Facets of Faith: Readers say give to God first

In the April 13 Facets of Faith, I presented two views of how Christians in financial trouble should handle paying their tithes.

One expert said to get out of debt first so that you can be more generous later. The other said that the tithe should always come first.

I asked what our readers thought. The early answers overwhelmingly have been that the tithe is first.

Tom Adams, a retired pastor in Denham Springs, said, “What we think is of minor importance. What the Manual (the Bible) says should be our guideline!”

He listed several verses, including Genesis 14:20, Leviticus 17:30 and Malachi 3:10, and finished by saying, “The truth is that those who keep the Lord’s tithe will not get to spend it: Instead, the doctor, dentist, auto-air conditioning-roofing repair people will get it (and they won’t get credit for it!).”

Grandmother’s lead

Frankie Dougherty, of Baker, echoed Adams’ final point, “I was raised by a godly grandmother who totally believed in tithing.

“She always said, ‘If you tithe, your finances would always come out better than if you didn’t tithe.’ And I can tell you from experience that it is definitely true. She said that the tenth is the Lord’s, and if you use it for yourself, you’re stealing God’s money. My husband and I have always tithed.”

Generosity

Keith Horcasitas, of Baton Rouge, said, “As a Catholic, we usually hear the word ‘stewardship’ ... I used to love when a late former pastor, Father Hilton Rivet, (another Jesuit like Pope Francis), would note, ‘We can never outdo God in generosity!’”

Horcasitas recommends Thomas Zordani as a resource on tithing and personal finance. “I have his great practical book, ‘Faith Finances.’ He has come to Baton Rouge a few times to guide individuals on mastering the three Biblical principles of financial success in eight steps.”

More than enough

Helen Marsh, of Baker, said that she became a Christian at age 12 and has always tithed.

While her husband was away on an aircraft carrier, she had a point where the car, sewing machine and vacuum cleaner all needed repair. She paid for the repairs, and as always, she wrote the tithe check first.

When she went to write the rent check, there wasn’t enough money. She prayed for help.

“The next morning, a girl from the clinic where I had worked called and asked if I could work a week. Her dad needed surgery. … I wound up working two weeks, but only needed one week to pay the rent.

“God has always taken care of us. We were not rich, but we always had whatever we needed.”

Struggles ceased

Debbie Pacas, of Baton Rouge, is another who found that putting God first helped in life.

“I did not tithe regularly for most of my life and continued to struggle financially. Then in 2002, I prayed to my Lord telling him that I was recommitting my WHOLE life to him. This included tithing on a regular bases, which meant I gave back to him BEFORE my bills.”

“It was a huge step of faith for me, because many times I had around $20 to last me for 2 weeks. ... I had to file bankruptcy in 2002, so obviously I was not handling my finances great anyway.”

Pacas said that during those years she did without things she wanted but not the things she needed. She also received promotions, which allowed her to quit a second job.

“I realized even to this day, I can NEVER outgive my Lord. When I surrendered every part of my life to him, he has blessed me beyond any measure I could possibly imagine.”

She said she marked the first decade of living her whole life for God by being debt free. Pacas said she has since married and that she and her husband continue being faithful with their finances, including things such as paying off credit cards every month, something several readers suggested.

“I give thanks to my Lord every day, for I know without a doubt that he is the one blessing me for being faithful to him. It does not mean I don’t have struggles. However I go through them with him. … I have learned that faith is my action of what I believe.

Early lesson

Joel Tingle, of Prairieville, said, “I am 74 years old and was born in a two-room log house in Franklin County, Miss. My dad was a minister. We moved a lot, never staying in one place more than one year.”

His father worked on housing remodels to support their large family. “When I was 9, I helped my dad work on a commercial roof job. I would unbuckle the bucket of tar as it was pulled up with a pully. I made 50 cents an hour and made $20. My mom made me pay $2 tithes and saved the $18 for me,” Tingle said.

Tingle said that he eventually used the saved money to buy a bicycle, which in turn allowed him to work more. He continued to tithe even though “I never believed my dad when he preached it’s better to give than to receive.”

He worked all the way through school, and his parents continued to hold the tithe for him. “In 1974, I read a book ‘Seed Faith.’ It talks about paying tithes on what you want God to bless you with. I gave $500 that Sunday a.m.”

That same day he discovered that a car he was trying to sell had been stolen. He said he felt the devil telling him he was stupid for giving.

“The next month, I said, ‘Devil you won last month, but this time I will give not to receive.’”

After giving generously again that month, he got his car back and was able to sell it, which led him to the think, “I should be giving 20 percent tithe instead of 10 percent,” Tingle said.

“God says to give 10 percent and he would bless us, but I think of it as seed. If a farmer fails to plant seed, he will not receive a crop.”

Tingle described how he was able to grow his business and said he continues to give 20 percent. “It definitely does pay to give to God.”

Tingle also suggests “‘People’ STOP buying things except what is necessary, stop going out, stop smoking.”