Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tithes & Taxes

"Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is
Jesus said in Matthew

So this post about tithes and taxes won't leave me alone in my brain, so I'd better write it out.

The end of the year -- specifically today being December 31, 2008 -- has me thinking about earning more than enough money to pay Uncle Sam by April 15, 2009, and that's forefront in my mind.

I created a spreadsheet detailing everything I've earned, expensed, donated and all other things taxable so I know about how much I'll pay the government come Springtime.

"How much should I give, God?" I hovered over the amount field on, my church's website, yesterday.

The amount I put in was more than I'd listed on my spreadsheet in advance, but it was right.

I hope.

Because even though I realized that the amounts we give each year only factor in a portion to make for a better tax situation, there's still the tithing test to pass.

Believe me, my Maker has dealt with me over this issue -- asking hard questions like: "Are you treating tithing like a spiritual lottery?" and "If you never got anything back from it, would you still give?"

I didn't tithe for 30 years...

...or thereabout. The first 30 years of my life, that is.

I remember seeing the word "tithe" on the right-hand side of the sanctuary at St. Edmund's Parochial School in Chicago where I grew up, but since we didn't really go to church, I didn't really know what tithing was.

Finally in 1999, after my mother died suddenly and I started going to church for solace regularly, I learned more about what God thought about giving.

So I gave here and there, eventually giving 10% or so -- until the day I took at $25, 000 or more lump-sum distribution from my 401k plan to move to California.

"There's no way I'm writing a check for $2,500 or more bucks," I kind of thought silently to myself, still in Ohio, sitting at The House of the Lord in Akron trying to listen to the choir sing.

"To Him Who sits on the throne, and unto the Lamb," they sang, joyfully swelling to the "be all blessings and power and glory forever" part.

I slumped down farther in the pew.

I couldn't praise. I felt low. I knew my Keeper wanted me to write that check.

I did.

It's been pretty much gravy ever since.

Which is not to say everything's perfect...

...obviously I still have debt.

But thank Him it's going in the right direction, downward, though I'd like it to go there faster.

And yes, I have days like today when I silently question the Prince of Peace as to why some people with goo-gobs of money never give one thin dime to any church or "nan" poor people and seem to have such a grand old time.

Then He reminds me how good I really do have it compared to some hurting folks out there...

And the Wonderful Counselor counsels that it's not over.

So I know about the Sweet Sixteen party and the 50 LV purses or whatever other drama and feedback people can try and refute the One Who will contend with those who contend with me can bring up.

But I've also seen first-hand moms standing in long, hot lines in this past summer with their kids just to get free hotdogs.

I was blest enough to be able to say, "I'm not waiting in this line -- let's go to McDonalds."

And to keep it that way, I give.

And pray I always do.

I want to come to a better end of my life than Schindler did when he ran around saying, "This car, this car could've been a life -- this watch, this watch could've been another life."

Because deep inside of me, I already know, like it took Solomon a lifetime to realize, that we can count it all up as vanity...


Gesunde Ernährung said...

I remember a joke about tithing. An altar boy who collects church donation got tempted and to ease his conscience he said whatever remains in the air after he toss the money will go to heaven and the coins that fall is for him. I still can't understand this thing called tithing because I find some church leaders who are not transparent in their safe keeping method.

Paula Neal Mooney said...

Yes, I totally understand.

I like giving to the places where I can mostly SEE my money going to help improve things and lives.

Christian Children's Fund sends me pics and updates of the children I sponsor -- and I communicate with the actual families in writing and see how their lives are improving.

At the Word Church, I can see the actual progress being made and what they're doing with the tithes: giving away thousands of gym shoes and school supplies and $20,000 or more worth of free gas to people who needed it.

They also gave a family a furnished house in 2008, and gave away 3 cars that same year.

In 2009, Pastor RA Vernon wants to do more along those lines.

He grew up poor and has a heart for people growing up that way, and wants people to have food to eat -- so they give away bags of groceries, too.

I've been blessed enough to have food at the ready all my life, so at least I can try and filter some money and energy to people who are suffering now and not turn a blind eye.

Paula Neal Mooney