The Narrow Rocky Path: Part Four

The last of my NRP (Narrow Rocky Path) posts…be still, your heart!  I want to talk about tithing.  It is a bit of a difficult thing for me to write about, as it seems like it would be very easy to come across as the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable about the two men who prayed in the temple.  But here goes….

After the severance ran out in November of 2008, and after going through the process at the Georgia Department of Labor to get unemployment, my gross income took a hit in the neighborhood of $1,500 a week.  That was daunting, to say the least.  But in pondering the trust issue with God, it was a blinking neon sign along the Highway of Life that making a commitment to tithe a percentage was walking the trust walk, not just talking the trust talk.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the 5th precept of the Church [2043] as materially supporting the Church on earth according to one’s means – it doesn’t specify a percentage, like the tenth outlined in Deuteronomy.  So 10% was “Old Covenant”, but what did Jesus reveal in the New Covenant?  I remember more than once a priest from the pulpit saying 10% was just and Biblical, but for the sweet love of St. Peter’s sandals, at least give 5%!  I also remember reading an article in Money magazine many years ago, one of their regular features where a financial planner works pro bono with a family.  I remember the planner complaining that this particular family was tithing 10%, and that was going to make it especially difficult to reach those retirement goals.  He even tried to talk them into tithing less, to no avail.  I heard a clever comment from Catholic commentator Curtis Martin that he is often asked is a tithe of 5% okay?  His answer is “5% is a fithe, not a tithe.”  So, after all the various inputs: Money magazine (the world), my fondness for eating (the flesh), and the thought that I could do it later when I got another job (the Devil), Scripture, conscience, and Curtis Martin, I decided to go with 10% of the gross.  For many years I had been giving, but giving from my excess.  Hearkening back to Jesus’ observations to his disciples regarding the widow’s mite reinforced the decision.

It’s been about 3-1/2 years since that decision, and I’ve got to say at this point that it’s all good.  I haven’t missed any meals, and there is more money in the bank now than there was back in 2008.  What’s kind of cool about committing to a percentage and sticking it to it that it feels like a partnership with God, and maybe too with St. Matthew, patron saint of accountants.  The more you make the more He makes, if you get my drift.  I just use the same principle the government uses when they require withholding – just pay God first.  It’s a way of trading pain for peace of mind.

Now in my mind it gets real tricky and tempting to start making promises about the joy and blessings that will be heaped on your head by tithing.  Mary and I went into it with only mortgage debt (a fixed mortgage at that), and we’ve had the good fortune to have tall, big-boned children whom college basketball programs thought worthy of interest.  So I hesitate to say that if you’ll do A, you’ll get B.  But a tithing plan that you commit to sticking to through thick and thin is the most tangible way I can think of in our day-to-day lives of trusting in our Lord.  And trust is paramount: there is no true faith without trust.  Matthew 7: 9-11 [NTT*] says it best:

Which one of you would hand his son a White Castle when he asks for Double Whopper with extra cheese, or a Miller Lite when he asks for a Guinness?  If you then, who are vain, pompous, and dumber than monkeys, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.

The jury’s still out on the NTT Bible.  But I digress…

I hope this little series has been helpful to someone in some way.  I would just ask you – if you are struggling to build a relationship with Christ – to ask yourself how much of your time, talent, and treasure you invest in building that relationship.  Trust me on this: Jesus wants it all.

*New Tom Translation

Explore posts in the same categories: Faith, Humor

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