Many years ago as a struggling young father, I finally came to understand the true meaning of creation. To state it simply, everything that is, is His! Unfortunately due to the density of the space in between my right and left ear, it was not until I almost lost everything before I learned this lesson!
It happened something like this: in the early years of being in business an employee was responsible for a traffic accident in which two people were injured. Those two people hired an attorney and the outlook became severely grim.
Now this was in my “B.O.” years (Before Orthodoxy) but I was a God seeking man. Every Sunday I would attend church with my family and put my offering envelope in the collection plate. Now at that time, with all the bills a young family incurs, I was giving to God what was left-over. I trusted more in myself than in my Creator, and after all, I had responsibilities!
Now at the verge of losing everything, I finally realized I had been failing Christ’s teachings about tithing. With the lawsuit unsettled for about a year, I was dangling like a piece of red meat in a lion’s cage. My attorney was finally able force a settlement on the lawsuit resulting in the forfeiture of the insurance company’s aggregate limit and a few thousand in attorney’s fees! But now, I was a changed man and my family was safe, warm and fed!
God requires our tithe to be our first fruits, not what was left-over after the bills and meals! If we cannot be faithful with the amount of money we have now, why should God increase us? I changed my pledge by making a monthly budget and placed my church tithe as the first budget item. At that time I was surrendering to God about 1% and over the next couple of years, I increased it each year, little by little until l was giving 10%. Now there were times when we struggled with our bills, but God somehow worked things out for us and with some sacrifice our finances were blessed, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” [Lk. 12:34] It was not long after that where we realized we still had an abundance of income and were now able to give 15%. God truly blessed us!
Over the years I have heard reasons that people have for not tithing. One common argument is that unlike the government at that time, our elected officials help take care of our poor with social programs which we help pay for with our taxes. Of course, even with these programs people still are homeless and slip through the cracks of this enormous helpful system. Those people that slip are our still our responsibility!
Another popular argument is that at times a tither will disagree with the way the priest or church has handled the church finances. We are to give our tithe freely because “freely ye received, freely give.”[Mt. 10:8] And after all God will hold us accountable for our leadership. We need to look no further than 1 Samuel 2:12-26 to see how God dealt with the wicked abuse of the sacrificial offerings by Priest Eli’s sons!
It is our responsibility to support our church and then in abundance we can also support other ministries. “But this I say: The one who soweth sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and the one who soweth with blessing shall also reap with blessing.” [2 Cor. 9:6] Tithing for an Orthodox Christian is just as an important discipline as prayer, fasting, attendance and confession. And let us not forget to tithe our time and talent as well! We must put God first in all aspects of our life!
“ Now the One Who supplieth seed to the sower and bread for eating, may He provide and multiply your seed for sowing, and increase the fruits of your righteousness, being enriched in everything to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.” [2 Cor. 9:10,11]
You cannot out give God!! Everything that is, is His! (Psalm 24:1)
Fr. G 10-19-14