My wife, Alissa, and I got married back in January of 2011. After getting back from our beautiful honeymoon, we began to organize our two lives into one. We got everything ready to change her last name, sorted out closet space (you can guess who lost that battle), and combined our finances. Yep. Hold on to your hats. We got to do that exciting thing everyone knows and loves: budgeting! (I'm sure you can barely contain yourself.)
As we sat down to write out our first budget, we ran into a problem right away: how much should we tithe? We knew that we were called to give 10%, but our question was: Is that before or after taxes? After some dialogue, we decided that God deserved our money first: before the government, before our savings account, and before anything else we needed.
While this would stretch us a little bit more, we knew we needed to trust Him with all aspects of our marriage, including our finances.
Why We Tithe
One of the greatest temptations that we face as human begins is to be selfish. It can be easy for us to get caught up in our own personal needs and wants, but God calls us to something greater. 1 John 3:16 says, 'The way we came to know Love was that He laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.'
Read that verse again. It doesn't say lay down part of our lives. It says lay down our lives, and that means everything, including our money.
For us this hasn't been easy. As we currently seek to purchase our first home, it would be nice to have that extra money to put toward our down payment. But God doesn't promise this life to be easy. He asks us to trust, and that's what we do.
The Greater Community
Who are these 'brothers' that we are called to lay down our lives for? As Catholics, we may attend a local parish, but we are actually part of one big community, the universal Church. So our 'brothers' aren't just our family nor are they just our local community. Our 'brothers' can be anyone, as God has created us all. This means that we need to take care of each other and tithing is a good way to help our fellow man.
Even though our tithing has been a sacrifice, my wife and I have found great reward in it. We've prayed about and discerned giving to charities that are important to our hearts. Along with our local parish, we also give to an organization called Friends of the Orphans, which allows us to help those who are less fortunate, and Immaculate Heart Radio, which allows us to play a small role in the Church's evangelization efforts. We also save a little bit in a tithing fund that we can use throughout the year as needs in the community arise.
To be good stewards of all that God has blessed us with, we are supposed to offer our time, talent, and treasure. When I was younger, I found it easy to give the first two, but I held back when it came to my money. While offering time and talent is great, it's only 2/3 of the equation, and my wife and I decided that we are either going to be 100% Catholic or not at all.
As a teenager, this world desperately needs you to be willing to lay down your life for the good of the community and your fellow man. It's time to stop making excuses. Whether you like it or not, tithing is a part of being Catholic. Take time to pray about the money that you have and who could be best served by it. If you don't know where to start, try your local parish, or find an organization that is important your heart.
And remember the words of Malachi 3:10, 'Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse. That there may be food in my house, and try me in this, says the Lord of hosts: Shall I not open for you the floodgates of heaven, to pour down blessing upon you without measure?'
The sacrifice may be difficult, but the reward is eternal.