Do You Struggle to Tithe?

Do You Struggle to Tithe? October 17, 2007

It is so tempting not to tithe when it is a tight match at the end of the month. If you are like me, you are many times tempted to forgo your monthly tithe. Now, when I say “tithe” I am not talking about non-monetary giving, which is also important. I am talking about America’s first love: Money. The following are a few thoughts I use on myself to make sure I do not cheat God out of what is His.

1. That 10% is not mine. It is God’s money. Do I really want to steal from God?

2. When I place God first in my life, including first over my money, He will give me my daily bread. I guarantee that God NEVER fails. TRUE STORIES: In college I gave my tithe, even though A)it emptied 0ut my bank account and B) I had bills to pay. When I went to my college’s business office to explain I couldn’t pay their bill AGAIN, I discovered much to my shock that my bill was PAID IN FULL by an anonymous person.

Another story, things were a bit tight one month for my husband and I. I was SO tempted NOT to pay that month’s tithe checks, but I did it out of reason number one. I wondered how we would make ends meet. The next day, I received an unexpected refund from the hospital for the exact amount I needed to get us through to pay day.

In college my girlfriend and I hosted a benefit concert for a child care center in Ecuador. We needed just $127 to close the deal, when I walked into my bathroom and there on the mirror my roommate had written her tithe check for the month. The amount? $127.

3. Tithing keeps me grateful. I am reminded every time I write my tithe check, or grocery shop for the homeless shelter, how many blessings God has given me. It changes my perspective from “I wish I could make more” to “God has overly blessed me.”

4. Tithing liberates me from my money. When I tithe, especially when I don’t have the money to tithe, I am reminded that God is ultimately the One calling the shots. I get the freedom from worry at the same time I help care for the poor. This is a big deal because the people I know who do not tithe, are the most enslaved by their money. They worry about paying their bills EVEN when they are the top 1% of the tax bracket. It never ceases to amaze me. They should be the most at peace because they do have money and yet they are not.

5. Tithing reminds me how little God wants from me. 10%? That is it. He lets me keep 90%! He is more generous than the Federal Government. It is this generosity from God that makes me want to be generous as well.

The 10% is merely a percentage. It is our standard in our family. We take out 10% and give half of that to the Church and the other half to charities. When we receive pay bonuses, or the annual Permanent Fund Dividend, or what not, we will contribute more.

I have found that the more I give, the easier it is. I also have my daughter drop the tithe check in the basket at Mass and she loves it. She loves to feel included. I also make her tithe from her PFDs she receives, and any allowance she will earn in the future. It is a good way to teach our children how to be generous and not self-centered.

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  • An excellent post. Fr. Larry Richards has a good bit that hits on many of the same points.

  • STEFAN ELTGROTH, M.D.

    My wife and I have been tithing since we both became Christians in ourcollege days
    ( also our evangelical days), in the 1970’s. I was always impressed by Ron Sider’s book – Rich Christians in a Age of Hunger. It is easier if you start early on, you cannot send what isn’t yours as we have always considered the 10% as Gods money that we are intrusted with to spend for the church or other charities. There is always talk of stewardship in Protestant churches, but I never hear that much about it since we have joined the Catholic church in 2004. Protestants are known for giving a higher percentage of income to the church than Catholics. Is that because they all think the catholic church is so rich they don’t need the money or what?

  • Bwilliams

    My understanding is that:

    (1) Catholics are not required to tithe;

    (2) Catholic Social Teaching teaches that ALL of your money is God’s, given to you as a steward. You are to spend ALL of it according to His will, and His will encompasses your family responsibilities and other responsibilities, along with your responsibilities to your parish and to charitable causes. You aren’t allowed to keep that other 90% (it’s God’s too) and God may not want you to give that 10% to your parish.

    (3) I would be more impressed by those tithing stories if they told stories about people being, say, debt free or their kids getting college scholarships. I’m not saying those stories aren’t impressive, but somehow I don’t think barely making payments on our bills is what God wants. Maybe that’s the distributist in me.

    Could be wrong on all of this. I’m curious as to what others have to say.

  • Bwilliams

    Oh yeah, and the universal destination of goods seems to mitigate against a 10%/90% dichotomy as well, I think.

  • In our parish we do quite a bit with Stewardship. Some parishes unfortunately do not. It is not an overnight event and then things run smoothly, there are lots of things to take into consideration and loads of education to handle. We have been pursuing full stewardship in our parish for 5 years and we are still 3 or 4 years away. We did however do a reverse collection last year…we gave out $16,000 to the people at Mass one weekend. Every family who was at Mass that weekend, registered or not (we have 650 registered families) got from 30$ – 80$. They were told and given the story from Matthew 25 and some ideas as to what to do with the money. This weekend is our Return Weekend, so keep us in your prayers. I will say this, there are very few programs, if any, that could possibly generate more involvement in parish life than this has for our parish. One more thing, if you know anyone who is getting involved in stewardship and needs some help tell them to drop me a line, we (my staff and parish and I) would be more than willing to help. Peace to all…

  • M.Z. Forrest

    As far as a tithe being 10%, there is indeed not that requirment. All catholics are obligated to support their parishes. This is fairly straight forward: http://www.catholicherald.com/saunders/98ws/ws980122.htm

    The only thing I’ve seen elsewhere that is a mite distressing is the number of people who seem to think that supporting the parish is optional.

  • jonathanjones02

    I need to tithe better. Right now all I am supporting is a non-denominational effort, although a very worthy one.

    http://supportingtroops.blogspot.com/2006/09/wheelchairs-for-iraqi-kids-video.html

    Ya’ll should pony up!

