To Tithe or Not to Tithe...
So is tithing a burden?
Yes and no.
No, it’s not a burden if you don’t have a testimony of it and you don’t pay it.
Yes, it’s a burden if you know you should pay it and you don’t.
No, it’s not a burden if you have a testimony of it and pay it.
Tithing is one of those things…you know, that frustrating sort of faith thing: if you do it, you gain a testimony of doing it, if you don’t do it, it’s a thorn in your paw.
There was an article in a local publication called “City Weekly” that stated that Utahans have a super high rate of bankruptcy, and the article tried to imply that the problem was that we paid 10% of our income to the Church. This is true AND false. It is true because we DO pay 10% of our earnings to the church, and it is false because the REASON people in Utah area going bankrupt is because they are buying huge new houses, boats, and RV’s and getting loans based on their gross income instead of already figuring out the 10% as “untouchable” income. This has to do with the fact that most people are financial idiots, and not because paying tithing makes you poor.
In fact…I have a magic box…a magic money box…which has come in handy as the perfect object lesson for years as I was a missionary and as I have taught primary…
It looks innocent enough, but let me explain. When I was a young adult, I used this box as my bank. I was in school full time and working part time as a server in TWO restaurants. I got paid a paltry $2.17/hr + tips. Every evening when I came home, I would count my vast take of single one dollar bills, take out 10%, put the 10% in the tithing drawer (the middle left), and put the rest in another drawer (the middle right). As long as there was an honest amount in the left drawer, there was always money in the right drawer. I never missed a rent payment. I never went hungry. And I always had something for the weekend. (I loved that my tithing envelopes were fat! I mean really…who pays in cash?)
This is a little simplistic, I know. But seriously, that box was “magic.” Even now, as Todd and I struggle to make it on one income while trying to maintain our rock-n-roll lifestyle, we have been blessed by having just what we needed, when we needed it. This is not to say that we don’t have months of extreme lean; months when we eat all the old stuff in the cupboard that we bought before there was such thing as “Sugar Busters” and “South Beach.”
I mean to say that we have a testimony of tithing. I seriously feel that life is precarious; finances are precarious…and it is only by the grace of God that Todd’s company has survived for 3 ½ years, that I was able to have such a sweet design gig (in Utah!), that we have a roof over our heads, that we have clothes on our backs, and that we have food on our table.
A huge part of having a testimony of tithing is gratitude. I have seen all those things I mentioned above yanked out from under people’s feet. As long as I am being blessed by God, I will return to him what is rightfully His, and more! This is not to say that just because I pay tithing nothing devastating will ever happen to me (us). Bad things happen to good people; people who pay their tithing. I mean that paying my tithing helps me to separate myself from material things (my biggest false idol) and to rely on the arm of God. I have faith that if something catastrophic happened tomorrow, if I continue to pay my tithing we will be OK.
Side note: here in Utah in the service industry we have a little joke…Utahans are notoriously bad tippers, and the reason is because they can only figure out 10%. I even had an old crotchety man tell me not to complain about my tip because if he had to give 10% to the Lord he sure as hell wasn’t going to give me more.