“The basic question is not how much of our money we should give to God, but how much of God's money we should keep for ourselves.”
― Jim George, A Husband After God's Own Heart
Today, I want to talk about tithing. Not committed giving. Not charitable giving. Tithing. Tithing is, by definition, giving 10% of your financial good off the top to the place where you receive your spiritual nourishment. For most people, that's a church or a temple or a mosque or a spiritual center. To some, it might be an organization or a particular author, teacher or mentor. But it's an unapologetic absolute 10%. Many religions straight up require this. My religion doesn't, though it is (of course) encourages. And, you know what? I'm not at all convinced that we are doing anyone any favors with our "give as much as you see fit" attitude. In fact, I think we might actually be doing a bit of harm with our willy-nilly ways. Stay with me, now...
I remember being new to my spiritual community. I was going through a rocky divorce and money was very, very tight. I'd grown up Catholic, so of course I knew about tithing -- it was something you did or you went to hell. But at the spiritual center, I heard a particularly powerful talk one day from a guest speaker about tithing that really changed my view dramatically. What I heard that day was the idea that tithing 10% of my money was not about the church. It was not about being good, or making people happy or paying for the building. It was about faith. It was about stepping powerfully into my faith (or the faith I SAID I had) that God would truly and completely support me. It was about believing that money was not my good -- God was my good. Money was not my source -- God was my source. So I did it. With eyes scrunched tight, I vowed to give 10% of the money I was bringing in, trusting that I would still have enough and that it would be okay.
That was 10 years ago. Not one week has gone by without my 10% tithe. Not one. And you know what? I've been okay. More than that, I've generally prospered. There have been setbacks, yes, but I always bounce back. And you know why? Because I have faith, and my faith has been PROVEN to me to be based in something real. You see, I think the 10% matters. 10% is enough of my income to REQUIRE that I have faith, real faith, that God is my source and will provide for me. 10% is enough that it is a real sacrifice, a legitimately large amount of money to part with, something substantial. 10% is enough to notice, both if it comes back to me multiplied (as is promised by every major religion) and if it does not. 10% is a big enough number to make it real.
You see, tithing isn't about the church. It isn't about keeping the lights on or paying the mortgage or the minister's paycheck. It's about me. It's about you. It's about taking a big enough risk that we begin to pay attention and see the results of our faith. It's about breaking down our old beliefs about doing it all ourselves and realizing in a profound and transformative way that it is the Spirit within doing all the work. It's about being changed and having that change open us up to the glory and the magnificence of Divine Truth. It has to be big to matter, or the results won't matter either. It has to be a little bit dangerous to tear down the barriers we have built against God in our heart and in our lives to do the real work. Tithing isn't about God. It's about us. It's about scared people desperately hoping to feel differently, to feel loved and cared for and provided for and protects. But if we don't give God the opportunity to show us how immense It is, we won't be able to see it. Our faith won't grow.
So, I'm just going to say it. Your spiritual center won't expect you to tithe, but I do. I expect it of you, because you are worthy of grand expectations. You deserve to feel God step in and shower you with more than enough of everything -- money, love, hope, joy, support, kindness. You deserve to experience the profound transformation that tithing brings as it shows you that God has been there all along, and that you were always okay. At the end of the day, it's all God's money, whether we give it or not. We're God's, so everything we have is God's. But when we tithe, we get to see proof that we're God's. And you, my love, deserve to know that in the very depths of your soul. You deserve it.