Parting with money is very difficult for me unless it is for something that directly affects my life. Buying food, drink, tickets, clothing and everything else I think I need to live my life is very easy. The difficulty lies in giving money to others or organizations.
As a child my family attended the Midwest Boulevard Christian Church, a member of the Disciples of Christ denomination. Every Sunday the collection plate would be passed down the pew and my father would place a small envelope containing some mysterious amount of money in it. I recall only a few times when I placed anything in the plate but the times I did gave me a feeling of fulfillment. I remember hearing about tithing but I never really understood what it meant until I was in my teens, or maybe even later.
Tithing has taken on several connotations over the centuries. In "biblical" times it meant giving 10 percent of your income to the priests and prophets. In the Middle Ages it meant giving 10 percent of what you had to the King. In modern times I believe it just means giving to charity. A good friend of mine, who is a christian, used to tithe to her church until she found that the leaders of the church were using the money for their own personal gain. She then began tithing to people she knew who were in need of help. I have always admired her for this but was not ready to follow her example.
I have recently given money to a few organizations whom I think are worthy of my hard earned dollars. One organization is my local NPR affiliate station, KUAF. I figure that if I-wake up every morning to "Morning Edition", tune the radio at work to "Talk of the Nation", drive home to "Fresh Air", and fall asleep to either "Performance Today" or the classical music feed-that I'd best pony up the bucks to support them.
The other organization I have given to is the National Organization for Women. This group fights hard for women's rights and, being a woman, I feel it is important to give them my support.
The only other giving I've done recently was a few bucks to a homeless man asking for help in Fayetteville.
All of this "giving" has not come close to being 10 percent of my income but I don't really think tithing requires that. I believe that giving money AND time should count equally and I have been contemplating donating my time to something worthwhile, like our local food bank. I admit that I am the worlds worst volunteer but surely I can spare a few hours to sort food and stock shelves. Now that I've committed the words to "paper" I will have to act on them.
I need to heed the advise of Goethe who said: "Don't say that you want to give, but go ahead and give! You'll never catch up with a mere hope." Or in other words, get up off your ass and put your money (or time) where your mouth is. Yup, that sums it up!