Thursday, October 4, 2012

Show me the money!!

I've spent all my life being able to describe myself as a "broke [noun]". First it was a broke high school student. I only work 8 hours a week if I'm lucky (and then I added a second job for another six hours a week. Thank you Tracy). I have no idea what I managed to spend my money on back then but I managed to spend it. Then I was a broke college student. I made enough for snacks and Java. And that's basically what I spent it on. Along with trying to see my fiance as much as possible and thus paying for his gas at times. And now? I'm an au pair. We don't make terribly much. I have enough to do what I need and am blessed with the chance to be exploring Europe for a year. Considering that what I earn is "pocket money" (I get my room and board as well), I don't need much more. But I stink at money. I think it's a family trait. (Just try to argue with me Mom, Gramma, or Dad.)

Last month my goal was to save 100 Euros towards my camera/trip to London. That's a good chunk of what I earn per month but I need to save if I'm going to do the things I want to plus to get home! Do you know how much I saved? Let's just say it wasn't 100 Euros.
(My own photo from Jan 2009)

Knowing that I'm trying to save, that I'm trying to throw a party for the girls, that I have a million excuses, why should I tithe? What is my 26 Euros a month really going to do? And besides the church I'm currently attending is online. How do I give to an online church? I don't have a bank account here and I'm not about to mail them money. Not to mention that I'd have to convert the currency and they'd take a fee if I wired it. I'm not going to use my credit card to tithe. If I do wire it, does the fee count toward the tithe or is that from the other 90% of my money? I thought all of that sounded like a logical explanation for why not to tithe right now.


I may not be giving hundreds per month. I may not be the greatest contributor ever but do you know what? I am stepping out in faith. It was not the Pharisees who gave mountains of gold that Christ praised. It was the widow who gave two coins. It was what she had. I'm not saying I'm on par with that widow. She gave all she had. I'm giving a part. The moment I got paid this month, I took out my tithe and put it in a separate section of my purse. And it comes with me when I go out just like my other money but it doesn't get spent on a bottle of water for Nuria or a strawberry filled croissant for me.

What I'm about to say, I want to be clear about. I'm not sharing this to gain praise before men. I've kept this part of my finances private for a reason. It's not between me and my family or my friends or anyone but me and G-d. Some people will argue that I'm "not doing it right" and though I completely understand that, please bear with me and please understand this is how He has led me at this time in my life. This is me trying to be transparent and not to brag or to make you feel bad. And if there is any part of me that is sharing this to brag that I'm not aware of, I pray that G-d would forgive my ulterior motives and would use this post despite that.

Since my first trip to London, I hate walking past the homeless without giving them something. But I cannot in good conscious give them money. There are too many stories of people getting rich from panhandling or of addicts and drunks who just use the money to buy booze or their next high. I will not help my brothers and sisters to fall further down the rabbit hole. But if you are sitting on a sheet of cardboard, huddled under a blanket, in the middle of a rainy day on a street, I'm willing to bet that you're hungry (and not reading this). So the money I have set aside, the first 10% of what I earn each month, goes to buy the men and women I pass by something to eat. Sometimes it's croissants from the bakery or a sandwich or a hot sausage and fries.

The online church I'm attending is four weeks into a five week series right now on money called Strapped and I've been talking about the theme of this in a facebook group called "Single Ladies Talk It Over On Facebook". I was finally convinced through the sermons that I needed to give a tenth of my money back to G-d but was unsure if it had to be through the church. Leslie, one of the other ladies, pointed out to me Deuteronomy 14:24-25. In the NLT, it reads like this:

24 “Now when the Lord your God blesses you with a good harvest, the place of worship he chooses for his name to be honored might be too far for you to bring the tithe. 25 If so, you may sell the tithe portion of your crops and herds, put the money in a pouch, and go to the place the Lord your God has chosen. 
Bring your tithe to the "place of worship He chooses". Doesn't that sound like the church (building) to you? This is what it took to tell me that G-d does want me to give my money to the church I call home. Unfortunately though, all of those justifications that I was using to not tithe at all? The currency conversion, the lack of bank account, etc? Those still exist. So at this point in my life, G-d and I have talked. I am honoring Him with the firstfruits of my earnings. But right now, G-d understands my limitations. And He will still use this tithe to bless. Assuming at the end of this year that I go back to Rochester, I don't exactly see many homeless people in my suburb. So at that point, my tithes will change. They will go to the church, whichever church I call home at that point, and if/when I run into someone that looks like they could use a meal, that will be from the other 90%.

But what does this have to do with promises? This is an obligation right? Well yes, it's a commandment that we still ought to do ("What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things." Luke 11:42) but...

"[T]he L[-]rd your G[-]d will bless you in all your work." Deut. 14:29b

"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the L[-]rd Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it." Malachi 3:10

If we are faithful, G-d will bless us. He promised. And ya know what? The very morning I set aside my 26 Euros, I went to a bakery to buy breakfast since I'd met Kathrin and Nuria at the playground. I found a 5 Euro bill on the ground. No I don't expect it to happen but how cool is it that it did?


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