Thoughts on the Meaning of Life… Todd Helmkamp


Posted by Vogeler on October 22, 2008

Setting: A small room at a local community college.  Folding chairs are arranged in a semi-circle around a podium with a microphone.  People of various ages occupy the chairs as a young, obviously-nervous young man steps up to the microphone.

Nervous Young Man: *ahem* “Is this thing on?” *tap*  “Uh, my name is Todd, I’m an Evangelical Christian… and…uh….I don’t tithe regularly.”

Audience: “Hi, Todd.”

Since I became a Christian, nearly six years ago, I’ve struggled with tithing.  As a child, my parents gave something to their church every week, although I don’t know how much, so they set a good example for me. But when I got out on my own and was single, money was pretty tight (mostly because I spent it all on eating out and other frivolous stuff) so I rarely gave anything to the church, contenting myself with loads of time spent volunteering.  When I got married a little over two years ago, my wife and I agreed that we needed to tithe 10% every week.  And we did, faithfully, even though I wasn’t making much and we were partly living off my student loan checks (I was in college full-time while working).

When I was downsized this past April, we continued to tithe for a bit, but as things got worse and we got farther behind, I truly felt God telling me it was ok to pause for a while (yes, I still believe God really did give us a limited time away from tithing).  But now it’s been six months.  Part of my income is commision-based, which is not cool, as business has been really slow the past several months and we’ve been barely scraping by even without tithing.  Yet I have begun to feel that God wants us to start tithing again.

Which brings us to the point of this post.  I’m scared.  I’m really, truly frightened of beginning to tithe again.  We are in a financially precarious position (along with the rest of the world).  We do not have the money to tithe faithfully and pay our bills (none of which are frivolous.  I need high-speed internet for my computer business and our satellite is free for a year.  Everything else is a need).  I know in my head that God has cared for us in the past, and will continue to do so, but it hasn’t quite reached my heart.

I feel really called to help people take control of their finances; as many of my friends and family can tell, I am passionate to the point of being obnoxious about it.  We are so close to getting to the point where we have some things paid off and can start attacking our debt (we want to be debt-free in the next 10 years).  But I also know that I can’t truly minister to people to help them with their finances until I have surrendered mine to God’s hands.

This isn’t meant to be a whiny post, or an attempt to get pity.  I guess the only thing left to do is take the step of faith, trust that God knows what He’s doing, and let go.

And that’s the hard part.


6 Responses to “Honesty”

  1. Carma said

    I feel the same way with tithing. We give our 10% but in different ways. Some weeks we may help out a friend, etc. We “tithe” but not in the way most do. I do feel God tugging on my heart and I have been trying, but when it’s hard to just get by on what you got, seeing that 10% go into the offering plate instead of paying off a bill is tough. I like what you said: “I know in my head that God has cared for us in the past, and will continue to do so, but it hasn’t quite reached my heart.” You put into words what I have been trying to “fess” up to for some time now.

  2. slw said

    Thanks for an honest, vulnerable post. I really liked the play on an AA meeting. 😉

    I understand your dilemna, and let me say first, you are under no obligation biblically to tithe. You are to be a giver and a responder to need, but that is a derivation of the purpose of your heart and the need you come across. The law is not a principle the NT saint can even begin to operate under (see Galatians 3 and 4), so don’t drink that koolaid! It sounds as if the Spirit of God may be challenging you with tithing, which, if you’re sure it’s the Spirit of God and not guilt, is something you should respond to.

    We gain no standing with, nor power over God by tithing, or by any kind of giving (or doing) for that matter. It’s grace not works. We give because we know who God is, what he is capable of doing, we know what he’s promised concerning us. We let it go knowing God’s in charge and he’ll carry us through. We give because God affords us the opportunity to be like him.

    If you can keep those principles in mind and still believe the Spirit of God is directing you to tithe, start where you can and work towards your tithing goal. Let’s say you can see affording 2% right now. Stretch your faith, let’s say to 3%, and purpose in your heart to trust God’s blessing to do that much. As your survive and see God’s blessing as you give the 3%, in two or three months or so, stretch again and let the Spirit expand your concept of the possible and ratchet up again. I’d wager, you’ll be tithing (and maybe more) before long with this approach.

    The most important thing: don’t let guilt rule your heart and an inability to tithe now keep you from pursuing the course of a giver. God does indeed love a cheerful giver. Sorry for so much unsolicited advice; what can I say, it’s the pastor in me.

  3. @Carma: Glad I could help. 🙂

    @SLW: I went to a few AA meetings when alcohol ruled my life (they saved my life, too, by the way), so I kinda knew how to put it.

    I appreciate your thoughts on tithing. I hadn’t really formed an opinion on whether or not the 10% rule carried over under the New Covenant (I was leaning toward “no”), but God has been directing me to give money, especially because it’s a stumbling block for me. And don’t apologize for the advice! Advice given freely with wisdom is a gift!

  4. Plaese please please do not be afraid of being cursed for not tihitng. Jesus ended the curse of the law per Galatians 3:13.

    Tithing is never given to the church and has been replaced by much better principles: freewill, sacrificial, generous, joyful, not by commandment or percentage and motivated by love for God and lost souls.

    Many can and should give more than 10%. However that does meant that those who cannot give that much are cursed. See 2nd Cor 8:12-15.

    See my site for over 150 articles.

  5. Kelly said

    Tithing has always been very important to me, and I was very happy to discover that it’s important to Josh too. It’s a priority for us, (but that’s just us) and God has always gotten us through the rough patches. Some weeks we can’t give the 10%, so we give what we can, and other weeks we’re able to give more than 10%. I agree with SLW-give what you’re able, even if it’s 5 dollars. I believe you’ll see God move in incredible ways in your finances.

  6. Thank you everyone for your insightful comments and advice. I’ll keep you posted as I follow God’s lead in this matter!

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