The Joy of Tithing
Christianity can be confusing, but a few directives come through loud and clear: Love others as you love yourself, love yourself as you love others, and give generously to the community around you through your tithe.
We’ve grown used to using the word “tithe” to refer to whatever portion we choose to give the church, but a tithe is technically one tenth, and giving one tenth of our income to the church and charity has been a goal of mine for years. My husband and I finally achieved that goal three years ago, and we couldn’t be happier.
It wasn’t easy. Like everyone, we have holes in our budget and many things we genuinely need to save for–on top of the unexpected fallen tree or busted oven. I knew tithing would be “good for us,” like spinach, but setting aside one tenth of our income has given us peace of mind that goes well beyond the financial.
The truth is, even my pared down attempts to walk in Christ’s footsteps regularly fail. It’s hard to love everyone all the time, even harder to silence that critical voice in my head. Compared to these goals, tithing is easy—and fun!
After letting automatic deposit whisk ten percent out of sight and out of mind, we use our tithing fund to give to St. Mary’s and allow another portion to build up until we feel moved. Even though we are always robbing Peter to pay Paul, we have managed to keep the tithe fund sacred and untouched for three years. This has allowed us to say “yes” when the spirit moves us—which is great fun—and the act of giving has helped us relax about our finances as a whole. For years, we were afraid to tithe. We told ourselves resources were scarce and had to be guarded zealously. Giving more has helped us live in a state of abundance and gratitude that has unexpectedly—and abundantly—spilled over into other areas of our lives.
I know you don’t believe me. You’re thinking we have more money than you do, or fewer needs, or maybe we’re just a little deluded. But I promise you, tithing is not painful; it is joyful and it feeds our souls in surprising and wonderful ways.
So why not give it a try? Set aside a true tithe for the first six months of this year, keeping some in a private discretionary fund to give freely when the spirit moves you. Six months! Some of us dedicate ourselves to sports seasons longer than that! I promise you, the returns from giving with a joyful heart and knowing your gift is doing wonderful things is like watching your team win the Super Bowl every single game…or actually, it’s like being a quarterback who throws the winning touchdown over and over again–every time you have the opportunity to write a check for someone in need. Try setting aside ten percent this year, and start practicing your Lambeau Leap!