is 10% a taboo number?

I think more than the idea of tithing the amount one tithes is where it gets tricky. Frame a tithe as “we as members of the church should support the local church” and people are on board. Set a number and they get weird.

No one likes to be told how to spend their money. And for all the talk about how all we have is God’s, they are still the gate keeper. Everyone has their interpretation of how God wants their money spent. It’s a deeply personal thing which people often don’t want any input on.

And since I’m a man who respects and understand how deeply personal this is…I’m going to tell you how much you should give.

Start at 10%.

The big key in the sentence is START at 10%. It ties into the why we tithe from Monday, but if you commit to giving as a way of breaking money’s hold on you and showing your support for the local church I think just how I encouraged you to start with giving to the church we start at 10%, then go up.

Yes it’s Old Testament and yes we’re not forced to do it but I think the plan Jesus had when He abolished the law and called us to live by grace was not for us to regress to less than the law.

Often when I talk with folks about how we don’t have to tithe 10% because we are called to live by grace and not law it segues in to them not giving. It’s the reason why they don’t have to give. It’s the little gilt valve release that lets them hold their money.

“Well I haven’t felt Jesus call me to give recently so we’ve just been waiting for God to speak.”

“I’m just in a season where I can’t give and you know I think God has placed me here. I’m being faithful to the commitments (read debts) I have and God will honour that.”

I can’t recall a case where someone has argued that they are not tied to a tithe and then followed that statement up with how they are now giving more. If your giving more you won’t argue over if you must give 10%. You’ll probably say while it’s not a rule it’s probably not a bad idea because you get that it’s not about the number but the heart and that discipline helps the heart.

Bruxy made the point that grace calls us to deeper and greater commitment. Love your enemy kind of stuff. So wouldn’t it stand to reason that grace would call us to deeper generosity, or MORE than 10%?

Giving and generosity is a discipline. It’s hard to do sometimes and needs to be worked at and committed to. It’s not something we do when convenient. I think the commitment of a tithe sets our hearts and actions in line to the discipline of generosity. A tithe is the starting point of a generous life. We start there and go forward with more generosity. It is a good start to break the hold money has on us and our excuse making over why we can give.

For context, shortly after my wife and I got married we ran into some tricky financial times. I got laid off from my full time job and Sarah only worked part time while in a full time master’s program. We had two cars, a mortgage and all the expense of life.

So I get not being able to afford it, I really do.

But it still needs to happen to keep your heart and your actions in line with this life Jesus has called us to, which generosity is an important aspect.

We could have stepped back and said “God has blessed us with this house and these cars. We need to stop giving so we can afford the blessings God has given us. We will in the long run waste so much more of God’s money if we give up our home or car and have to buy it back. We wouldn’t be good stewards of what God has given us. This is a season where we can’t give but when it gets better we will.”

But we committed to giving back to God what He’s given us. We were blessed in such a way that we didn’t have to give up those things, but that was by no means a guarantee. We could have lost a car or our house. And admittedly that would have been a far harder discussion about tithing at that point. I’d like to think I’d have kept tithing but I don’t know.

Maybe you’re in that spot between giving and heat. I don’t have an easy answer for you. It’s a cop out on my end. I think you should give but I’m not you in your place. I’d love to hear your side about it.

But more than likely if you’re reading this on a computer with internet things might be tight but it’s not a choice between giving and paying your hydro. It’s between do we keep eating out or give? It’s between do we buy new clothes because ours are tired or give? It’s between do I have cable or give? It’s between fulfilling your desire and fulfilling the desires of Jesus.

I think Jesus is clear that as a follower of Him giving and generosity must be a part of your life, poverty or not.

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money, money, money!

I decided I wanted pick a really easy topic for this week, so we’re going to talk about money all week!

See nice and easy. No one’s every gotten upset about money before right? I’m sure I read that somewhere.

Look, money’s touchy. We talk around it, we talk about it in abstract terms but rarely in a way that creates accountability. We don’t want anyone telling us what we should do with our hard earned money.

We have commitments and responsibilities and you don’t know what I’m dealing with so don’t tell me what to do.

Any of that sound familiar?

We are talking about money and to be honest if you don’t like it, tough. It’s an important topic.

I think one of the things we need to break when it comes to money is that is ours.

I know we’ve all heard it and if asked in church we’d say “everything I own is Gods” or something like.

No it’s not.

It’s supposed to be but it’s not. No worries, it’s a process.

One thing that we lack however is how to we begin or grow in the process of giving everything over to God. We know it’s all supposed to be God’s but I don’t feel like we have real tangible ways to start.

Here’s a start for you to try. It’s more about changing your perspective and getting you thinking than it is about huge monolithic change so don’t get too worried.

Think about your average week (reflection) and look at how you spend your money. Is there one thing you could change about how you spend (action)?

For me it was coffee. Ah, so dark, so delicious, so caffeiney. Caffeiney’s a word right? I’m just going to assume you agreed with me and move on.

