Tithe Definition from Dictionary.com:
titheâ€‚ â€‚[tahyth] noun, verb, tithed, tith·ing.
I like to spread the wealth
While at year-end when I do taxes, I see that I haven’t given close to 10% of our income (pre- or post-tax) to charity, I think we’re doing pretty darn good. And each year we give out more and more. But I don’t like to just give to one place. I like to give to my church, to animal shelters, to rebuilding efforts, and also to friends and family (discussed in a bit).
I have a friend who insists he is a good Christian because he tithes 10% of his income before spending on anything. Good for him. However, I also know about his financial situation outside of his charitable donations and I also know about his charitable WORK because he’s told me directly…
It’s not all about the money
This friend of mine thinks that he’s following “the law” and giving his money, so he’s saved (well, in addition to going to church and not swearing or drinking. That’s about it in his mind). But let’s focus on “the law”. It’s great to give up a good chunk of your pay to your church, or anywhere, but to me, giving away money is the easy part. I want to know WHAT ARE YOU DOING for your fellow man? I’m a leader in a charitable organization associated with our church, and in that capacity, just this year, I’ve spent over 100 hours of my time rebuilding a home for a needy woman, unloading and selling hundreds of Christmas trees for our church, running charity dinners and more. When a neighbor asked for help to disassemble a weight machine and deliver it to a local Hispanic shelter for their gym, I was right on board. I even stayed overtime to put it all back together, although I crushed my hands in the process.
While I don’t like leading, when someone asks or I see someone in need, I will jump in. Recently another neighbor’s church adopted a family. They were calling for toys for the kids, but what the family needed most was rent money. I contributed 25% of their large rent bill and got the fellow neighbors to kick in for the rest. The kids got toys for Christmas, but more importantly, the family didn’t get evicted (for at least one more month).
So my question is when it’s time for action, what do you do? Are you the type to just throw money at it and walk away or do you jump in and see how you can do more? It’s not just about money. Tithing is just one part of the equation, and in my opinion, a very small part. I think DOING makes much more of a difference.
And where do you think your money goes? Ok, put it in the collection basket or mail it in, but do you follow up to see how it’s being used? Do you see it’s going to help support a soup kitchen? If so, do you offer up your TIME to serve at that soup kitchen? Follow the money and you’ll find there has to be someone at the end volunteering their time and they always need more volunteers.
When it’s hurting you financially…
Let’s get back to my friend. I already cracked down on his lack of DOING (because he thinks the financial donation is enough), but I also mentioned I know more about his financial situation. Sure, 10% “goes to God”, but what about his other 90%? They make good money, have 2 kids and a nice house in a outer suburbs of the D.C. region. The problem has always been, though, that he loves spending. They are so jacked up in debt, they can barely breathe! Now, I’ll put this out there that if they weren’t the tithing type, they would still be swimming in debt, so if they wanted to help themselves, they would have to pair up stopping tithing and enforcing control and discipline to reduce their debt.
Why am I picking on them? They make almost as much as my wife and I combined, but he has no college degree and he’s 9 years older than me. He cares more about shopping for deals at work than working, even though he works for a university AND SHOULD BE GETTING HIS DEGREE! (his boss and boss’ boss are pushing him to do it now). He’s still paying the minimum on his one car (Acura) and they bought a shiny, new Acura MDX last year. And, of course, they’re paying the minimum on that. They’re not really saving up for their kids’ college education because he assumes he’ll stay at the university and get a cheap education for them…but we all know that might not work out. What if he loses his job, what if they want to go elsewhere, etc. Lastly, they keep refinancing their house to use the home equity to pay down their credit cards and then rack up more debt! (And it costs money to refinance too, remember?).
Dumb. Just dumb.
Contrast that now with my wife and I. We have no kids. Our house is half the size, but twice as costly, but we have 25% of it paid off already in just 7 years (I’d do more, but I’d rather invest than sink it into a stagnant housing market). We have no credit card debt. We have no card loan debt. We have no student loan debt or personal loan debts. Just one mortgage and that’s it.
Does that mean we should be giving even more than 10%? In my opinion, and to close the article, I think we’re doing just fine with the combination of money, gifts AND time we donate to various organizations and individuals around us. I always feel guilty that I should do more, but I live with that and work with it. I do more when I can and pull back when I feel overloaded. I don’t and won’t just throw money at a problem and walk away. I dig into it and find out how I can do more.
So, tithe if you want and/or feel obligated to, but don’t just toss the money in the collection plate and walk away. Spend your time too. Do, don’t just pay.