We all have so much. Even those of us who are reading this wondering if the budget sheet is going to be in the negative numbers this month. If you are reading this, then count yourself among the world’s wealthy. You are literate and have internet access, even if it’s at the public library. You also have leisure time to spend reading the scribblings of some Midwestern housewife.
|I hope you don't mind pictures from our garden way back in July. I never posted them, and it seems to fit with this post: Very full of promise!|
“Fear not, little flock. For it is God’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:32-34)
Before I get too far into this subject, let me be up front that Ryan and I are not struggling financially. On the contrary we have been very blessed with a good job and a comfortable home. We do have significant debt from our student loans and mortgage, which we are working hard to pay ahead of schedule. This information might lead some people to say for me to talk about the virtues of poverty is just ridiculous and insulting to those who are really in need. I hope I don’t come across as just some starry-eyed girl playing at being a saint. Because I am well aware I am far, far from detached from this world’s material goods. I like birthday presents and ladies’ nights out and buying something pretty for myself every once in a while. I’ve just been thinking about this subject an awful lot lately, and I’m trying to organize my thoughts as well as share them. I think it's very important, especially as more and more people are having trouble paying the bills and might give up on giving. I’d be very interested in any additional insights or even corrections my readers (all five of you!) may have.
So, the kingdom. Something money cannot buy, but we have to be detached from money before we can obtain it. “One cannot serve both God and money.” Money is a little thing in comparison with what we are promised. Few of us are called to the radical poverty of St. Francis of Assisi or to give all of our money to the poor, but I’ve become convinced that we are all called to tithe. The fifth Precept of the Church is, “You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church.” This is not specified as a set amount, only “according to his own ability.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2043) So I don’t claim that not paying a 10% tithe is automatically a sin. However, I think giving 10% of one’s income—before taxes—is the first step in trusting God with our finances, of letting go of our attachment to money. I don't think attachment to money is exclusively in the realm of the rich man; Jesus' admonition to not worry about our food and clothing applies to everyone.
The Old Testament is full of exhortations on the importance of paying our tithes. The Old Law may have passed away, but human nature has not changed. God doesn’t need our money. A million dollars is nothing to Him. The tithe is ultimately for our own benefit. The 10% figure is high enough that we have to make a deliberate decision to give that much and lay claim to God’s promises, yet low enough that God is still very lenient with us. If you think about it, God lets us keep 90%, when He could justly claim all. He is God, after all.
It is a “stepping out in faith” to begin to tithe. I can only say for now that the only way to learn to trust in God is to do it! Pray for grace, read the Scriptures. The ones I referenced here were important to Ryan and me in beginning to tithe, also Mark 10:21 and Matthew 6:31-32. Tithing changed my whole outlook on stewardship and Divine Providence. Our money is not really ours. Charity is an obligation. God WILL provide. We'll talk about all of this.
Meanwhile, God makes another incredible promise regarding the tithe that is still true, because God never goes back on His promises: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me in this, says the Lord of hosts: Shall I not open for you the floodgates of heaven, to pour down blessing upon you without measure?” (Malachi 3:10)