in a highly urbanized area made that very difficult for me.
I saw a sign posted on the door of my favorite shoe store. It read: “50% off on all items.” I had enough shoes but I didn’t have a red pair, and a red pair of shoes looks hot. It would give me the attention I thought I needed. I had to buy a red pair of shoes.
I knew my wallet would disagree with me but my feasting eyes overpowered my logical mind.
I opened my wallet hoping to find a few bills hidden somewhere. I didn’t. What I saw instead, was the 10% I was saving for the church. I counted it. It’s enough to buy three pairs. But I didn’t need three pairs. I only needed the one red pair of shoes.
“I’ll buy one pair, then replace the money when the next payday comes,” I convinced myself. It’s going to be the same amount. Two hours later I was happily carrying a paper bag with a shoe box inside. I hurriedly went home and tried them on. They were a perfect fit.
My deliberate choice of spending tithe on myself and repaying it on the following pay day didn’t stop there. I convinced myself all was fine and it’s as if nothing happened. Soon, I had new pants, shirts, blouses and a smartphone. But along with my expanding collection of new items were the increasing instances of me “losing” money. It was like I never had enough.
I tried listing all my expenses and could see that I should have enough budget for that period, but my money kept disappearing. I thought hard about it and surmised it could be my “stealing” habit. I named it stealing because the money I had been using to buy my new stuff actually belonged to the church. I had been repaying it alright, but it felt different. The money’s different.
I then experimented in being faithful with my tithes. I fought the urge to go to the malls when the big red and while letters said “SALE!”
The result? I consistently had enough money. At times I would have extra so I could buy what I wanted, but not everything, of course. There were still days when what I wanted was way beyond what I could afford – like the new red stilettos on display. $149.00 said the price tag.
I again opened my wallet hoping to find a few bills hidden somewhere. I didn’t. What I saw, instead, was the 10% I was saving for the church. I counted it. I could buy the stilettos plus a few snacks.
I went inside the store to take a closer look at the seductive red shoes. I visualized the jealous looks other women would give me. I imagined the compliments my friends would say to me. They would be a perfect fit.
“But no. I will not buy them,” I firmly convinced myself. I turned around and walked away hurriedly.
My phone beeped. I looked at it to find this text from my sister: “I sent $1,000 for my credit card bill. Send this amount to this account number. Give this amount to our parents and brother. The rest is yours.” The rest is yours, my brain repeated in excitement. I quickly opened the calculator app and computed how much is the rest.
“This minus that minus this is equal to,” my heart beating faster while calculating, “$149.00.”
“Thanks a lot! You’re the best,” I texted back while walking in my new red stilettos.