I am very thankful for the spiritual training I received as a child. My parents taught me very early to read my Bible and pray. In Sunday School and Church Training (OK, I just dated myself), these two spiritual disciplines, as well as other very important disciplines, were taught, lived, and reinforced over and over again in my life.

Spiritual disciplines were never presented as a means to salvation, but were seen as the fruit of salvation. This is a proper perspective. As Christians, we must never let anything cloud the effect of the Gospel in our lives. We are saved by grace through faith. The practice of spiritual disciplines benefits our lives, but is not a means of grace. We pray, study our Bible, witness, and tithe as acts of obedience because of our great love for the Savior, not to attract His love.

One of those disciplines I was taught very early was tithing. I am filled with gratitude to my parents, pastor, and teachers for teaching me to tithe through the Word and through deed. Tithing was taught, not as a law to follow, but as a spiritual discipline that would bring great benefit to my life and glory to the Lord I serve.

Some would say that my parents and spiritual leaders were wrong about tithing. Good and godly biblical students disagree on the subject of tithing. There are those who believe that tithing is an Old Testament concept and need not be practiced by New Testament Christians. I do not condemn those who take this position, I just disagree.

I have a simple approach. If tithing is a law, then those of us under grace should joyfully exceed the law. So if you believe in grace giving, let your grace overflow.

Tithing is more for the individual than for the church. While our tithes help support the work of ministry through the church, in truth we need the tithe as a clear reminder of who owns everything. When we are saved by the amazing grace of God, we are bought with the price of His blood and we are no longer our own. We become slaves who serve the Owner. The tithe is a 10 percent reminder of who owns the 100 percent!

Through the years, tithing has kept our family focused on the work of the Lord and served as an antidote to greed. Once we learned to tithe, we discovered giving beyond the tithe became easier.

Tithing has brought great joy through the years. While I often must mail my tithe because of travel, there is great pleasure when I get to place the tithe in the offering plate as an act of worship. Joy and satisfaction come through giving. The tithe fills our hearts with thanksgiving because we know it is the first fruits of all the Lord has provided for our family.

Because our church gives through the Cooperative Program, we are regularly involved in advancing the work of the Kingdom through our local church in the community, state, nation, and world. Tithing has brought a Kingdom perspective to our family.

I challenge you to consider a step of faith as the new year begins. By faith, begin the practice of tithing your income. It is a spiritual discipline that will bring blessing to you and glory to your Lord.