A tithe of time
I remember when, as a young girl, I first heard about tithing. The thought of giving 10 percent of one’s income to God seemed unfathomable—that’s a ton of money, and besides, why does the Creator of the universe need something as petty as cash? It took a long, long time for me to really get the message: that all I have and all I am belongs to God, that “my” money is not my own but God’s, that He’s the owner and I’m just His manager.
Gone were the days of slipping a quick ten or twenty into the collection plate. Tithing was woven into my monthly budget, at first a formal act of obedience, but later for deeper reasons. Tithing now, for me, is a monetary acknowledgment that the Lord, not money, is my God. Turning my “firstfruits” over to God is a form of worship, of proclaiming God as king, of understanding generosity and humility are far more important than a padded bank account. When we tithe during tougher times, it’s also an act of faith—God will get me through. All I have to do is trust, obey, give and serve. The rest falls into place.
But letting go of my time was far more difficult. While I made time to pray, attend church and occasionally volunteer with ministries, as a busy working mom, I barely had time to get seven hours of sleep, let alone carve out extra time to read the Bible or meditate on God’s word. I saw those as “extras,” something I’d make time to prioritize when things slowed down.
Ha. Fast-forward a few years, and I got the picture: things weren’t going to slow down. Ever.
I started squeezing in time each day to read the Bible or do my spiritual journal, but it was willy-nilly at best—until one day a friend emailed and asked when I made time for it in my busy routine. I was midway through explaining my sporadic Bible-reading rhythm and found myself typing, “I wish I could do it first thing in the morning, but that’s my writing time…”
“My” writing time?
It’s not mine at all. In fact, nothing is mine—not my money, not my house, not my gifts and abilities, not even my family. I might call them “my” kids or “my” husband, but they’re God’s. It’s all God’s. He gifted me with abilities, and He can take them away. Giving back with the first tenth of what I “have”—whether that’s money or time—is an important symbol of faith and homage, a gesture of respecting His authority.
So now I start each day by offering my tithe of time, just like I tithe my money. He gets my “firstfruits.” It doesn’t matter what else the day holds; He comes first. And ironically, just like I haven’t missed the money I tithe to Him, I don’t miss the time, either.
He works it all out so I have more than enough.