I can still remember exactly where I was standing in the middle of that field when He dropped it on my heart.
I was in my secret place (that wasn’t really that secret). It was technically a construction site for an upcoming phase in our subdivision high up on a hill.
For whatever reason development had been put on hold and this cleared 5-acre piece of beautiful land had become a little overgrown.
Because it was high up on a hill – a plateau of sorts – it was a pretty secluded area that I could go and think and pray. It was God’s treat to me and I wish I had spent more time there before they put houses all over it, but I digress…
About 6 years ago one winter day when it had warmed up to about 55 degrees, I went to the field and was telling God about some of the big financial goals that I was hoping for in my future.
And though it wasn’t an audible voice, He communicated as clear as could be to me that if we wanted to see those things come to pass we should begin giving our AGE as a percentage of our income.
At the time we were consistently tithing (10%) and giving probably 5% on top of that to various charities and ministries near and dear to our hearts. Since I was 31 at the time, giving 31% of our income represented a huge jump in our giving.
Our blog business had been doing pretty well at the time and because we had been budgeting for giving, we actually were able to give ~15% of our income pretty comfortably. Doubling it to 31% on the other hand? Not the same story. It required a big leap of faith.
Side note: I just need to interject that budgeting for giving was by far the biggest game-changer for us to fully ENJOY giving. We had always gotten joy from it, but when we added that budget category it created a practical shift to a spiritual truth (that it wasn’t actually OUR money) and made it so much easier to give. We were no longer deciding whether to use this $100 to buy shoes or give it. It was in a separate category and it wasn’t ours anymore.
A faith test
The first half of Hebrews 11:6 can be a little scary…
“And without faith it is impossible to please God…”
But, the inverse is really encouraging. God is pleased when we step out in faith. My assumption is that this especially applies to things that He instructs us to do. This was critically helpful for us as we began giving our age as a percentage of our earnings.
I knew that I wasn’t making this up in my head. I had seen God work miraculously in our finances multiple times as we consistently tithed over the years. I knew that we could NOT outgive God. I knew that as we stretched our faith in giving, more was going to come back to us and the cycle would just continue.
RG LeTourneau was a Christian businessman and inventor in the early-mid 20th century who spent many years reverse tithing (giving 90% of his income and living off 10%) and he has this great quote I love:
Lest you think I am boasting
Honestly, one of my greatest fears is to be misunderstood. Which is pretty hilarious because I share my thoughts and ideas on the internet for a living. I mean, good luck posting that 2+2=4 on Facebook and have someone NOT claim that it is a political statement. That is just the world we live in. Being misunderstood is part of 21st-century life.
And for 6 years I have wanted to share this idea publicly, but I have held back because I was afraid it might be misinterpreted as boasting or violating Matthew 6:2-4:
“So when you give to the needy, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be praised by men. Truly I tell you, they already have their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
But recently, God has been making it clear to me that part of my calling is to encourage people (like you) in this area. Additionally, that trying to get attention and applause as you give a gift is a very different thing than encouraging believers with testimonies of His goodness.
It is a matter of the heart for sure.
My heart’s desire to share this as an encouragement and because I know for some of you it will inspire your faith. And even if giving your age is a stretch at the moment, I know some reading this will think to themselves “maybe I can’t do that right now, but surely I could _____”
And that is the goal.
Why we do this
Some people don’t get why we do this. That’s okay.
Even if it weren’t out of obedience to God, we have a passion to use what He has given us to help further His plans. I may not be a preacher or evangelist, but if I can use what God has given me – a little extra money – to help spread the gospel and send more people to heaven, sign me up!
I’d much rather do that than be able to bathe in my money like Scrooge McDuck. 😉
Not surprisingly as we keep stretching in our giving, He continues to take care of all of our needs and provides many wants as well.
Matthew 6:33 says it well:
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Where we are today
By the grace of God we have been able to continue giving our age over the last 6 years and are currently at 37%. Some years have been tougher than others to pull off, but I have no plans of stopping now.
And I have confidence that God will continue to provide all our needs according to His riches in glory (Phil 4:19). My hope is that someday soon we will be able to reach that 90/10 reversal that many others with the gift of giving have reached.
What I learned
Recently I started playing a game called Minecraft with my 4-year-old son.
First off, the game is really old and is way past its prime, but what I love about it is that it is one of the few games that is clean enough for my 4-year-old to play.
In it, the world is a simplified version of our world where if you want to build a house, you cut down a tree. If you want light, you build a fire (or torch). And if you want food to grow, you plant seeds. And in its simplicity, you quickly realize that if you want to have a big garden you just need to keep planting more and more seeds.
When they mature, you reap your harvest – which provides you food and more seeds. And then you just keep planting seeds and very quickly you have an abundance – way more than you need to survive.
We all know this, don’t we?
This is common sense and I think we all know this subconsciously, but as a society where most of us have never had to plant seeds, I feel like we miss the depth of this revelation. And the simplicity of it as well.
If you want more of something, you plant seeds.
In a nutshell, that is how I have felt about our financial journey the last 10 years. We have just continued to turn as much of our income as possible into seeds (by giving) and as we have it has just seemed to grow. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been that simple.
“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” – Gen 8:22
Like so many other Biblical principles, it seems counter-intuitive and requires FAITH – and that is exactly where God likes to work.
Does this resonate with you?
I happen to know that lots of our readers share this desire to give beyond 10% and some are probably at the 90% (reverse tithing) mark.
I think they would agree and say that if this is a desire of your heart to be used this way, start giving what you have – just start planting seeds.
The woman who only had two widows mites (Luke 21:1-4) to give is still being talked about thousands of years later because of her willingness NOT to despise the smallness of what she had to offer and to give what she had in faith.
It cost her something.
It hurt a little.
This is why I have learned that it is better when I give and it is uncomfortable, rather than waiting for the next raise to come around or the next bonus. It seems that something is activated when we step out in faith this way.
Regardless of where you are on your giving journey…
Let me ask you, what would happen if you planted a few more seeds this month?