Sunday, August 2, 2015

Tithing . . .

My friend, Michelle, asked me to remember an Old Testament Bible verse, Malachi 3:10, which is the verse that talks about tithing - the practice of giving 10% of one's harvest/income to the church.

Tithing of money isn't something that I have ever done, and it's not something I could do now without a radical change in everything about my life. I'm not saying this is right or wrong - it just is what it is.  It was hard to reduce my pledge - contrary to my last post, where I joked about the initial reductions not being all that painful thus far, it was very hard for me to reduce the money I give to the church each month.  It was embarrassing and I felt/feel a great deal of shame about it (let me clear that I was not shamed by our minister nor by the financial secretary (the people I had to inform about the change) this was my own shame that I wasn't able to fulfill my pledge). 

I could cut every "luxury" and still not even be close to the amount needed to tithe.  Without selling my home, my car, my pipes, and anything else of value that I have, I could not hope to consistently tithe, and even if I did do those things, I probably couldn't tithe then either, and I would be left with nothing and no transportation, and then no one would get anything. 

In the Presbyterian Church we call it Stewardship, and it's about time, talents, and treasure.  It's not just about treasure (money), there is more to it. A pledge is a faith commitment, not a promissory note, and I had faith that I would be able to give the amount I pledged.  But I can't any longer.  I believe that the monetary amount I am able to give each month is supplemented by the time I give or have given to speak to the PW Group when they invite me, to share in fellowship with my friends there, to lend my prayers and support where I can, to attend choir rehearsals and to sing in the choir on Sundays, and to play my pipes on Reformation Sunday (although probably not this year . . . ). In the past I've led Church Lady Knitting (for many years) and been a member of the Communications Committee.  I'm an ordained deacon.  Granted, I don't do all of these things all the time - but Stewardship is about more than just money - my time and my musical talent are a big part of my 10%.

This is a good conversation - and it's different for everyone.   Thanks for bringing it up, Michelle  :-)  If you go to church, do you tithe?  If you are forced by circumstances to make changes, where do you cut when there is nowhere left to cut in order to make ends meet?  Do you saddle yourself with debt that multiplies by earning interest when you can't pay it to pay a faith commitment that is no longer possible for you?  Good conversation and hard questions.

7 comments:

Michelle said...

Dear friend, I wasn't trying to make you feel more guilty, just trying to remind you that God is FAITHFUL in pouring out blessings on those who honor and obey Him. :-)

Yes, stewardship is a way of living and involves how we treat ourselves (since our bodies are "the temples of God", 1 Corinthians 6:19)) and our entire planet (which Adam and Eve were originally made stewards of). Plus, I firmly believe the promise that if I return (not 'give') to God what He has asked for, He blesses the remainder in ways that humans cannot reconcile with a calculator. Regardless, for us it is a non-negotiable, since we wouldn't considering "robbing God" (Malachi 3:8); tithe and offering comes out first, before mortgage or ANYthing else.

Ely said...

I don't believe that spiritual value can be or should be measured in dollars and cents. Everyone has their opinion on this, but Jesus never turned away anyone based on their monetary value. Did he shun the woman who washed his feet with tears? Did he ask for money before feeding the 5000? It's up to you and your conversation with God to determine the value and expression of your tithe... If you've been led to give less money but give more in other ways, at the end of the day you're still a cherished and valued child of God.

A :-) said...

See - interesting topic - very hard questions - and it's different for each one of us. Thanks for weighing in you guys :-)

Darth Knitter said...

Tithing is a command for followers of Christ, and while it's admirable and I believe, necessary to give of our time and talents, I personally do not believe those are a substitute of giving 10% of our income - the first fruits back to God. That being said, there are some grey areas - is it 10% of our gross income, or 10% of our net? Do we tithe on money received in tax refunds when presumably we tithed on the income to begin with? These are the questions that everyone has to answer for themselves, and personally, I've seen friends and family grow in the grace of tithing. While a tithe does mean a literal 10%, which is a very small amount that He asks us to be faithful to return to Him, people who don't feel that they can give that much may start with 5% or another number. God says to test Him in this and see if He won't be faithful, and Paul says in Philippians 4:19 that "My God shall supply all my need, according to His riches . . ." What we've found personally is that you can't outgive God. I am confident that Robert and I would cancel our TV, internet, and cell phone service, among other things, if something happened with our finances so that we could not give our tithe faithfully.

In addition to the tithe, though, there are "offerings." That's anything above the 10%, such as donations for special missions projects, or other church-sponsored events, and that's also where our time and talents come into play. Thus, singing in the choir and playing in the orchestra to help lead worship, and leading a Sunday School class - that's part of our offerings as well.

Stewardship is recognizing that all that we have comes from God; we are merely caretakers or stewards. To whom much is given; much is required.

A :-) said...

Yup, different for everyone.

Darth Knitter said...

For Christians, the only thing that differs is whether or not we are obedient. :-)

A :-) said...

Like I said, different for everyone