Only One-Percent.

one-percentFor approximately 4,000 years, the biblical tithe has been the standard by which people of faith have measured their giving for God’s work. It is also “the minimum goal of giving” officially adopted by The United Methodist Church. The standard calls for us to return to God ten percent of all that He has so graciously given us—our time, our talent, and our treasure (i.e., our gross household income). Those who practice tithing speak glowingly of how their lives have been enriched by this discipline, and how they seem to have more when they give generously than they did when they were trying to keep more for themselves.

While every Christian is expected to tithe, not everyone has yet reached this level of dedication. An effective way to move forward in the journey “toward, to, and beyond” the tithe is to increase our giving by at least one percent every year, until we reach the goal of ten percent. Using the Proportional Giving Worksheet provided with this year’s stewardship materials, you can calculate your current level of giving as a percentage of your gross household income. Then increase the amount of your financial pledge for next year by at least one percent. Do the same calculation with your allocation of time and talent for God’s work. This will allow you to determine where you are as compared with the biblical standard, and will enable you to adopt a plan that will increase your level of total giving in manageable increments, as you move “toward, to, and beyond” tithing as an individual or family discipline.

Giving to God’s work is not about the church’s needs or budget. Our responsibility to give back to God in response to His loving generosity to us is a matter of our personal relationship with God. It is a matter of our spiritual wellbeing. The church is a vehicle for accomplishing the work of God. It is we who actually accomplish that work through our giving. We give through the church, not to the church. We are called to use all that God has given us in service to others. The tithe is a way of measuring our response to that call.

The biblical standard may seem difficult, even unreachable, but it is not. As one person expressed it: “I don’t understand why tithing is so difficult. We get to keep ninety percent!”