There is a fine balance to how we should handle our finances. Matthew 6:24 tells us: "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." So we can't love money and be consumed by it, "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil." 1 Timothy 6:10, but we need to spend enough time thinking about it and talking about it that we help take care of God's church. Both the physical church and the people in it.
Listen to to what the Lord says in Malachi 3:9-10 "'You are under a curse-the whole nation of you-because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,' says the Lord Almighty, 'and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.'" Wow! The whole nation was under a curse because they weren't tithing.
So what is a tithe anyway? A tithe is 10% of your income. Now Proverbs tells us that we should "Honor the Lord with our wealth, with the firstfruits of all our crops," so I've made our tithe to the church the first item on my budget and and give 10% of our gross income. Paul shares this guideline in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 "Now about the collection for God's people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income..."
Well, let's say we've been great stewards of the money God has given us and we live well within our means. Should we only give 10% to God? Not at all! Giving an offering above our 10% tithe is what we should all strive for. Everything we have is the Lord's, so should we not use our wealth to bless others?
My husband and I get so excited when we receive back our tax return each year, because technically we've already tithed on this money since I tithe on our gross income, so it gives us extra money that we then take 10% of to use as an offering to the Lord. In this we can help our church in special ways or help a family that we may see in need. Seth and I both have a gift of giving, so the act of sharing or income with others brings us great joy.
Now for some, it is hard to fathom taking 10% of your income and giving it the church when you have mountains of bills to pay. For anyone in this situation, I invite you to check out Dave Ramsey's Book, "The Total Money Makeover." This book has helped us prepare and survive after I quit work to be a stay-at-home mom. Even with a huge cut in pay, God still gets our first fruits.
For more information about budgeting, please check out the "Get Life in Balance" series under Organization.