Thursday, May 3, 2012

Not What I Expected: Tithing and the Poor Family Part 2

   Wow!  The response, both positive and negative, from my post on tithing has been overwhelming.  I've had support, dissension, dissension from supporters and support from those most vocally criticizing my article.  First and foremost I want to give my deepest thanks to my wife, my father-in-law Dan, Pastor Jon and Bryon McCoy for their insight and wisdom.  Even though things got heated it was a great learning tool for me and I hope that people who read it gained insight as well.  Since the last post was, um, engaging I thought I would continue the theme.

   In my home-schooled days before college I found myself fascinated by philosophy, and some of that thinking guides me to this day.  I am analytical and I enjoy discussion and thought relevant to a subject.  Learning is my primary passion in life and, at least in my opinion, philosophical thought is one of the best ways to handle subjects that empirical thought falls short on.  I read a book once, the title of which has escaped me, but the thing I remember was that it spoke of a three-part process for learning.  First was the "thesis" which I will consider my previous post.  Secondly you have to analyze it from the opposing point of view, this is the "antithesis".  After you have explored both, only then can you bring them together and form a "synthesis".  This will be my antithesis.


   Two weekends ago my daughter came up to me, upset because she doesn't have enough money to sponsor a tiger with the World Wildlife Fund.  She has been at it all spring and feels very passionate about helping animals.  She is also eight.  This child could get herself all sorts of toys with that $100 dollars but instead she is choosing to work this summer and give it all to charity.  Here I am struggling with a few bucks going here and there and my daughter wants to give everything she has, just so she can help an animal she will never know.  It is humbling, to say the least.

   My first reaction when she told me was to talk her out of it.  Isn't that a shame?  Here is a child trying to do a completely selfless act and her father wants her not to do it.  I got ready to arm myself, and started vetting the WWF but they seem to do what they say they are going to do for the most part.  That money may only symbolically go to a tiger but it still goes to aid animals all over the world.  Even if I told her that she would still want to give, yet I didn't feel any generosity.

   I grew up poor, there were times in my life that my family ate dried onion soup mix for weeks because it was all we could afford.  I've worked hard and though I still fall near the poverty line it is only because of the sacrifices my wife and I are making for her education.  It has been rough at times, and we owe people a lot for the generosity and giving that we've received.  Now isn't a great time for me to be generous, but maybe that makes it the best time to be.  I know that is a contradiction, but think about it.  If I give now when it hurts then when I am in a better position to give I won't feel as saddened to give more.  Instead I'll be joyous because there is more I can do.  Isn't it odd that in our lives we are always trying to teach people and end up learning more than we give?

   When you apply this to tithing... actually, no.  I am not going to use that word.  The New Testament isn't about law and requirement as much as it is about joy and hope.  Lets just call it giving.  I think that above word carries a connotation of requirement.  To me it feels like something you see in the opulence of Rome and the Catholic Church.  I guess for some reason I find that word oppresive.  So, giving, when we give without reservation it does feel good.  It is nice to know someone sleeps better tonight because of our generosity.  That is the true meaning of giving.  Taking what we don't need and bolstering those who do.  That doesn't have to be money or even material things, I think, though a warm meal or saving someone's house from the bank could mean more than anything else.  Some people just need you to give time, others maybe just need love and understanding.  It is all about asking God for the wisdom in every situation that there is need and how to give what is necessary without regard for yourself.  In Romans it is said that "love is the fulfillment of the law,"  but giving is part of love, so giving is part of the law.  That is what is all boils down to.


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