Ministry Tip of the Week
Google defines it this way:
- one tenth of annual produce or earnings, formerly taken as a tax for the support of the church and clergy
When I first heard that definition, I was definitely shocked. "Ten percent! Are you kidding?" Then I started thinking very seriously about doing it, and I was afraid. Now, after a few years of (mostly) dedicated tithing, it's semi-common for me to think of the difference that extra ten percent could make each month and to look upon my situation with pity.
Immediately, however, I remember why I do it. First of all, my dad set the tone. I never really understood until I was older but, looking back, I see the abundant fruit his faith has produced and I do my best to follow his good example. Plus, I trust my dad... but not above reason - especially when the question involves a sacrifice of monthly income - so I've done much to scrutinize the position on tithing he learned from his father. (I was looking for a way out in the beginning, a reason not to do it)
In the end, I found three reasons to tithe. First of all, the idea is Scriptural. It comes from Abraham's encounter with the priest-king, Melchizedek. Abraham offered a tenth of everything he had: money, possessions, livestock, even servants. From that point on, the Jewish tradition was to offer 10% of everything to God. Are we bound by the old law as Christians? Of course not. But the New Testament is a law of generosity, which means going beyond the law.
The second reason is the Church's great need for our generosity. At the local level, parishes suffer from a lack of monetary giving across the country. Many give the same dollar they gave thirty years ago, while inflation affects parishes as much as it does anything else.
On a global scale, the Church needs our generosity as well. The poor are with us in great and growing numbers. Catholic relief and missionary efforts are in constant need of support. Again, it seems small but, when everyone does their part, huge obstacles can be overcome.
Finally, and most important of all, I NEED TO TITHE FOR THE SAKE OF MY OWN SOUL. In a world bombarded by materialism, in a world which rewards greed, the need to be detached from my bank account is more necessary now than ever before. The modern world is producing a society addicted to consumption and convinced of it's self-sufficiency. Material prosperity in the West especially has created a downright grotesque appetite for consumption and control in all areas.
I think the greatest of all fruit is our ability to turn to the Lord for our needs. My wife and I are not "self-sufficient" in the worldly sense. We take Matthew 6:26 seriously. As we learn to give generously, our trust in the Lord grows. We understand fully that we can't do this without his help. And we're beginning to trust him enough to let him be in charge. That's the real reason we need to teach and talk about tithing, especially to our children and to our students. Faith requires trust. The Lord wants to provide for his people, and he will if we let him. This may not mean ten percent right away, or even ever necessarily, but the point of all this isn't the amount we give. Tithing is a means to an end. It allows the Lord himself to provide through the generosity of his people, and it frees us to love God and neighbor more perfectly. All Jesus asks is that we strive, that we continue to grow in a generous love, in detachment from the ways of the world, and in a child-like trust that our heavenly Father knows our needs.