THE SERVANT GENERAL
"Accursed or Blessed?"
October 13, 2010
Some today say that tithing in no longer relevant,
because it is something that belongs to the Old
Testament, but we are now living in New Testament
times. Yes and no (I will explain shortly). They
say that there is no teaching in the Bible in the
New Testament about tithing. This is not the case.
tithing is not explicitly taught in the New Testament,
today’s reading gives us Jesus’ own
word on tithing. He criticizes the Pharisees for
paying tithes on mint and rue and every garden herb,
but pay no attention to judgment and love for God.
In other words, their religious observance was external
and legalistic, but they were not living out the
righteousness of God. Now note what Jesus then says.
“These you should have done, without overlooking
the others.” (Lk 11:42). In other words, live
in the righteousness of and love for God (“these”),
but do not neglect to tithe (“others”).
why is there no other mention of tithing in the
New Testament, if tithing is so important? This
was so because tithing was well accepted. It was
being done. There was no controversy over it. There
was no dispute. Jesus and the apostles did not have
to speak or write about tithing, because it was
already simply taken for granted as a given. It
was well ingrained in the life of God’s people.
this is no longer the case. Very few Catholics tithe.
Even fewer clerics teach about tithing. In the Christian
world today, compared to other Christians, Catholics
are those who give the least to the Church or for
Tithing is not only still relevant today, but is
necessary in order to fuel mission.
there is a sense in which we can say that tithing
is no longer relevant. It is in the sense that it
has been supplanted by the law of love and giving
all of oneself to God. Tithe was an obligation to
give ten percent of one’s income to God. Once
you have given your tithe, in theory you could just
spend the rest of the 90% on yourself and whatever
you wanted. But now we are called on to give our
all to God. Everything belongs to God. We are not
just to return 10% to Him, but 100%--of our time,
our talent, our treasure, our very selves. We are
God’s servants and slaves. We own nothing,
and we owe everything to Him.
other words, the tithe limited our giving! Now,
there is no limit to what we ought to return to
God. How indeed can we put a cap to the extent of
our love for God? So now we look not just to 10%,
but to a greater part of our income, beyond what
we use for our basic needs.
Now Paul taught the Corinthians about the Spirit
and the flesh, how the two are opposed to each other.
We either live according to the Spirit, or we live
according to the flesh. Now look at his list of
the works of the flesh. He includes “acts
of selfishness” (Gal 5:20).
could be more selfish than not giving to God what
is His due? If we are supposed to tithe (10%), or
if we are to give God our all, and we do not, without
good reason, then we are selfish. Nay, Malachi says
we are thieves! Indeed, we rob God of what belongs
to Him. When we do so, we are accursed! (Mal 3:9).
we are accursed not only because we are robbing
God, but we are accursed because we would be living
in the flesh, and that has grave consequences. Paul
gives us a very stern warning: “I warn you,
as I warned you before, that those who do such things
will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal
5:21). How serious our failure to tithe is! We might
prevent the very goal that we have in life, to make
it to heaven.
contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is .... generosity
....” (Gal 5:22). In reality, to tithe is
not even to be generous, because it is an obligation.
When we tithe, we should not expect thanks, because
we have just done our duty. If we go beyond a tithe,
then perhaps that is when we can consider ourselves
a bit generous, though whatever we give is still
all in reality belonging to God.
Are you selfish or generous? Do you rob God or do
you give Him your all? Are you accursed or blessed?
Are you living in the flesh or in the Spirit?
look at how you handle your money and what you give
back to God through your Christian community for
its mission. There you may find your answer.
starters (for household meetings):
1) Do you give regularly (that is, monthly)
to CFC-FFL for its mission, aside from what
you give to your parish?
2) Will you consider working up your giving
to a full tithe (10% of after-tax income)?