Reflections on Caring and Giving

By Rev. Eugenia A. Gamble

This resource is intended for personal daily reflection, particularly during the month
preceding stewardship commitment Sunday. I developed it a couple of years ago at a time
my church was facing financial challenges. It helped the congregants think about their
relationship with money, God’s vision for how we use our resources and deepen spiritual
life and joy. Feel free to download, copy, and use as you see fit. I hope using it will bless
your congregations as it did mine! – EAG

Day 1: Malachi 3:10
Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus
put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for
you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.

Sometimes the very word ‘tithe’ can fill us with a mixture of confusion, guilt and
resentment. What is it? Why is it important? Is it still relevant today? Throughout the
Bible, the tithe refers to returning to God 10% of everything over which one has control,
financial resources, time, possessions, everything. Tithes went to support the faith
community, for the upkeep of the houses of worship, and those who served in them.
Offerings were gifts above the tithe that were given to meet special needs or to celebrate
special blessings. Sacrificial gifts were those made in order to make amends for
wrongdoing. The tithe had spiritual purposes as well. The requirement of 10% to support
the faith community was intended to ensure that the Temple was cared for and those who
served in it could dedicate themselves to that service without undue stress about their
livelihoods. The tithe was also instituted to make sure that the needs of the poor and
outcast were provided for and met. More even than that, though, the tithe was a gift of
grace from God. In this spiritual formula, for which we were created, we acknowledge
that everything that exists belongs to God. There is no individual ownership. All is
God’s. Out of God’s loving generosity, God tells us that 90% of all we have and acquire
is ours to do with as we see fit. Of course that 90% is to be used to further God’s aims, as
well, but it is still at our discretion. Before we begin the hard work of determining what
God would have us do with the 90%, we are to stop and set aside 10% to ensure that the
life of worship and service of the community are never in jeopardy. The principle of the
tithe allows us to put God’s work in the church first in our lives. The tithe is a place to
start in our giving. Not the ultimate ceiling. In his encounter with the Rich Man, Jesus
makes this clear when he tells him to go sell ALL and give to the poor. Still, statistics
show that most of us give barely more than 2% to our churches. And giving to churches
across the country has dropped by more than 7% in the last couple of years. What does
this say about our trust that God has designed a way of life that is right and perfect for
us? Malachi would say it makes us robbers, stealing from God what belongs to God and
has been designated for a purpose.

The prophet tells us that when we orient our lives around the sacred principles of
God, particularly the tithe, we unleash undreamed of possibilities and blessings in our
lives and in our faith communities. Perhaps your life circumstances and obligations make

tithing seem impossible right now. Don’t be too sure. Begin now to pray that God will
open a way for you to live into this Biblical command without undue hardship or stress to
you or others. God does not want you to be frightened or stressed. Ever. God will answer
this request and begin to make a way, perhaps by baby steps, for you to enter into the
harmony and joy of giving according to God’s formula.

Dear God, You know that we live in a time when ends don’t meet. Often, all we can do is
keep a roof over our heads, if we can do that. Help me today to ponder the spiritual
principle of the tithe and to open myself for you to make a way for me to do it. Be patient
and gentle with me, Lord. But push me a little, too so that I can live with courage and
trust according to your will. Help me to trust in your provision and live in joy and
harmony. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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