Saturday, July 12, 2008Do I tithe on...?
From time to time I am asked whether an item should be tithed. Two such items have come up regularly recently. The first is an easy one, the second is more complicated.
Many people asked me whether they should tithe on the recent Economic Stimulus Package payment that many of us received, usually $600 a person. (Shelley and I call it the George W. Bush Endowment for the Arts, as we are using it to fund Shelley's stop-motion animation art project.) The key is in the description. Despite the fact that my bank statement called it a tax refund, it was in fact a "free" handout from the Government and thus an increase, and thus should be tithed on.
I am also asked, increasingly, whether to tithe on Social Security checks. As mentioned this is more complex and here is how I break it down:
If one has tithed on their gross pay all one's working life then there is a case for tithing on
half the amount. This is because, as I understand it, the Government is just returning what a person has had deducted. Therefore they need to tithe on what their employer contributed, hence tithing on half.
If one has tithed on their net pay (after deductions) then they need to tithe on the whole amount they receive for Social Security.
If one has tithed on the gross for only a portion of their working life they will need to decide on a proportional amount to tithe on that resonates with them.
The big caveat I have is that in calculating the tithe, if it is not simple, often the joy can go out of the process. To me the joyfulness of giving is essential and integral to the process. So don't lose track that you are giving to God out of gratitude and let that joy fill you.
I hope this is clear. If you have another way to look at what I have written above, please feel free to share it with us all.