At the time, I was only nineteen years old. I had just closed a deal on a bright red house located near a noisy highway. It was my intention to rent out the top half of the house and build an apartment in the basement.
Right after closing, I went to work building a wall that sealed off the back door from the kitchen. I placed a rental ad in the paper, and within a short period of time, I found a family who wanted to move into the top unit. During this time, I continued to work on the basement apartment. Everything was going great until the day I knocked on the front door to collect my tenant’s rent. When I asked for the money, the lady who answered the door said, “Because you are making so much noise in the basement, we’re not going to pay you.”
I was shocked. I needed their money to make my first mortgage payment. Not knowing what to say, I blurted out, “If you don’t pay me, I’m going to evict you.”
“Go ahead and evict us. It will take you six months to get us out of here!”
I stood on the front porch for a brief moment shocked and speechless, and then the lady slammed the door in my face. I was devastated. I had spent all my savings buying materials to work on the basement. I only had $287 to my name, and I needed $713 to make my first mortgage payment.
I didn’t have any friends who would loan me $500. I was too ashamed to ask my parents for help, because they didn’t want me buying the property in the first place. With nowhere else to turn, I surrendered the situation to the Lord and threw all my money in the church collection basket. My situation seemed so hopeless—why not give God a try?
After I gave all my money to God, things took a turn for the worse. My tenants called me later that afternoon and said, “You had better get down here right away! Your clothes dryer burned up all our laundry. Firemen broke down the front door. We are going to sue you for damages.”
I arrived right as the fire truck was pulling away. My harvest-yellow clothes dryer was sitting in the front yard. Only now it was harvest yellow and black, because of all the burn marks across the front. When I walked inside the house, my tenants were packing their belongings into boxes. “What’s going on now?” I asked.
“We’re moving,” they said.
The smoke damage inside the house was unbearable. All the doors and windows were open, but after being inside for only a brief moment, the terrible stench of burned plastic started making my eyes burn.
By the next day the tenants had completely vacated the property. I called my insurance company to see if they could reimburse me for the loss. After the adjuster calculated the costs to wash the walls and fix the front door, he said, “How does $2,800 sound?”
I was overjoyed and gratefully accepted his offer. About an hour later, another man knocked on the door and said, “Hi, my name is Don. I’m a public insurance adjuster. Can I talk with you about your claim?”
“You’re too late. I just settled about an hour ago.”
“Do you mind if I look at the figures?” Don said. “A lot of times I can help the insured get a better settlement.”
“Sure,” I said, handing him the paperwork.
“You settled too cheap,” Don said. “They paid you to wash the walls. They should have paid you to repaint all the walls. If you want, I can get you a better settlement.”
After looking over his contract, I realized there was nothing to lose. Don was only charging a ten percent commission on the additional funds that he collected, so I signed his agreement, and within a short period of time, he had acquired an additional $2,000.
Once again, I was overjoyed. After I had placed all my money into the church collection basket, God had successfully evicted the tenants and put $4,800 in my pocket. I was able to make my first mortgage payment and still had plenty of money left over.
After experiencing the miracle-working power of God, I started taking tithing a lot more seriously. I started giving ten percent of my income on all my business endeavors. The more I gave to God, the more he gave back to me. Soon I discovered the promise described in Malachi 3:8-10.
“Will anyone rob God? Yet you are robbing me! But you say, “How are we robbing you?” In your tithes and offerings! You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me—the whole nation of you! Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.”
After experiencing the power of this promise, I quickly realized that by giving to the Lord, I grew closer to him in several ways. First of all it helped me to learn obedience. As a disciple of Christ, it is my responsibility to advance God’s kingdom here on earth. It’s not possible to advance God’s kingdom when my life is consumed with greed, materialism, and the pursuit of money. Tithing helped me break the bondage of materialism and set my eternal perspective in the proper order.
Giving is an important part of any relationship. If I can’t give God a small percentage of my income, then the same sin of selfishness would also prevent me from laying down my life in complete surrender and obedience. When I give to the Lord, it helps deepen my love. When I give out of love and obedience, God is more empowered to open up the windows of heaven and pour upon me an overflowing blessing.