"I am the vine; you are the branches." — John 15:5

Wednesday, February 28 2018

I’ve got sixpence, jolly, jolly sixpence,
I’ve got sixpence to last me all my life.
I’ve got sixpence to spend and sixpence to lend;
and sixpence to send home to my wife, poor wife.
Chorus: No cares have I to grieve me, no pretty little girls to deceive me, I’m happy as a lark, believe me, as we go rolling, rolling home.
Rolling home, rolling home, by the light of the silvery moon; Happy is the day when a soldier gets his pay; As we go rolling, rolling home.

I wonder if the sixpence included Sunday’s offering? The Lenten invitation includes observing the season by ‘almsgiving’.  An honest look concerning the amount we give to the church, and all ministries which benefit the ‘poor’, which then leads to action, is an appropriate discipline for any time of year and one frequently avoided! ‘Tithing’ is a practice upon which mature Christians model their gift. The tithe under Mosaic law is specifically mentioned in the Books of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. The concept  is simple.  Give 1/10th of all your wealth to God, first.  That simplicity has been challenged as people  try to  justify their reluctance…Does it mean before or after taxes, net or gross?  The answer is ‘yes’!  Jesus frequently talked about money.  “Where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21) Nor did St. Paul avoid stewardship sermons: “Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to provide you with every blessing…”(2 Corinthians 9:7f)

Oh, how we struggle with to whom our money belongs. And many would say that tithing is just the starting point! God is patient with us in this area of our spiritual life, as well as every other, but the encouragement to think on these things is always there.  For example: If your annual income is $36,000. then 10% is $300. a month or $3,600 a year.  Is your income more than $36,000. a year but you give far less?

The following story provides a certain perspective: A man once made a covenant with his parish priest, and with God, to tithe ten percent of his income every year.  With his first ten thousand dollars, he gave the church one thousand dollars.  The year he earned one-hundred thousand, he tithed ten thousand dollars and one- hundred thousand dollars the year he earned one million. But the year he earned six million dollars he just could not bring himself to write out that check for six-hundred thousand dollars to the church.  He telephoned the priest and begged to be let out of the covenant, saying, “This tithing business has to stop. It was fine when my tithe was one thousand dollars, but I just cannot afford six-hundred thousand dollars. Can you release me from this promise?”  The priest prayed and the man said “Well, am I released?”  “No, I can’t do that but I can pray that God will reduce your income back to the level where one thousand dollars will be your tithe!”

“Blessed are those who tithe, for they shall understand God’s generosity.”