You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves a person who gives cheerfully. [2 Corinthians 9:7 (NLT)]
Many people faithfully tithe by giving ten percent of their income to God’s work. I recently read an article in which the author not only tithes her money but also her time. She dedicates 2.4 hours a day or 16.8 hours a week to God’s work. Weekends are used to catch up on any remaining balance she owes. Her tithed hours are spent in things like Bible study, prayer, mentoring, visiting the house-bound, bringing food to the needy, or sending encouraging notes.
While doling out time may work for the author, I’m not so sure it would for everyone. There would be those who’d ask if we’re talking gross or net hours. If net, once we’d taken out the eight hours for sleep, only 1.6 hours a day would belong to God. I picture people keeping a spreadsheet showing time spent in good works and wonder if Sunday evening there might a frantic effort to find a way to use the remaining time. Would we call an elderly neighbor to chat while counting minutes until we could disconnect? I can picture splitting hairs about what actually determines working for the Lord. If I’m bringing my trash can back to the house anyway, does bringing up my next door neighbor’s count? If I take canned goods to the food pantry, do I get credit for the entire time I spent at the grocery store? Does having a friend for lunch count or must it be someone I don’t know (or like)? If I’m driving someone to church, can I count the time spent filling the gas tank? Do I get extra credit for baby-sitting monster children? Once those sixteen plus hours are used, could we then turn a deaf ear to people’s needs? If we spend more than 16.8 hours serving in one week, would the extra hours carry over to the next week? With all that nitpicking, would people become more concerned with tallying time than sharing God’s love? Instead of being a privilege to serve, would doing His work become a chore? God loves a cheerful giver but this doesn’t sound very cheerful to me.
Originally, tithing time seemed like a good idea, especially when I realized that I spend more than sixteen hours a week writing these devotions. My time tithe would be complete so I’d be off the hook; nothing more would have to be done for God! The Holy Spirit then gave me a kick in the behind and said, “You’re never done serving the Lord; I want all 168 hours of your week!”
I was recently at a facility for the developmentally disabled. They’d made a colorful sign saying, “Throw kindness like confetti!” Indeed, the clients were scattering kindness to one another and to the staff—encouraging, laughing, smiling, sharing, loving and helping. Although in adult bodies, they remain children; nevertheless, there is much we can learn from them. Remember, the kingdom of God belongs to children and children don’t keep spreadsheets of kindness—they just love with their whole being all of the time. Indeed, as Christians, we’re to have an endless supply of kindness confetti and scatter it 24/7, not just 16.8 hours a week!
Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can. [Attributed to John Wesley]