Giving Joyfully

Posted on May 17th, 2011

Being a pastor's family, I don't know if I should admit this, but my husband and I disagree over whether one's tithe (the traditional 10% of gross income one "gives back to God" through religious or other charitable organizations) should all go to the church, with other, smaller donations to other charities on top of that, or whether the tithe should be distributed to a variety of missional causes, including the church.

Matt feels strongly about tithing specifically to the church, but being the gracious, egalitarian husband that he is, he suggested that since I feel differently, we each give our tithe as we see fit. So long as 10% of his income goes back to the church, I can distribute 10% or more of my income to a variety of ministries meeting needs around the world.

We started this new system about six months ago, and I have to say, I LOVE IT!

Viewing my giving almost like a debit account ("ok, I have X amount left to give in the next year") rather than like a bill to pay ("ok, we have to write this month's check for X amount") makes it flexible and fun. When I hear about a sudden, urgent need, I can respond immediately, generously, and joyfully.

There is certainly something to be said for the discipline of writing a monthly check to your local congregation (and we do that as well), but I love being able to give spontaneously and more generously than I would if I were already giving 10% of my income to the church. One of the main scriptures that drives my giving (in addition to "whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me" Matt. 25:40) is "Give to all who ask of you" Matt. 5:42. I don't really give to ALL who ask of me (in fact, I avoid answering the phone when I think it is a telemarketer), but I do like to respond to a wide variety of needs, and I am glad to have found a way to do so with great freedom and joy.

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