Friday, June 29, 2018

Thoughts on Tithing

I tithe.  I haven't always been a consistent tither, so I totally understand the struggle, especially when you're up against it or living paycheck to paycheck.  But I have some thoughts, and here they are.

Why tithe?  It's not like God needs the money.  For me, it's more of an acknowledgement that God has all of the money and if he wants me to temporarily have more or less of it, that's up to Him.  It's good for me to give up that sense of control or entitlement or whatever, and acknowledge that He is God.  Lord knows I have a hard enough time not thinking of myself as the center of the universe - I can use the help.

How much?  Well, 10%.  And I tithe on the gross.  My thinking is don't be stingy with God unless you're expecting Him to be stingy with you.  Plus, again, I think I'm going to have as much money as He wills, so there's really no point in being stingy.  I suppose the same argument could be made in favor of giving away everything I have to the poor, but that's a discussion for another day.

Where?  This one is interesting, because I know a couple of people who give some or all of their tithe not to their church, but to missionaries or some other charity.  They can do what they want, but I don't like going down that road.  I don't think we should have any say in how our tithe is used.  For example, if you heard about someone who went to the pastor and said, "I tithe $100K per year, and I want part of that spent on new choir robes.", I think most of us would agree there's a problem there.  And take it a step further.  Can you not imagine someone giving their tithe to their political party or candidate, because surely God wants to stop those evil people on the other side?  Even something as simple as using part of my tithe to buy food for my small group - I can't do it.  People would be thanking ME for MY hospitality.  And it's not about me.  So, I say if you trust the leadership at your church, then blindly give the whole tithe to them.  And if you don't trust the leadership at your church, then ... you might want to find a new church.

Always?  That's a tricky one for me.  When I'm unemployed, I don't tithe.  I suppose you could argue that God is providing via the state, but if I get to the point where I have to ask my mother for help, it doesn't seem right to ask her for more than I need.  So that's me.

Are there exceptions?  Of course.  Probably.  I'll admit there have been times when I was working a part time job and I told God that I would tithe as soon as I was really working again.  But that is a sticky one, because maybe God is wanting to see how you'll act when the going gets tough.  And you need to be careful when you start making exceptions, 'cuz one can more easily lead to another.  But God deals with each person differently.  I've heard a pastor suggest to someone that they start with 5% and work their way up, giving God time to show them that He will provide.  So you do your thang - as long as you do it honestly and pray about it and consult with people.

Anyway, that's me and tithing.  Maybe this will help someone else think through their position and start to tithe.  Because it's good for the soul - it really is.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Littlest Thing

I am a big believer that the some of the littlest things we do have the greatest impact.

For example, a woman at church today made my day.  Pretty much by just being herself.  She smiled.  She spoke to me.  She gave me a compliment.  She chose to sit next to me.  And during the funny parts of the sermon, she leaned into/nudged me.  And it's not like there's a romantic interest there (she's got a boyfriend).  She was just being her warm, friendly self.

But it made my day so much better than it was.  Not that I was in a bad mood, but it filled up my quality-time tank a bit.  Just enough that when I got back to my apartment and saw the annoying family with the annoying kid, instead of averting my gaze, I nodded at them.  And the dad waved back.  And that was better than dwelling in my normal animosity.

I've been working on being more friendly, too.  For example, I was reading an article about being friendly, and it suggested complimenting people.  Which, in the past, has not really occurred to me as something people ... do.  So I've been trying to do that.  I like your green dress.  I dig your Harry Potter shirt.  Your eyes are really pretty today.  And the thing I've noticed is that while they may appreciate the compliment, it does much more for me.  I'm spending time thinking about them and trying to notice something that I can then appreciate.  Which is good for me, because it gets me out of my head and thinking about others.  Which, if you know me, is not my ... first impulse.

I'm telling you, you don't even know the ripple effect you can have by smiling at someone or engaging them in conversation and looking them in the eye.  I honestly believe that the littlest thing can, stupidly enough, change lives.