Although I’m well familiar with the concept of tithing and do my best to be a faithful tithe payer, yesterday I began thinking of this tenth in other ways besides money. The teacher did a fantastic job as he led the class in considering topics such as whether a person should pay tithing on her gross or net income, whether giving money to charitable causes such as United Way counts, and what exactly happens to tithed funds. Today I want to consider a type of tithing that wasn’t mentioned yesterday.
At some point in my life, I heard the phrase “time, money, and personality” used in reference to tithing, and yesterday found myself thinking about tithing our time. We all have the same amount of hours per week, 168. At the end of a week, how many of us have “tithed” our time? How many of us have spent 17 (let’s round the figure up, not down) serving others, worshipping God, or simply being kind to our fellowmen? I know people who are too rushed to pray, too busy to read the scriptures, and too tired to go to church. I’m no math whiz (just ask my family), but I know that multiplying 17 by 4 gives us 68, the number of hours per month that we should devote to serving and worshiping our Creator, the Giver of all good, the One who grants us breath from moment to moment and allows us to move and work and play.
So what does it mean? What can we count? Attending church counts. How many hours per month do you spend doing that per month? How many hours have you spent in scripture study, prayer, studying religious topics, performing services for others? Can we count our hours on the job if they’re spent being uplifting, kind, and generous? Does time spent blogging count if we’re writing about religious topics?
Sitting here at the computer this afternoon, I’m realizing that sometimes writing a tithing check is easier than giving a tenth of our time. And by the way, about whether to tithe on the gross or net income, a class member responded that it depends on whether we want to be blessed on the gross or the net.