By Debra Whittington
But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:6-8
During a recent news show I was shocked to find a report relating to the controversy over the issue of tithing in the local church.
This took me off guard because a secular show was spending time on a subject relating to a spiritual matter instead of the current presidential campaign.
It was interesting to note that Americans give $295 billion a year to charity. Of that, $97 billion is designated for religious organizations. According to the news report, only 4 percent of Americans say that they tithe.
On the negative side were images of television evangelist’s luxurious homes and jets and the lavish lifestyle they live.
A woman shared with the reporter that her pastor told her that she had to tithe instead of buying medicine for her sick husband. I was ready to turn the channel when another woman started telling about the blessings she received by tithing and about all of the good programs her church was using the money for to help others. Among the projects they were supporting included a full-time missionary and a program to help the poor in the inner city.
With tax season upon us, people are looking for all the deductions they can receive.
One way they do this is through their charitable giving. However, if this is the only reason they give, where is the joy they could receive?
Have you ever thought about the joy in giving whether you call it tithing or not? The verses above instruct a person to give from his heart and to give cheerfully. If you can’t give willingly, why give at all?
If only we could all be philanthropists who could give millions of dollars to charitable causes. Millions of people gave way beyond the first 10 percent of their income. Although they didn’t do it to draw attention to themselves or to prosper from it, their stories are worth noting.
One example is James Cash Penney who started the first chain of clothing stores with a small store in 1902. A devout Christian, Penney always lived by the Golden Rule and sought out ways to help others by giving much of his fortune away.
There are so many worthwhile causes to contribute to, but I feel one should give first to the local church. It is through the local church that people are helped on a one on one basis. As to how much to give, that is between the giver and the Lord although in numerous places the Bible gives the amount of 10 percent.
Next comes all other giving. Pray first for guidance. Second, do your homework. Find out all you can about the organizations or charities, which interest you. Choose organizations that you feel strongly about and which use the money given wisely. Avoid organizations and charities, which spend more on fundraising and administrative costs than to the cause they are supporting. Ask questions.
Don’t support an organization or charity if you don’t agree with what they stand for. Don’t give a donation out of guilt or pressure from someone who thinks you should give. Give because you want to give.
Money isn’t the only way to give. How about giving of yourself? All churches and other organizations could use more volunteers. Even if it is only one hour a week or even a month, it is more than what many people are currently giving.
Thank you to all of the people who unselfishly give of their time, money, and talents to help others.
Our community is blessed to have so many of these people that there isn’t room in this column to list them by name. If there were more like you, this world would be a much better place in which to live.
Are you a cheerful giver? Why or why not? How can you give more of not only your money, but also of yourselves?
Consider Malachi 3:10 and then decide what you will do. “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
To tithe or not to tithe. What will you do?