For non-churchy folks, the idea of tithing can be a bit mysterious. When non-Belivers encounter 'tithing' and 'giving' in American Pop Culture, it is likely in from of Prosperity Gospel Preachers like Joel Osteen or Creflo Dollar. I, like many other Evangelicals, reject the teachings of the Prosperity Gospel, which can be briefly summarized as: "IF you are a Good Christian, AND you give me your money, THEN God will give you Even More Money! (The built-in correlative is that if you aren't rich, then it follows you aren't a "good Christian" - only poor people are sinners). I'd like to take a moment to provide an example of how tithing and giving works in my family, which I believe is built upon a Godly model.
Today my employer announced all employees would be receiving 3 months of "Healthcare Premium Holidays". The premium holidays are months where we don't have to pay our insurance premiums for that month, because the past year's expenditures for our Employee Healthcare Plan were much lower than expected, and the surplus is then returned to us in the form of the premium holiday. Basically, we get extra money in our paychecks for 3 months.
Believers are commanded to "give of our means". For my family, we have determined we can afford to give 10% off the top of all wages we receive. This is our tithe, which we monthly give to our local church to support the various ministries of Southview Baptist, provide salary to church staff, provide for the maintenance needs of our church building, ect. The Bible also encourages Believers to "give gifts", and these are interpreted as being above and beyond the "required" tithe. There is no requirement that the "gifts" be given to the church, the giver can give them to whomever they wish. This 3 month healthcare premium holiday equates to almost $1000 in extra money, which our family didn't expect, which due to God's blessings we don't have an emergent need for, because we attempt to steward our normal monthly budget prudently. These funds are prime material for gift giving.
At least 10% of that $1000 worth of Free Money, perhaps more if God wills, will be given away to someone else. It is truly an awesome feeling to know that I will be the instrument that God uses to help someone who is in duress. I have no idea who God will put in my path in the next few months who will have a need that my family, in obedience, can fill. But I am certain that He will. This is How We Love Others. This is a way anyone's family can emulate Jesus. Join us!
EDIT: 8/16/15 - God did indeed put a person in need before us. Sarah and I are very thankful that we could use some of the 'extra' God gave us, something we didn't 'need', to bless someone else that very much did need it.