Giving your tithe. What a touchy subject for some people. When pastors talk about reaching into your wallet and putting 10% of your income into the offering plate, some of us become prickly like a porcupine. For some, however, giving 10% of their income is no biggie. But when it comes to giving of their time–of themselves–that’s when it becomes really challenging and they (or should I say we) become quite stingy.
Our days are SO full already! How can we take 10% of our time and give it back to the Lord?
There are 24 hours in a day. If we sleep 8 hours, we’re left with 16 awake hours. If we work 8 hours a day, we’re still left with 8 free hours! If we drive in traffic 2.5 hours a day, we’re left with 5.5 good hours to spend with family, cooking, cleaning, helping kids with homework, texting, practicing basic hygiene, watching Netflix, etc. My pastor recently gave us this breakdown and it was quite eye-opening how much time we waste each day.
Okay, so there are 24 fabulous hours in a day and potentially 5.5 free hours. If we stop to think about it, not every single minute is allotted to something. What if we tithed 10% of that 24 hours? That would mean 2.4 hours a day (might as well round that up to 2.5 to make it easier to keep up with) dedicated to doing the Lord’s work and to following his commands for our lives.
What would that look like? For starters, we could spend an hour a day in prayer and Bible study. Break that down and you’ve got 30 minutes of prayer and 30 minutes of learning God’s Word (15 in the morning, 15 at lunch or at bedtime). Your prayer time could even be combined with driving to work because the Lord knows there are enough crazies out there on the highway that it takes a strong prayer life to make it to the office and back.
What could we do with the other hour and a half? How about spending 15 minutes encouraging others? Shoot some texts or emails to your friends to lift their load and spirits for the day. Maybe take someone who needs to get some burdens off their shoulders to lunch (or spend your lunch time with someone who needs a little extra encouragement)? Include their needs in your prayers (your prayers will probably overflow and become more than the “allotted” 30 minutes).
What about the time spent in the car with your kids? How about taking that time, turning down the radio, and just letting them talk about their day? And really LISTEN. When my kids were little, I had a tendency to zone out while they were talking (mainly because I had my own issues I was dealing with and just didn’t have the emotional energy). But those little ones do grow up; they leave the nest and one day won’t be there filling the house with buzzes and hums of “noise.” Spend the time you have with them well.
See how I’m combining these things into your daily routine?
Random acts of kindness can fill up another 15 minutes of your daily tithe of your time. Hold the door open for someone, pay for someone’s coffee in the line behind you, walk a friend’s dog when they can’t get home from work in time, help an elderly person with their groceries, etc. There are all sorts of things we can do to GIVE of OURSELVES that don’t take much time. In fact, we probably already do many of those things. We just don’t realize we’re doing them.
Something else you can do once a month is prepare a meal for someone who is sick or who has had surgery, a baby, or a death in the family. Or on your way home from shopping or work, stop by the hospital and visit someone you may know who is in there.
How do these become a tithe of our time? I mean, anyone and everyone can do random acts of kindness and that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a tithe to God. Well, it’s the heart behind it and the attitude you express to people while doing it. When you put a smile on your face and tell people to have a blessed day, when you ask someone if you can pray for them, when you show them Jesus in your own unique way, that’s when it’s a tithe.
Next time you post a status on Facebook or Twitter or next time you post a picture to Instagram, how about you make it count? Think about it. If you’ve got 500-1,000 friends/followers, why blast them with some complaint you have about someone in your life who irritates you or about the current political happenings? Why not say something encouraging? If you don’t feel very encouraging right now, you’d be surprised at how encouraged you can become when you take the time to say something that encourages others. Social media is your platform to the world, make it count. Give that to God, too, as a tithe.
Now what can we do with the other hour of our tithe time? How about taking care of ourselves? The body is the temple of the Lord’s, and we should take care of it. This is an area that I so desperately need to focus on. If we spent JUST one hour a day doing some form of physical activity (even if it’s in 15 minute bursts), we’d live so much longer and be around longer to bless others and to serve the Lord and our churches. They say that sitting is the new smoking. Our lives are so much more sedentary than they used to be 100 years ago. We’re going to sit ourselves right into the grave!
I’m working on putting this time tithe into practice. Won’t you join me?