Who benefits most when we give generously?
Last week I preached a sermon on tithing. I think it was a pretty
good sermon. But I left out one very important point that I wished I
had covered. I wish I had told the members that I don't care if they
tithe to the church, just that they tithe.
When I mentioned that point to the council of my last church, one of
the council members who did tithe to the church got angry. "The
church needs the money," she said. Well, okay, that may be true, but
there are several reasons why I say I don't care to what good cause
people give their tithe.
First and foremost, I did not preach that sermon on tithing for the
sake of the church's budget or my salary. I preached that sermon for
the sake of the people whom I was challenging to tithe. I believe
Jesus is calling them -- and all of us -- to tithe and more. I
believe Jesus is calling us them lives of incredible generosity. And
Jesus is calling them to it for the same reason I am: For their sake.
There is incredible joy in a life of generosity.
I have long maintained that it was not for the sake of the poor that
Jesus told the man (in Luke 18:18-25 ) to sell all his possessions and
give alms, but rather it was for the sake of the rich man's soul.
Besides, if I had a whole congregation of tithers I am sure that there
would always be enough for whatever God called us to do even if only a
portion of their tithe came to the church.
There is concern that with all the disaster relief going on, other
good causes will be short-changed. I worry that the woman I helped
with heating bills last winter will go without because someone else
got the money that she is going to need in February. I am trusting
that God will open some hearts to help me help her when the time
I know that when we all begin to open our hearts and our pocket books
to meet the needs of others, which to me only begins with a tithe,
then there will be enough to do the work that God calls us to and to
care for the people God has entrusted into our care.
Then we will begin to know the joy of living in God's abundance.
Help us to know that helping us to give is one of your ways of helping
us to live.
2005, The Rev. Dana Reardon. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Email her at
The Rev. Dana Reardon is pastor at St.
Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church, Warwick, RI. A lifelong Lutheran, she
came to ordained ministry after 21 years in nursing, mostly in pediatric
intensive care. She graduated from Lutheran Theological Seminary at
Philadelphia in 1998 and served 4 ½ years in Upstate New York before
becoming a New Englander. She is still trying to understand the
accent. While in the Upstate New York Synod she chaired the Stewardship
Team. That began her fascination with what makes stewards -- and more,
what makes for generosity.
has three amazing daughters: Pastor Reardon says much of what she knows of
life she learned from them.