Some years ago, at St. Stephen’s in Utah, Suzanne and I heard a guest speaker talk about tithing. We learned that tithing is a spiritual discipline. It concerns money. Do we value money over our relationship with God? Do we think about our money more than we think about God? Do we think of God when we spend money? Do we consider how God might want us to prioritize our spending? These questions, and more, make money a spiritual discipline. When we put our energy and thinking about money before God, we are making money the more important part of our lives.
The speaker, whose name I don’t remember, also talked to us about percentage giving. After all, the tithe is the giving of 10% of what we earn. So we need to shift our thinking into percentages. The beauty of percentages or proportional giving is that when our income goes up, our giving goes up. And conversely, when our income goes down, our giving goes down. So we have an automatic adjustment made in what we give based on the changes to our income.
After that workshop, Suzie and I decided that we would work toward tithing. The first step was to figure out what percentage of our income we are giving. I made a pretty good salary in those days and we believed that we were among the largest givers to the parish. I was surprised to find, once the arithmetic was done, that we gave less than two percent of our income. We immediately adjusted our giving to two percent and vowed to increase our percentage of giving by one percent a year until we reached ten percent.
We did increase our giving by one percent a year for a few years. Then something different happened. We went to seminary. Our income took a terrific plunge. We immediately began giving 10%. We found it was very easy to tithe when we were poor. After all, 10% of a little isn’t very much. Our 10% giving was much smaller than our 5% giving before seminary. What Jesus said is true. It is much easier to give when you are not wealthy. We have tithed every year since our first year of seminary.
A frequent question is, “Do I tithe my gross income or net income?” You are the only one who can answer that question for yourself. Have you examined your spiritual relationship with money? If you are not tithing, what would it take for you to get there? What help do you need? Becoming a thither is a big step. It requires prayer.