"A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed."
- Proverbs 11:25
The series on spiritual disciplines continues this week on tithing and other forms of giving. If you've missed the prior disciplines they remain available on our website. Giving is a very personal topic and the particulars can remain private, but it is an important spiritual discipline that deserves our attention. Different faiths and churches interpret the spiritual discipline differently, but most include some form of giving to others.
For some, it is a matter of how and when to give. We receive many requests from organizations and individuals. Our giving is between us and God, but others do end up involved as we make our choices. Some faiths refer to giving alms. That is a practice of giving to the poor, most often directly. We can do this collectively, too. At Ascension we give alms through clergy discretionary funds. This method helps us to become more involved than when we give in passing. Giving alms is an acknowledgment of our own blessings and helping those less fortunate.
Giving to the church is in some ways an "all-in-one" approach. Money received by the church supports ministry. Some goes to direct services through outreach, while other supports all the various ministries of the church. We can offer alms and give back to the community while also sustaining and supporting a ministry together. The upcoming annual meeting is a time when the budget is shared and we can consider how our total funds are being allocated.
As to tithing, it refers to a specific practice of giving one-tenth of one's income. For many it seems an impossible standard. No matter one's income, a tithe shows that giving is a priority. When I find that someone tithes, I always try to ask about their practice, when they started, what it has meant to them. There are too many stories to recount here, but each time I am moved by powerful stories of the experiences shared.