Pastor Perry Noble admitted that he withheld from giving his tithes to the church for nine years until he understood the meaning of Malachi 3:10, the biblical verse that commands Christians to tithe.
Noble took to his blog Sunday to admit that not giving his tithes caused him financial instability but explained that his future changed when he began trusting God with his money and began being generous.
"I did not tithe for the first nine years I followed Jesus…and I was always broke. I began to tithe in 1999 and the Lord has always provided what I need, when I need it," said Noble.
Malachi 3:10 states, "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it," which triggered Noble to "completely surrender" his finances.
Noble says his finances were "in shambles" and although he could trust God with his salvation, he could not trust Him with money, he explains.
"I once heard someone say that He is either Lord of all or He is not Lord at all. And it took me quite a few years to realize that this included my money as well … I realized I had tried to do it all on my own and was not being very successful. By the time I married Lucretia in April of 2000, we had over $100,000 in debt and didn't even own a home," said Noble in a separate blog post.
He added, "I remember the day I realized I was a slave to debt…and I didn't want to stay that way. So I made the decision to become a good steward of what the Lord had given me, get on a budget and make tough financial decisions," said Noble.
He emphasizes that "no one has ever prayed their way out of debt" but after sticking to his plan, he and his wife became debt free in 2006.
Now, Noble remains faithful with his giving partly because he believes 10 percent of his income needs to be given to the local church.
"There are some who argue they 'tithe' to schools, hospitals and parachurch organizations. I believe with all of my heart that Christians should be the most generous people on the planet and should be the first to financially support worthy causes. But I also believe Scripture is clear that the tithe should be brought to the local church," said Noble.
He added, "And, when the local church is working right there is nothing more powerful and breathtaking in the world because it's the place where lost people are found… and God gets the glory for it all."
While Noble likes giving money now, he also knows what it is like to have limited resources, with nothing to give.
"I know what it is like to pawn your high school ring for $50 so I could have money to live on…
I know what it is like to literally have no idea where the next meal is coming from … I know what it is like to have to depend on government assistance to survive… I have lived in complete rat holes and driven cars that were held together by prayer and duct tape," said Noble.
It is these experiences that have helped him remain generous, he explained. The act of giving has helped him be a devout follower of Christ and one that acknowledges that everything he has "comes from the hands of God."