The Starting Place
Come and sit with me at a dining-room table in San Luis Obispo. It’s years ago: I’m about to turn five years old, and my parents have seated me here to introduce something that will affect my future more than I would have been able to imagine. They’re both radiating the kind of happiness you’d expect when parents know they’re escorting their child into a new time in his life.
As I’m seated, my dad brings out a small handful of change. Young Jack Hayford—man of the world—is about to receive two things: 1) his first allowance and 2) his first lesson in money management.
I can still remember it well.
What was true at age five would be true for years to come.
To earn my allowance, certain daily chores and weekly responsibilities around the house framed my agenda. But this memorable moment was “Payday #1.” Daddy sat beside me, with Mamma across the table. Because of the lesson he was ready to teach, instead of giving me a dime, he put a nickel and five pennies in front of me.
It’s hard to describe the good feeling I remember. Nothing was heavy, oppressive, or suffocatingly religious about what followed. The lesson was clear and concise as my dad taught me what the Bible says about tithing. I learned that day
– that tithe means “a tenth” (Gen. 28:22),
– that the Lord claims the tithe as His (Lev. 27:30),
– that obedience in tithing carries a promise (Mal. 3:10).
He explained it in such a way that it became clear to a little boy. Then, almost like a happy game, and with the healthy attitude of obedience and joy that characterized the way my folks talked about God, Daddy said, “Now, son, from what I have just shown you, what part of this ten cents is the Lord’s?”
I took a penny and answered, “This is the Lord’s.”
“That’s right, son,” he replied. “Now, what do you want to do with it?”
“I can give it when it’s offering time at Sunday school.”
As they smiled their approval, Mamma added, “Jack, this isn’t just for today. This is for always, so you remember that. This is the way we live as a family, and we want you to learn to live that way, too. Okay?”
And I said, “Okay, Mamma.”
And I have, and I do.
As a result of parental teaching and provable evidence of God’s blessing on this practice of obedience to His Word, there’s not a dime or a dollar I have received in my life that I haven’t tithed on.
“Still Only a Penny”
Years later, after Anna and I were married, we were approaching our first Christmas together. While finishing our college education, we were both working at the same business establishment in Los Angeles.
Each year the Christmas bonus was an entire month’s salary, given in addition to our regular paychecks. It was, of course, a very marvelous and generous gift, and this year, as we received our combined gifts, we suddenly became one thousand dollars richer!
I remember sitting at the kitchen table with all of that money, getting ready to pay our bills. As we computed our tithe, for the first time in my life I was stopped in my tracks—hesitating to write the check. As I sat at the table, on the brink of writing a three-digit check of giving to the Lord for the first time, a funny thing happened to me.
Something choked inside me.
As I prepared to write the check, it suddenly seemed like such a large amount of money! I winced, feeling guilty for the possessiveness that was seeking a place in my heart. But it didn’t survive for long, because almost as soon as the thought tempted me, the Lord spoke, “Child, it’s still only a penny on every dime!”
I laughed, both to and at myself.
“Amen, Lord. The ‘huge’ tithe check isn’t any more than that first penny on my first allowance!”
It’s in the context of incidents like these that I have learned a pattern of tithing that has brought blessing to my whole life. I want to share this truth—freely, boldly—and for that reason. I don’t believe for one minute that tithing buys God’s blessing. But I do believe that it opens a door—or better, a “window”—of release for God to bless continually and mightily.
From The Key to Everything © 1993 by Jack W. Hayford, All Rights Reserved. Published by Charisma House, A Strang Company, Lake Mary, FL. Used by permission.Order Now