The article Tithing Our Time to God in Knightline, the Knights of Columbus newsletter, makes many good points about being intentional with our time management. Author Philip Kosloski makes the great point that time is valuable, and so is hard to give. Our time is in demand. Our schedules are tight. So, we may be tempted to think that giving money substitutes for having to give time. As Kosloski says, “Giving money is easy.”
Giving money is easy. Until it is not.
Giving money is not easy when we give what God calls us to give. The Old Testament is clear in its teaching that we are to tithe ten-percent of our first fruits. But that’s the Old Testament. As Christians, we are more interested in the New Testament, in the spirit of the law. Where can we get a sense of that spirit?
Consider what John the Baptist exhorts in Luke 3:11, “Whoever has two tunics should share with the person who has none.” He’s talking about giving 50%. Look also at how Zacchaeus responded to Jesus in Luke 19:8, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor.” And of course, Jesus gave His all-everything-100%. As disciples, we are to do as Jesus did. From this vantage point, giving ten-percent looks pretty good.
Giving statistics going back decades bare the facts. The amount of charitable giving of all Christians is just over 3% of income; Catholics come in at about 1.5%. Studies done by Notre Dame and Villanova consistently find that the average gift to the collection basket is $10 per week. No wonder giving money is easy for so many.
We Americans seem to disconnect our finances from our faith life. It’s as if we say something like, “God, be Lord of my life, in every area of my life. But, not the money part, Lord. I can handle that on my own.” In this attitude, we downplay what God tells us in the Bible. Being obedient to the Bible and giving what God calls us to give is a challenge for us.
I love how our church provides leadership and teaching on this important issue. She teaches us what to do and how to be in her definition of stewardship: We are to receive God’s gifts gratefully, manage them well, and share them in love and justice with our neighbor. We humbly acknowledge that God gives us everything we have. In overwhelming gratitude for all of His blessings, we are to make an appropriate return to God. So we ask, like the Psalmist in Psalm 116:12, “How can I repay the LORD for all the great good done for me?”
Trust and Give
The answer is that as stewards, as disciples of Jesus, we are to give of our entire self. We are called to give courageously of all of our Time, Talent, AND Treasure. The Church calls this “sacrificial” giving. Sacrificial giving asks us to step out in faith, trusting that God loves us and will provide for us, and give in amounts that are at the edge of what we can afford, amounts that make us dependent on God. For some, this might be $10 per week. For others, it might be ten-percent of income. A few might find it means giving tens of thousands. We are all called to eagerly and joyfully do what we can do (2 Cor 8:12).
Think about it – what would our world look like if we all gave in amounts that truly reflect how God blesses us? We’d learn that we can trust God, we can depend on HIm, and that He provides. Our lives would change for the good. We’d gain a sense of peace of mind that is beyond understanding. We’d want to give even more. Our parishes would then have even more resources available to feed the poor, clothe and house the needy, educate children, and help the vulnerable – the aged, the single parents. Our communities would change for the good. If we all would give like this all over the country, how many more people fed, clothed, housed, tended to? We would change the world!
It comes down to #faith. Do you believe and #trust that God can do more for you with 90% of your income than you can do for yourself with 100%? Do you believe that you will accomplish more by giving God ten-percent of your time, than you could accomplish if you try to manage all of your time on your own?