By Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq.
There was a time when I didn’t tithe. I, like many people, dropped my few dollars in the collection plate when it came around or when I was on my way out of church. In my mind at the time, tithing was never mandatory, but I always felt good when I was able to listen to the song called “You Can’t Beat God Giving.” I reasoned, logically, that the lyrics were correct and that my good feeling came in the confirmation that God had a lot more to give than I had. Then I studied the ministry, received an academic Doctor of Ministry and was blessed with an honorary Doctor of Divinity for my community service.
I already had a Juris Doctor and a Doctor of Public Administration, and a few other miscellaneous degrees. I was feeling pretty blessed in my achievements and, contrary to my previous beliefs, came to learn that tithing was an obligation and a matter of personal commitment. As one who was always serious about meeting my obligations, I began tithing and, before long, I began receiving and enjoying significant blessings! In the spirit of complete disclosure, I will be honest and say that when I wasn’t making much money, tithing wasn’t too bad. I gave my “little” tithe, hardly missing it.
As my blessings increased and I made more money, it became more intellectually difficult to tithe. Although I knew it was the right thing to do, thinking or speaking the amount my commitment required me to offer seemed to be an awfully large amount! However, in faith, I gave to the level of my commitment and began to receive even larger blessings in my life. Now, I look forward to earning more money so I can get closer to God’s giving! I’m a happy tither these days!
On the other hand, even when I only earned a little money, I was never pleased about being required to pay taxes. I still can’t see why it’s my obligation to pay the salaries of Senator Ted Cruz and people like him with my tax dollars – only to have him shut down a government that’s set up to help the people, and having him cause havoc for those of us who pay our taxes whether we like it or not.
I’ve learned that tithes and taxes are very different. When you tithe, God blesses you for being faithful and obedient; but, while paying taxes, the Internal Revenue Service extracts every bit out of you that it can, and you rarely see the rewards! Sometimes even your worst enemies benefit from what you pay! Knowing that taxes are due on April 15th and recognizing that you may have second thoughts about paying, I don’t expect you to be happy with the prospect. The best I can offer is, like it or not, it’s an obligation for which you may not receive blessings. And, it’s far worse if you don’t pay when taxes are due. That’s when you have interest and penalties added!
You don’t have to pay tithes in church when you don’t have money to give. The IRS doesn’t care that you aren’t making enough money this year to pay last year’s taxes. They expect you to figure out a way to pay anyway! If you do tithe, you can at least use what you gave for a tax deduction; but, again, when you pay your taxes, you may not see the benefit. Which would you prefer? Tithing or paying more taxes? You’ll know that your tithing at the church will help someone who has little or nothing to pay tithes or taxes. Consider yourself blessed if you earn money enough to pay both your tithes and your taxes!
Dr. E. Faye Williams is President of the National Congress of Black Women. www.nationalcongressbw.org