At one point in my life I bought coffee almost every day. I was young and had some free dollars to spend. So to get my head in the right space about who’s money it was and get me to be more generous I started giving my coffee money away.

Some days that looked like be buying coffee for someone else. Some days it was me not buying coffee so I’d have some money to be generous in another way.  Some days I forgot and just bought myself coffee.

It didn’t cost me any more than I was already spending. I didn’t give up coffee at all and I’m not asking you to stop what you’re doing, just change it. Yes I had to drink coffee at work which wasn’t as nice but my budget didn’t change one cent

My mind however changed a bunch.

It just gets you thinking about money. It gets you thinking about how much you actually have and how you spend it and ultimately who’s money it really is.

Maybe you cut back eating out by one time a week. Maybe you buy 1 coffee a day instead of 2. Maybe you buy a sweat at the consignment store and give the difference away. Maybe you decide that you won’t by brand name groceries and donate the difference to the food bank.

I’m not asking you to change your budget, yet, just how you spend within it.

I’m asking you to start thinking about what the spending of a person who lives a compassionate life would look like and I think this is a good start.

the uncomplicated can still be hard

Today’s post was not coming together.

I started and stopped 4 times and changes topics 3 times. It just wouldn’t write.

My ideas wouldn’t come together. I’d get half way through and say “what am I writing about? Are these even sentences?”

I was sitting at my computer telling myself to just tell a story, any story, get something out. But then I’d step back and look and realize that I was rambling in what may or may not be sentences with absolutely no succinct thought. This post was far from perfect and I was wondering if it going to do all the things I wanted it to?

Then I thought about how we approach relationships.

For something so central to our existence sometimes they’re just hard and especially at the start!

I’ve been asking you to engage in relationship. I’ve been asking you to talk to your co-workers, neighbours, those who come into your life.

So what do I have for you today?

Sometimes it’s going to be hard, kind of like a post that won’t write. There will be looooooooong awkward pauses. You’ll say something silly and think about it for the rest of the day wondering if they’ll ever talk to you again. You’ll make mistakes, over step the depth of the relationship, talk when you should listen, and push when someone needs support to stand.

But relationships, like this post, take work. You might have to push through some tough spots, apologise for mistakes, go back to the start and try again.

Is it extremely insightful to say that relationships are hard? No.

But sometimes I need someone to tell me that it’s just a part of the process. They make mistakes too and that’s all a part of honest real relationships building.

Give yourself a break. This stuff isn’t complicated but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard.

is this enough?

I feel like there is a natural end to what we’ve been talking about this week.

We’ve been looking at what we should do and how we know if it ‘counts’. We’ve looked at how we should start to shape our lifestyle related to compassion. But there is one very obvious question that I’m sure you’ve thought of.

How much of this do I have to do?

Common, you’ve wondered.

You want to check it off your list, “yup I’ve doing all my required compassion work to be a good Christian. 3 volunteer opportunities a month. Done and done!”

Maybe it’s not that direct. Maybe it’s “I don’t have any time. How much of this do I NEED to do to be ok?”

It seems like the logical finish to this week.

The problem is that is topic is crazy complicated.

We can talk about seasons of life, the calling God has placed on you, how engaged you are now, etc.

We can talk about what Jesus has said when it comes to the great commission to go out and make disciples (Matthew 28:16-20), we can talk about forgiving 70 times 7 (Matthew 18:22), etc.

Here’s my take, do with it what you want.

I think in general we don’t do enough. We’ll talk about why we don’t in the future but I think we usually don’t. I think if you’re anything like me you’re on a journey to see how this all works practically in your life. That’s a growing process.

I started out wanting to volunteer more and build more relationships. Then recently I sat down with my wife, feeling like we did at the start. Like we were missing God and not living in community the way God had called us.

The funny thing is that we were still doing all the things we decided to start doing at the beginning of this process.  We were doing all the things we thought that if we did we’d have it all sorted.

We’d be loving enough, giving enough, serving enough.

But as we did it we found it only depend our commitment or sense of need to do it more.

Peter Rollins has a parable where Jesus meets a group of followers.  I’m paraphrasing here but the story goes that this group is known for going above and beyond. As opposed to the rule of the day where they had to carry the pack of a Roman Officer for one mile if asked this group would carry it two.

The parable ends with Jesus saying “I’m so sorry you misunderstood. If your rule is to carry their pack 2 miles then I’m calling you to carry it 3.”

Ultimately Jesus is always calling us into more. Into deeper relationship, stronger community, and more of Him. Little by little we need to give it all over.

So are you doing enough? Probably not, but that’s ok neither am I.

You and I are on a journey together to be more engaged with the call Jesus placed on everyone one of His followers. That’s why I created this space. That’s what this space is about.

Don’t be discouraged that you’re not there yet. Be encouraged that there is more of Jesus to find, that He still has more for you and more your life can be.