I first met Emily G. Stroud during my book tour for The Broken Way in Fort Worth, Texas where she lives with her husband and two children. As a financial advisor for over two decades, she has observed that money issues are one of the greatest stressors for both individuals and married couples. It’s a grace to welcome Emily to the farm’s front porch today…
art of achieving financial freedom is realizing that we prosper as we love others as God has loved us.
I love what Mother Teresa had to say about giving: “It is not about how much we give, but about how much love we put into giving.”
You don’t have to look very far to find people who are in need. Unfortunately, our natural, sinful nature is to look away, or run away, if we encounter people in need.
Helping others can be messy, and we often don’t want to be inconvenienced — but there is a way that changes your life and others.
Christ commanded us to show compassion and meet the needs as we see them, without expecting anything in return. “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” (1 John 3:17).
Ultimately, all of our resources belong to God. We are just stewards of the assets He has entrusted us with. If we cannot be trusted to manage a small amount of money wisely, then why would God trust us with much? Jesus said, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” (Luke 16:10).
Time and Tithe
There is a lot written regarding the rules of tithing and the amount we are supposed to tithe.
Historically, there have been many discussions about whether the Bible intends for us to give ten percent of our gross income or ten percent of our net income. I’ve also read articles discussing whether it’s considered “stealing from God” to split your ten percent tithe between the church and other charities.
Another common debate is whether or not acts of service count as a tithe.
Honestly, I believe that how you spend both your money and your time is between you and God.
Tithing is supposed to be a form of worship to God and a service to the body of Christ. If we focus too much on the rules of giving, we may become more focused on legalism rather than faith.
At times, God may encourage you to give to a special situation, or an urgent need of someone in the body of Christ. As a result, you may give more than ten percent of your income. This is called an offering. It’s money that you give over and above your ten percent tithe to the church.
Then there may be extenuating circumstances during certain seasons of your life, which may mean giving less or not at all. Instead, you’ll be the recipient of gifts and offerings from others as you handle an unforeseen crisis in your own life.
A friend of mine went through a medical crisis a few years ago that put a large financial strain on her family. Her husband had been laid off from his job for several months, and then she was unexpectedly diagnosed with breast cancer.
Although they had always tithed faithfully, during this crisis there was no way for them to tithe.
Instead, they relied on God and His people to provide for their needs, and their faith was encouraged as they saw many people give sacrificially, to help them in their time of need.
You may be surprised to hear this, but God does not need your money. He is the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, after all.
Instead, He deeply desires a relationship with you and your heart. He wants you to be content with what you have and to give without compulsion.
As we learn to give generously, we will also become more content, regardless of the circumstances around us.
This contentment is only found in Christ.
Contentment does not mean complacency. True contentment occurs when we’re not using material goods, exotic vacations, or entertainment to try to fill a void in our hearts.
If I’m honest, I’m guilty of this mindset more often that I’d like to admit. I often think that if I just get one vacation away from the daily grind of being a busy working mom, then I’ll be refreshed and ready to take on the world.
I somehow think a special vacation and “me time” will fulfill me and make my life better. But you know what happens? The vacation always ends and I return back to reality.
Please know that I’m speaking to myself, more than anyone else.
We must find a way to be content in our own circumstances and focused on the needs of others. I think this is how God designed us to live, but we’ve gone astray. We must repent and ask Him to redirect us. We live in the most marketed-to-society in history. We’re being sold discontentment in the form of stuff and experiences every day.
I personally want to change my mindset to focus primarily on the needs of others, rather than my own selfish desires for comfort and fun. I want to leave a legacy of being content in my circumstances, and generous to those in need. What type of legacy do you want to leave to those who come behind you?
A Plan for Giving
Let’s talk about how to set up a plan for giving systematically, so it’s a regular part of your budget to tithe and give to those in need. I believe it will become a true joy in your life if you’re faithful to give to God’s church and His people regularly.
Choose to tithe not out of fear, guilt, or legalism, but because you love God. As believers in Christ, we’re called to honor and trust Him, even if He doesn’t do anything for us in return. He does not owe us anything. The focus of tithing isn’t money, but rather the condition of our hearts.
Be brave when you receive your next paycheck. Take ten percent off the top and ask God to bless your tithe to the benefit of His kingdom.
To take it one step further, consider automating your charitable giving and tithing by setting up automatic transfers from your checking account or debit card each month.
Then expect God to show up. Wait and see if the rest of your bills still get paid. Prayerfully ask yourself, “Do I have more trust in my savings account than I do in God?”
If tithing doesn’t appear to fit into your current budget, please don’t be dismayed.
I challenge you to try it anyway.
Most people who tithe will tell you, “I don’t know how it happens—it just does. Bottom line—tithing has less to do with my money and more to do with my faith.”
My prayer for you, my friend, is that you will have more faith and less fear in your life when you learn that God really does take care of us, no matter what.
He knows every detail regarding the circumstances of your life.
Rest in the fact that God is in control.
Emily G. Stroud currently lives in a farmhouse on 8 acres just outside of Fort Worth, Texas. She is a wife, mom, sister, friend, financial advisor, and now author of Faithful Finance: 10 Secrets to Move from Fearful Insecurity to Confident Control. She also owns and manages a boutique investment firm called Stroud Financial Management, Inc.
Many of us feel overwhelmed and ill-equipped to deal with our personal finances. We wonder if we will ever experience financial freedom. We want to make wise decisions and spend money on what matters, but we just don’t know how. In Faithful Finance Emily comes alongside you to help. Emily feels God has called her to teach people how to manage their personal finances so they can live a more fruitful and peaceful life. Most importantly, she wants to point her readers toward Jesus, the only true hope and source of security in this life.
Presented in a conversational style, this practical guide offers ten life-changing secrets that work in every financial situation, for every income level, at every stage of life. With engaging stories and practical examples, Emily empowers you to make choices that will allow you and your loved ones to enjoy financial freedom for years to come.
[ Our humble thanks to Zondervan for their partnership in today’s devotion ]