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FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
 
 

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

FINANCIAL STEWARDSHIP
(Part 2)

"Accursed or Blessed?"


October 13, 2010
Today’s readings:
Galatians 5:18-25
Luke 11:42-46

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.

While 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”).

But 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.

Today 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 God’s work.

Tithing is not only still relevant today, but is necessary in order to fuel mission.

However, 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.

In 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).

What 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).

But 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.

“In 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?

Just 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.


Discussion 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)?

 

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Financial Stewardship - Part 2[PDF]
 
 
 
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