Tithing is a journey, at least it was for me. I didn't start out tithing ten percent of my income, but through the experiences of witnessing family members giving Sunday offerings since I was a young child, I knew it was an integral part of being a follower of Christ to fulfill God's work on earth. As stated in the parable of the rich fool, Luke 12:15 “And he said to them, Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”
As long as I've attended church, I have always given a portion of my salary, but, let's be clear, it wasn't always easy. As we travel along our life's path there are both easy and hard times. In fact, there was a lengthy period of my adult life that I did not attend church at all. It was shortly before I married and subsequently divorced four years later. I now realize that I was like the Israelites wandering in the wilderness.
My Catholic guilt and my need to hear God's word lead me back to his fold of believers. When I bought my little house in Willow Glen approximately thirty years ago, I made a promise to God to start attending church once more.
I began worshipping at Resurrection Lutheran on Leigh Avenue and I gave a portion of my income to the church.
But how much should I give? At first, I gave about $200 a month, not ten percent. Eventually, I transferred my membership to Immanuel Lutheran Church further down Leigh and gave about $300 each month, still not truly tithing. I was struggling, not giving with my whole heart. I even complained to a Mormon friend (I knew they were supposed to tithe also) that I would have plenty of money if I didn't give $300 of my money to the church every month. Time passed, I continued to give, but was I giving first fruits or sloppy seconds?
As I grew in my faith I became further involved with my church giving in other ways as well as monetary means; serving on Altar Guild, Usher Team, Coffee Team, Sunday School helper, etc. (sound familiar?) and participating with my church on events that helped our local community. It was then that giving an offering became easier and more from my heart. I was happy to give to support God's work. I increased my monthly donation again, (still not quite ten percent though).
Approximately ten years ago, I transferred my membership to CGS and quickly became involved in church life here. However, it wasn't until Laurie Gaumer spoke at one of our recent congregational meetings about how she tithed ten percent of her gross income, that I searched my heart once again. Should I, could I... give more? I prayerfully considered how God has abundantly dealt with me and recently increased my offering to a true tithe.
Where are you on your personal journey? Have you prayerfully thought about God's abundance in your life? Are you giving sloppy seconds or first fruits? Food for thought.
Christ the Good Shepherd
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