Thursday, October 19, 2006

Another post on tithing

I had dinner with a friend last night. K is one of the few civilians I can really talk religion with. She is a lifelong Roman Catholic who has recently begun to experience a kind of rennaisance in her relationship with Jesus.

Over pork loin with maple syrup and gorganzola sauce, we discussed how Jesus has been whacking us upside the head of late.

For her, it has been tithing. She runs her own business, and has been tithing ten percent of the gross since the beginning. Lately, though, she has felt called to tithe her husband's income too. 10% of his gross pay. God is a faithful friend, to be sure. Within a day of her first huge check to the church, she got a call from her husband saying that he would be getting some extra money in his paycheck that week. Almost the exact amount she gave the church.

For some reason, the idea of tithing the gross rather than the net is scaring the crap out of me. It just seems like such a huge chunk of our budget. I feel fearful of our ability to do things like pay the mortgage. But yet, I have been tithing my own money since I started doing the kitchen tools gig and I haven't missed the 10% at all. And in fact, the amount I am donating keeps getting bigger and bigger as my business grows. So what, dear reader, am I so afraid of?

I talked it over with Nguyen when I got home and he was surpisingly open to the idea. He feels that we don't give enough to charity as it is, so he likes the idea of giving part of our income. And it happens that our church has enough social ministries that even his non-religious self can get behind the idea of donating to Grace to support the soup kitchen, homeless shelter, low income housing, etc. etc.

So. Gross or net.

And does it really make sense to do this with outstanding debt looming over our heads?

Lord, I promised, on the day of my dunk, to do whatever you ask of me, no matter how difficult. I am asking you now to show me what you will have me do.

We are willing.

Share with me, dear readers, your experience with tithing.


Kel said...

"I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed" Ps 37.25-26

We give based on the gross. While I deplore some of the philosophy that is on billboards of some churches intimating that the more money you give the more money you will have (as in you will become rich), I believe with all my heart that if I am tithing from my heart-- with cheer and thanksgiving-- that my family will not starve and we will be taken care of. I may not have a huge house et all. In fact just because I give to God, I could still face bankruptcy, identity theft all the things we fear financially. But I know that whatever comes we will not starve or be without shelter.

I cannot *repay* God, nor can I outgive him. Money is such a small thing really when compared to time and our hearts. For me it is the easiest part of being a Christian. (and no, I am not rich or even upper middle class). People think I am lucky, but that's not true. I am truly blessed and I believe that comfort and joy in tithing has something to do with it.

Rachel's Big Dunk said...

Really, the money is God's anyway, so why NOT give some of it back?

I, too, feel that tithing with the idea of getting rich is deplorable. It seems to defeat the whole idea of making a joyful sacrifice to God. When I write my check to Grace each week, it is with gratitude for the opportunity.

Thanks for weighing in, Kel.

Any others out there care to comment?

ukok said...

Tithing a percentage of one's earnings is a necessity in order to keep the church we worship at, going...but tithing of ones times and 'talents' is also crucial in bringing life to the church too. Sometimes it isn't the money that matters so much as the generous heart that gives of it's time and capabilities :-)

Just a thought.