My dad was vocal about one thing when it came to money. The first 10% went to the Lord. A wise man who has handled money well and enjoys a debt-free life, he made it very clear that earning a paycheck is by the grace of God, and God deserves a thank-you by way of the cream off the top.
But that wasn’t all. Mom and dad have written hefty checks, without fail, to send missionaries around the world every year. They have helped kids get to camp. They have been generous in appreciation of their pastor. And more.
I watched them.
Then when it came my turn to have a checkbook, my husband I racked up school debt, which led to credit card debt and car payments. It wasn’t pretty. For years we worked like crazy to get debt free, a financial situation we have enjoyed for several years now.
But along the way, clawing our way out of the red, one thing never changed. We always gave the first 10% of every paycheck to the work of the Lord. We gave to support missionaries, too. We gave in a few other ways.
It didn’t make sense.
I would look at the deficit and look at that healthy little chunk on our budget, underneath the words “KINGDOM WORK”. (I made those letters a bigger font on the page of the budget, capitalized and in bold.) My toes would stand at that imaginary line on the budget and peak over to where the money was going to the Lord.
All that money would sure make a nice car payment. Buy a month of groceries. Take care of a credit card payment.
But I always talked myself back away from the edge, dad’s voice echoing from behind me, That’s God’s money. No matter what, he deserves that first cream off the top.
There were days, weeks in a row, when I literally cried before God to help us get out of debt, and I trusted him. To keep writing a check to our local church was proof that I was leaning on God to provide for us.
This last year has been tough. I lost my job at the beginning of the year, and we had to dig into savings. I took a pair of scissors to the budget and cut out the fluff. Still there were those numbers below the line, a healthy chunk going to the Lord’s work in our church and community and around the world.
We never touched it in all those months of me being unemployed.
We just kept writing the checks and trusting. I got close to that edge again a few times, but the kingdom giving held its ground.
Now here I am employed again, thank the Lord. There’s money to live on, and the first thing we did after I got a paycheck was to slip something new under the KINGDOM WORK line. Her name is Haydy, a Compassion Child. My hope is that slowly the numbers under that line will begin to outweigh the numbers above it—more money going for the Lord’s work than we need to live on. This is the one way I hope to live like the Amish—always sharing what I have.
I encourage you to do the ridiculous. Draw that kingdom line in your budget. (Please tell me you’ve made a budget!) Honor God first, then trust him to help you steward the money that’s left over.
May he help you get out of debt, all for the glory of his kingdom.