  • Bwilliams has a valid point: If you’re irresponsible with money and in debt up to your eyeballs, you’re not doing God’s will by giving 10% of your money to the Church. Especially when the interest rates on your credit card are probably something like 17%. But how often does that happen? Those who make the sacrifice to consistently tithe 10% are more often than not those who are the most responsible with their money, simply because they DO recognize that it all comes from God.

    I don’t think Radical Catholic Mom meant that once she gives her 10%, she can spend the rest on diamond earings and fur coats. That kind of thinking is more up Joel Osteen‘s alley. *shudder*

  • Bwilliams

    It seems to me that we all ought to give EVERYTHING. By that I mean that we should each recognize that none of what we own is ours in the sense that Anglo-American culture embraces. Property rights are legal conventions (very important ones), but do not accurately reflect the true nature of things, which is that all goods originate in God and are destined for all. Everything we have is given to us by God and everything we have should be distributed (by us) pursuant to God’s will. Most obviously, that means providing for our necessities (and the necessities of those we’ve been given to care for) according to our state in life. One of those entities which is dependent upon us, and for which we are obligated to care, is the Church, so clearly the Church should receive support from us. It seems to me that calculating how much support to give depends on an assessment of both our own resources and the needs of the Church. But then, any superflous income IS NOT OURS. It belongs to others, to the point that spending it on ourselves is stealing from them. As far as I can tell, even if you give half your income to the Church there are expenses that you are simply not permitted to incur, that amount to stealing. I say all of this because I think I’ve seen well meaning parents tithe to a rich church while they don’t, say, provide for their children’s education, and I’ve seen self-satisfied rich people give their 10% and act like they’re acting justly with respect to their finances as a result, despite enjoying countless expensive luxuries with that other 90%. Just my thoughts on this.

  • radicalcatholicmom

    Bwilliams, I know at least in my life, that if I do not set aside a specific amount, God doesn’t get any of it. And I am not saying I don’t donate my time (which I do a lot) or that I don’t give, but the monthly calculation in my mind, is a form of prioritizing. It is especially an act of prayer when one doesn’t have the money. And for me, tithing helps me focus on what you are talking about. I think of tithing as a habit of being.

    And Tienne, you are so right as well. We have to be good stewards with the whole.

    MZ: I agree. I think that is why habitual tithing is so crucial because I know my house would not exist if I do not pay the bills. How can my parish exist if I do not help pay the bills?

  • The Church here in South Korea suggests 3%.

  • TP

    Greetings,

    Tithing 10% is an old testament idea. In the New Testament ALL belongs to God. However, God gives us 90%.

    Us giving 10% and we see how generous we are and we become proud.

    God givine us 90% and we are receiver of God’s generosity, and we are thankful.

    peace

  • My husband and I tithe. Today we found a cheque that was dated back in 2003 that we haven’t cashed. We have found it just in time for some bills that were bigger than we expected.

  • My husband and I give money to the church every week, but I admit it’s nowhere near 10%. I agree with Bwilliams – I think all Catholics should give money to the church, but the percentage they give will depend on their situation. They need to take into account their family and their other needs (not wants). For example, if we gave 10%, there’s no way I would ever have any hope of being a stay-at-home mom or having a big family. And I think those things are important. Though maybe someday we will be able to give 10% – I think couples need to reevaluate the amount they tithe when their situation changes.

  • bill bannon

    The Catechism states that we are to give what we can afford…not a tithe. The modern Catholic including priests reject so much of the Old Testament on the literal level until we get to tithing where suddenly they are levitical ….which as I say, is not the position of the catechism. Aquinas actually believed in the tithe but in another place wherein he explained it, he actually undermined its logic. He said that with 12 tribes of Israel and one being Priests who could not inherit or spend much time earning a living, the remaining 11 tribes had to contribute 10% each to the Levites with a slight overage included in that 10% to account for the stingy and the extreme poor not giving at all. That ratio no longer exists between clergy and laity 1 to 11; and diocesan clergy can inherit and we had one in lower NY who was in the papers because a lawyer had conned him out of $500,000 that he had inherited.
    In the early Church a part of the collection went to widows and orphans…..not to putting a gazebo on the lawn of the rectory as I saw in one parish in NY. The US taxpayer pays between 6 and 15% of his income for social service purposes in his US taxes and that includes widow with orphans who were originally covered by the Church who does not cover them now in the US. In India if you are a widow with orphans, you become destitute and I gave money for ten years for such a situation in India wherein the widow had to give her 4 children to a Catholic orphanage because her husband had a brain aneurism and died and whereas in the US she would have been covered by our social security taxes, in India she had to give her children to others and she worked as a domestic near their orphanage.
    In short the US citizen is giving for widows and orphans now through the government for what was originally one of the main reasons for giving in the apostolic Church. The apostolic church did not have to heat church buildings which capture 90% of the heating bill above our heads in a high ceiling space.

  • STEFAN ELTGROTH, M.D.

    Responding to some of the above posts – ofcourse God is the giver of all -100%- of what we have not 10 %, but when we say that and then don’t actually give some percentage of our income to God, its just empty words. Remember the average american is still far richer than 95% of the world’s population, we are overweight, over housed, over indulged to the point of excess. We have turned a mountain of luxaries and turned them into necessities. We have to rent storage space, despite the fact that the average house in now >2500 sq ft and growing, the largest average home sized in the world. Will someone explain why a young small family with 1 or 2 kids MUST have a 4000 sq ft, 4 bedroom, 21/2 bath house, or a $50.000 car !?

  • Donald R. McClarey

    To keep bankruptcy attorneys employed