I am discontent with tithing. I do not tithe. Lord, I want to tithe! I say I trust God. I say I love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I say I love my neighbor as myself. But if I am unwilling or unable to part with ten percent of my income to support His church, am I really trusting God, loving God, and loving my neighbor?
This Discover the Path Personal Workbook has really pushed me. Christ Church’s renewed vision of Stewardship as a means of whole-life discipleship has really turned my understanding (and my commitment) on its head. Over these six weeks, we are looking at the stewardship of our time, talents, gifts, and service through five key tools—prayers, presence, giving, service, and witness. This week, we are examining giving.
I hear your groan.
Yes, I know…
But as disciples, giving and the sharing of our gifts, cannot be ignored. We hate the ‘money’ sermons; we hate it when people ask us to give (or give more); we hate it when spirituality is equated with money. But the bottom line is—your treasure is where your heart is. And if we get so riled up, angry, frustrated, hurt, guilty, or otherwise emotional around it—maybe we better pay closer attention to it. It just may be a place that God needs to work on us.
For me, it’s tithing. Tithing is 10% to the church. Period. I may be giving 3%, but that doesn’t make me a tither. Only one time in my life I was able to tithe. I was single, loaded in debt, and had no one to answer to or be responsible for other than myself. I am in a very different place now.
In moving to Kentucky, my family was hit pretty hard financially. Selling a house nearly broke us. Buying a house was challenging. Moving and getting our house set up drained us. Shoulder surgery, braces for Kenzie, car wreck…and then taxes. We were nailed on taxes beyond our imagination that forced us to change our lifestyle tremendously—no more cable tv, no more YMCA membership, no more eating out, cutting back on entertainment, etc.—until we get caught up.
There were a few things we were unwilling to cut back on: family vacation; kids’ summer camp; college savings; activities for the kids to make friends like sports and clubs; and, most of all—our giving to the church! That is one thing I am really proud of. We were able to make all the difficult budgetary adjustments so that we would not have to lower our giving—even if it was at 3%, at least we were committed to that!
But…I want to be a tither!
I want to demonstrate to myself and to God that I am not dependent on my stuff, my plans, my money or my resources for peace and security. I want to have MORE faith in God than I do in MYSELF. If I don’t become a tither, I can’t prove it. And I want to be living proof.
The quote in the workbook by C.S. Lewis really captured me, “The only safe rule is to
give more than we can spare. If our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc. is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them.”
Is my giving pinching me? Am I giving up things in order to give away things?
As I wrestle with being pinched, the conversation I want to have with my family is how can we move toward tithing? Even if it takes years, how can we be focused on that being our goal?
Here is what I am thinking right now: I want to bump our giving in 2015 from 3% to 5%. Then increase it by 1% every year until we are at a tithe.
For years, the tithe has been nagging in my spiritual life as something that needed attention. I have avoided it, justified it, fretted over it, thought about it, studied it, discussed it, taught it, and dreamt about it. Now it is time to do something about it.
Thank you, Lord… I think…