Today I realized I made a big mistake in our budget over the last five months. I failed to update an expired debit card for our automatic tithing. This means I have not donated ten percent of my salary for nearly half a year. Which in my world in a big deal. I don’t know what to do because to complicate things further, it appears we have a hole somewhere in our budget. So most of that many is gone who knows where. In talking with God about it, I got a sense that God’s treating me how I’d treat my own child (at least how I’d hope to treat my own child).
An extra irony in all this is I recently found myself really struggling for a couple months with choosing to tithe at all. I kept looking at numbers and figuring I could do some needed stuff in my life if I just held on to that ten percent each month instead of giving it away. However, I continued tithing out of faithfulness and obedience. (We can debate about necessity of tithe, obedience, etc., another time. For now, let’s just say I feel it’s what God calls me to do.) Then I found out I, ironically, wasn’t actually tithing during that time. And the money was pretty much gone.
So I had a frank conversation with Esposa. It went something like this:
“So…I found out why it seems like we have extra money in our checking account. I screwed up, or the tithe software didn’t alert me or something, but we haven’t been tithing since November. Even worse, when I actually crunch numbers, we’ve pretty much spent all that money intended for tithe. So we have three options from what I see:
1) We start tithing again and consider jubilee on the old tithe and live in God’s grace (if He’s extending it),
2) We take our pending tax refund (and a little extra) and donate it to make up for the tithe,
3) Some combination of the two.”
She was pretty good with leaving the choice up to me. I’d already been praying about it during worship at church this morning (shortly after I discovered my mistake). It sounds crazy to me (and honestly I’m a bit skeptical with myself), but I feel like God is extending grace to me here. Treating me how I’d treat my own child (at least on a good day). He’s lovingly wooing me into reflection of my own attitude and greed. He’s gently poking me with the reality that while I was spending months grumbling about tithing, but choosing to do it anyway, I wasn’t actually tithing. Come on now, that’s funny. Even now I chuckle thinking about it.
So here I am. I feel a bit silly and foolish. Confused and afraid. And God walks with me in it. He doesn’t need my money. But he does want my heart. And wants me to walk with him. So I’m walking and trying to listen and learn. It seems like accepting grace in this situation (if he’s offering it) ultimately brings me peace and helps me work through some of my previous tithe attitude struggles. If I donate all my tax refund (which all belongs to God anyway), I can find myself feeling resentful and bitter (although I will eventually work through that too). But if I accept a bit of grace, I find myself relaxing and reflecting on the lesson, and irony, that exists.
So I think God is treating me how I’d hope to treat my own child. I’d hope to extend grace and invite Hijo into relationship. I’d hope to guide him toward a long term lesson that settles in his heart. To avoid him resenting me or obeying with bitterness.
My final choice is yet to be made. But I know wherever I land, God guides me and gives me grace and loves me more than even I love Hijo.