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Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Ten Percent

Roughly a year ago, I found myself sitting at the coffee shop with my church-going friend, talked about many things about a Christian life, including tithing. Now, before we get into what we were discussing, let me share with you some backgrounds first. I was into Christianity as the church cared to explain about what was going then, ie. what life was like in Israel at that time, which helped to put things in perspective. This actually helped me to understand why Jesus said this or did that. The church I am attending is also shepherded by a pastor who knows how to preach in an engaging way, so it is great. You see, sermons are like physics, and I failed physics because it was boring. I'm more receptive when things are entertaining and our pastor is good at that. As for why tithing, well, I've always wanted to write about this topic from a layman's point of view since I first heard of it. 

Anyway, back to the coffee shop, tithing was the only the topic that had a lasting impression in my mind. It was a strange concept that was difficult to explain. The idea of giving something as real and concrete as cash to God, whom is nowhere to be seen but yet omnipresent, is kind of mind-boggling. Furthermore, God is supposed to be almighty, so what's the use of cash for our Father in heaven? At the same time, as we can't give it to God directly, the tithe actually goes to church. Who's to say that it's not going to be misused?

My friend managed to come to a conclusion that God always provides. He quoted his own life experience that, since he had given what belonged to God, he was assisted in the time of need (you'd notice that the stark difference between a believer or non-believer is, the former would simply call it lucky while the latter would say it was by God's grace that he made it through the hard time). Given the complexity of the subject, a more satisfying explanation came much later on, when the pastor preached about it for the second time (I seem to recall that he also talked about the same thing with a different approach last year). Here's the video of it (quite long, but pretty enjoyable, so sit back and relax):

The First Things First sermon by Pastor Jeff © Hope Church Singapore

Eventually, I learnt that it's not a matter of questioning the use of money for God, but it's more of giving back what is rightfully His to begin with. I don't see the point of doubting the church, because tithing is almost the same as donating: we give because we trust what our heart is telling us do and we stop there, because we've done our parts. If the institution or the church still misuses it, it's their problems, really, so why worry about something that is beyond our control? Karma will get them, anyway, if they don't do it right.

Now, back to the coffee shop again, the reason why the conversation we had lingers on my mind is, in its simplest form where you don't call it tithing, the act of giving can be seen a form of exercising mind control. I always fancy the idea that it's good to have money, alright, but it's bad when we get too clingy on it. You'll miss much of what's going on in life if you're too focus on money. Give it away, especially when the portion is not yours. It can be challenging because the amount will grow as one continues to earn more in life, but that's the fun part of it, because it makes you human. You'll come to a point of asking yourself whether you are the master or the slave of the money you have. Once we put back the original intention of tithing, it's good that we don't shortchange what belongs to the Almighty above. By the end of the day, in the material world we're living in, a clear conscience is the moral compass that we need to move forward in life...

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