Friday, February 21, 2014
Lots of faiths give a tithe to God. Lots of people share their bounty with the poor.
It's one of those constants across all societies.
And some look at tithing as though it were this evil conspiracy to take money from the hands of hardworking people.
I don't see it that way.
My dad is a top sales guy at work. He has an easygoing demeanor that customers connect to and he was numero uno last month. The other day, he had no sales. I laughed that in all the time he's had the job--this is the first time he's had a no sales day.
When I asked him what he thought it might be--he immediately said, "Tithing." He had simply forgotten to pay a tithe last month.
So he's back to paying a tithe to his spiritual guru, and sales are back up.
I decided a few months ago to be more vigilant in my tithe paying. Every time I turn around, I see another blessing.
The fact is--I pay a full tithe, I get blessed.
I don't--I struggle more.
The big thing is--Why?
It seems to be less about religion (mainly because it seems to work regardless of faith) and more about the attitude towards money. If your attitude towards money is to grip and grasp and covet it--then it seems to slip through your fingers faster than you can earn it. But by paying a tithe first, you proclaim to the universe that money is so easy to come by that you can let it go. When I let it go, it always finds its way back to me either through opportunity, extra time, life balance, lower utilities, better health--the list goes on and on.
Rich people pay bills. They pay for their shelter, transportation, food, and services. They require the same daily expenses that poor people require. But they give the money without the gutwrenching angst. They know that even if things fall apart, there's plenty of money to cover their needs. By paying my tithing, I indicate to the universe that I belong among those who can give away their money freely. My relationship with money goes from being angsty and ulcer inducing--to being casual and friendly. I still pay my other expenses--and I may be left with very little. But rather than having a pit in my stomach, I feel things unclench as I hand off my tithing. I feel this spiritual trust fund open up for me. I anticipate blessings. Or I anticipate that I won't see the usual expenses. Potatoes are cheap. Turn down the heat. I'm comfortable. I'm unafraid.
I came to understand this partly when I worked as a debt consultant. (The irony...) I learned that people's debt to income ratio is the same across classes. If you fear losing money, you will take on more debt than you can afford--whether you're rich or poor. You spend and save the same ratio, regardless of the money you bring in. Your relationship with money is not about how much you make.
I'll end on this note. I see complaints about how the LDS Church may be using tithing funds. My reaction? I disagree with the assertion that building a high rise that will bring 1,500+ jobs to Philadelphia is a misuse of funds. But it doesn't matter honestly. Paying tithing, giving charity--it is a blessing to the giver because it changes our relationship with money from beggar to partner. We stop clinging to money like a desperate lover, and espouse ourselves to a blessed life. None of us are deserving of the gifts we receive. And yet the gifts keep coming.
This has been your inter-denominational sermon on tithes and offerings.