By AGNES HULSEY, Special To The Bulletin | Published October 23, 2008
My home is in the South—often called the Bible Belt because we hear so much about Bible study classes, living by the Bible and preaching straight from the Bible. Another admirable custom of this area is the practice of Christians “giving testimony” on their beliefs in order to strengthen the faith of others.
Tithing is a belief I’ve held for a long time and practiced for about six years. Ever since I started it I’ve wanted to write an article sharing my newfound treasure with others. This is what I’m doing now, and what more logical form could my story take than merely “giving testimony”?
Tithing strongly attracted me for several reasons. One overpowering reason was that it seemed a simple way to satisfy a Christian requirement by giving 10 percent of our income to God to help our church and others.
Shortly after I went back to work, my husband retired on disability and our income was reduced rather substantially. But we manage beautifully. We don’t have a house full of luxuries, but we don’t have any money problems either. We have moved to a larger, more comfortable home, we have a car several years old which we purchased new, and we have taken some rather interesting trips in recent years—one to the picturesque town of Key West, Fla.
If tithing changed our lifestyle in any way, it has made it better.
A Step In Faith
Another appeal tithing held out to me was: Take a step in faith. Most of us never reach the point in life where the income is so much larger than the outgo that tithing is easy. As I mentioned I began tithing after I went back to work. However, one year and three months later, my husband was retired, and our combined incomes since have equaled what his salary alone would have been if he had continued to work. But in addition to having enough to live on, we have the added bonus of peace of mind.
The step to start tithing must be taken on faith alone. There are no visible signs it will work for one before he tries it … no written guarantees, no interest computations, no rewards like gold medals, or even “I Gave To God” buttons to wear. Tithing presents a direct challenge to put your money where your heart is.
After giving personal testimony of my own experience, I can only suggest that others consider these brief thoughts on why I think tithing should be practiced.
We should support what we believe. Our church should be budgeted into our net income. Our obligation to God, who never fails us, is as serious as our obligation to the electric company, the gas company or the mortgage company, who fail us if we don’t come up with the monthly payment. Yet we never ask ourselves, “Can I afford to pay for my electricity this month—or should I just forget about it?”
God is more important than a telephone or an electric light or a water faucet.
We should be more trusting of God’s promises. The saddest story I read in the paper this year was about a man in Florida who had tithed but was suing his church for a sum—I believe about $700—because he felt he had not received the blessing his pastor promised.
However, the story had a happy ending. In a follow-up story, I read of a man in Texas who was repaying the church. In his statement, he said he felt sorry for anyone who donated expecting things on his own terms. He added that he and his wife had shared what they had with God for over 30 years of their marriage and that they had found God honored those who honored him.
Agnes Hulsey wrote this column for the Sunday Visitor over 30 years ago. Now retired and living in Clermont, she is a parishioner at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Cleveland.
Sunday, Oct. 26, is Treasure Commitment Sunday for parishes in the Archdiocese of Atlanta.