Sunday, April 24, 2011

April A to Z Challenge: T is for ...

I usually don’t mix politics and religion with my blog, because both are deeply personal issues for most people.  I don’t like seeing people bash it out regarding who is right and who is wrong. For today’s “T” topic though, I am going to break my own rules.  The topic I have chosen is not only a spiritual belief, but a financial belief as well.

T is for Tithing.

Many years ago I became familiar with the principle of tithing, or of giving away 10% of what you make. In college, I minored in Business Administration, and after graduating I had a series of jobs involving managing, or helping to manage, businesses. I loved to read business “how to” books, and was stunned to find that many of them advocated this principle—this belief that in order to be successful, you must give away 10% of what you earn.

I later also heard it from a spiritual point of view. In the Old Testament, in Malachi 3:10-11, we read:

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.  And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts.”

As we see, we are promised both temporal and spiritual blessings by tithing. We are promised blessings enough that we won’t have room to receive them all. Even our gardens and the fruits of our labor shall be blessed. The commandment to tithe, therefore, is not just a financial suggestion, but a spiritual one as well.

I decided that I needed as many blessings as I could get, and that for me, tithing would be a part of my life. Some people tithe to charities or to people in need or to the church they attend. Regardless of to whom you tithe, tithing is the act of being grateful for what you have, and knowing that there is enough to go around in this world, even when it seems impossible for us to give.  I made a commitment that no matter what, 10% is always shaved off from what I receive, and given back to someone else.

Has it been hard to tithe even when I could barely feed my family as a single mother years ago?  Oh yes. But I believe that tithing blessings only come when faith is involved. In other words, if next week I say, “I’m not going to pay my tithing this week because Weston needs a new pair of shoes,” am I going to be blessed? Probably not. Call it blessings of faith, call it the universe paying you back, call it karma, call it obeying God’s word—whatever you call it, tithing is a principle by which I live my life.

If you think that tithing is too hard, or that God can’t make money out of nothing (an argument I have heard people use as to why they don’t believe they will be blessed by paying tithing,) or that you just don’t have the money this paycheck, let me give you a few examples from my own life.

*One time, back in Iowa, when I had no money for food. I was very tempted not to pay my $15 in tithing because I only had $18 for food that week. If I paid my tithing, then I would have $3 for groceries.  I finally decided I would just stick my tithing in an envelope and mail it to my church leader so I wouldn’t be tempted to keep it. I mailed the envelope and went through my kitchen, evaluating how to best spend my $3. I decided on milk and sugar because at least then I could bake food for the rest of the week. I went to the store, got my milk and sugar. When I got back from the store, there were 5 boxes crammed full of food on my doorstep. Inside a carton of eggs was a $10 bill. All my friends denied doing it. It was enough food to last me for almost two months. I scarcely had room to store all the food. “…there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

*Another time I was struggling with this principle and wondered if God would understand if, as a single mom, I could just buy food instead of paying tithing. My tithing amount that week was $20. I decided there was no good reason not to pay it, so I paid. That very night I went to work as a tutor in a group home. The director called me into the kitchen and said, “We have been so happy with what you have been doing, that we made your check for $20 extra tonight.” Coincidence?  Nope.  Simply God making money out of nothing.

*One of my jobs involved selling Avon. I was getting ready to pay my $15 tithing when I wondered if perhaps I should just wait until next week to pay it. Again, I was determined to pay it, so I did. The very next day, a woman at work said, “Oh, here’s that $15 I owe you.” I was confused because I didn’t remember that she owed me money for anything. She said, “Yeah, remember a couple months ago when I said I would pay you for Avon on my next check? Well I totally spaced it off until now.”

I believe I was given the exact amount of my tithing so that I would see a relationship between the two. I would know without a doubt that the promise was being fulfilled. This was not merely a coincidence.

Over the years, I have been blessed financially many times, and in many different ways. I have had money appear, seemingly out of nowhere. I have never “gone without” because I gave away part of my earnings. Instead, I have been given more than what I gave away.
Here are a few more examples:

·        I was surprised about 10 years ago when I got a letter in the mail saying that I was involved in a class action lawsuit against a former employer for pension fraud. A couple months later I received my portion of the settlement—about $2500!

·        Once I went into work and my boss informed me he was giving me a $2 an hour raise, just because.
·        I broke a contact lens and needed to make an appointment to get new ones so I asked my boss if I could take a long lunch for my eye doctor appointment. He said, “Ok. I’ll give you $200 to buy new ones.” 
·        I had to go the emergency room one night and stay overnight at the hospital. It cost $1500 for that one night. I made arrangements with the hospital to work there on weekends to pay for my bill. When my boss heard that, he paid my bill for me.
·        Once when I was really struggling, a lady I know came into where I work. She handed me $50 and said that their family was impressed that I needed that money. I was so grateful because that week I had no money for food because I had just paid my tithing.
·        I saw someone who owed my former employer some money. I reminded the person that he still owed $160. He apologized and gave me the $160. When my former employer came to get the money I had collected for him, he gave me $40. Total chance encounter.
·        When my former employer sold his company to a new person a few years ago, he gave me the company car. Yup—just gave it to me. Free car.

I could go on and on and on but I think you get the idea. When you give away part of what you earn, it comes back to you, many times over.

Many of the business books that I have read proposed that tithing is a financial investment, and that getting something back is the only reason you should tithe. I don’t feel that way. I would still tithe whether or not I received anything back from it, just because it’s the right thing to do, and there are always people in need. Yet, I am living testimony that Malachi wasn’t just making this up. No, I may not win the lottery because of tithing, and someone probably won’t pick me off the street and hand me a million bucks, but my needs have always been met. I have never gone without food, clothing or shelter. I know tithing is a part of who I am.

Happy Easter to all of you who celebrate this glorious day.


  1. Quite a story. People have been kind to you, and you to others in return. There is much to be grateful for in every day life when we pause to reflect on it.

  2. Auntie M: I agree that there is so much to be grateful for. I have been the recipient of so much kindness that I could write a book. (Hmmm...)

  3. I've listened to Jim Rohn who is a very good motivational speaker and he has some great training programs as well. He talks about giving back too.
    It makes a lot of sense.

  4. Life 101: I have never heard of Jim Rohn, but I love good motivational speakers. I'll go Google him. Thanks for the info!

  5. I might add that I don't like being told I must tithe or give. Years ago at a place I worked we were told we had to contribute to the United Way. I resented that. I've heard of schools that have "required voluntary work" programs. How does a child learn to volunteer if it's required?

  6. Auntie M: I totally agree. At a place I worked, donations to the United Way were almost mandatory during a drive each year. One year, when I didn't want to donate because I couldn't ethically support one of the organizations that would receive the money, I was visited personally by my boss. He accused me of being the sole reason that our workplace wouldn't be 100% contributors that year, and that because of my bad example, other people were not donating either. He wanted that 100% participation trophy. "Required voluntary" programs. Another thing to add to the list of my favorite oxymorons.

  7. I think this is awesome! It has come back to you ten fold and will always!

  8. I wholeheartedly agree with you and Auntie M that we are all so lucky when we are surrounded by love and generosity. Even though many may say differently, I say that we do live in a world full of wonderful people. (Like you!)


You won't be paid for it, but at least you'll know that you have contributed intelligence to the universe...

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