“Tithing helps us balance our greed with gratitude,” asserts the Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper, former pastor of Coral Gables United Church of Christ. In her pamphlet, “Why I Tithe,” the pastor explains, “It is the discipline of giving, rather than the amount of the proportion, that is the spirit of tithing.”
As children, we are taught to share. As adults, we grow into giving. Later, we grow through giving.
The practice (and semantics) of tithing evoke strong feelings. Many are unaware of the personal benefits of structured giving. We become more Christ-like when we tithe, or give. Secondly, the act of giving reveals to us the many ways in which God provides for us.
Most importantly, giving deepens the bonds we share with God and others.
In Matthew (23:23), we find the “seven woes” of Christ, and Jesus’ words on tithing: “Woe to you teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.”
Christ reminds us that we should give (or tithe) without neglecting justice, mercy, faithfulness and the love of God.
Has anyone ever told you, “You remind me of Jesus?” By emulating Jesus’ generosity, we become more like Him. Jesus gave us the ultimate gift: He died on the cross to pay for our sins, making possible our salvation.
There are many mortal examples of supreme giving and sacrifice: Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa are among them. Some continue in their efforts: Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have resisted the greed of celebrity, and live sacrificial lives of gratitude.
When we grow through giving, we become aware of God’s gifts. Moses, in Deuteronomy (8:16), said that God, “gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you.” When we give, regardless of circumstances, we show God we have faith in Him.
Giving to God (or tithing) shifts our focus from money toward God, and to the timing and specifics of need. We grow to learn to count on God at all times and in all situations.
Finally, growing through giving is a bonding experience. Paul teaches Timothy (I Timothy 6:6-8) about the relationship between money and contentment. “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it, but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” Paul reminds him that “the love of money is the root of all evil” (I Timothy 6:10).
Paul’s warning is often misquoted as “money is the root of all evil.” It is the love of money that is evil.
When we express our faith in God through giving (or tithing), we grow closer to Him. We experience the joys of sharing our treasure, our time and our talents.
When we regularly give to God our first fruits, we are showered with His blessings in multiple ways. In the mutual support of one another, we bring upon the earth God’s kingdom, and build it up for all generations.
The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door at 6001 NW 8th Ave., Miami. To contact the church, call 305-759-0373 or email the pastor at email@example.com.