I just finished the book, “29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life” and it not only resonated with me, but was perfectly timed with some concepts I have been wrestling with around giving.
In some New Thought circles** there is a belief that “giving to need” brings poverty, because it acknowledges lack. Personally, I do not subscribe to that belief and have yet to find compelling evidence that this thinking bears fruit. While this charity-blindness has never felt right to me, I continued to wonder, perhaps even worry, that my own perspective on giving – one that includes giving to need – was off base and out of alignment with principles of abundance.
My confusion was further nudged by various teachings that insist the way to abundant living requires tithing, or the giving of 10% of everything you receive to God, in the form of wherever it is that you receive spiritual nourishment. Tithing is not a foreign concept to me as it is taught in most Christian and Catholic churches, but I have had mixed experiences with tithing and not-tithing that have made me question the voracity of it as a hard and fast rule.
I grew up in a family that tithed but “gave to need” for generations, and we always had plenty. We lived abundantly and as children, we never knew lack and our grandparents and great-grandparents lived very comfortably until their transitions and our parents continue to live in above-average comfort. In my own adult experience, whenever I have given generously from my heart, and for me this often means giving to a charitable cause or organization, great prosperity and abundance has come into my life.
I don’t call foul on those who hold fast to tithing or avoiding charitable giving, but as I develop my own platform for teaching others about abundant living, I can’t blindly subscribe to the insistence on 10% or the passing over of the poor when giving.
Interestingly, as these concepts have been rumbling around in my head and heart for the past couple months, I stumbled upon the “29 Gifts” book. In it, Cami Walker describes the kind of giving that has always worked for me: giving from ourselves, and from our hearts. Cami’s story is about her own personal journey but her giving-style resonated with me so strongly that I wanted to blog about it as soon as I finished the book. I was seeking a scriptural basis to add to the post and stumbled across one I hadn’t read in some time: II Corinthians 9:6-8
“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” [ESV]
I jumped up off the couch!
“This is it – this is IT!” I hollered, scaring my 2 cats.
Each one must give as they have decided in their heart (I’m pretty sure this means it’s quite fine to give to need, or not – whatever is in your heart), not reluctantly or under compulsion (this means you should only tithe if it feels right… not because you think you “should”).
I have found in this spiritual journey that there are no neon signs placed strategically about to help guide you this way or that. Instead, I have had to go “silent” – being still and knowing the God within. In this quiet I have found clues to Truth, and maps to my next steps: like this book and scripture – concepts that seemed to have eluded me previously but then came quietly into focus in front of me.
For me, the giving that works best is a heart-based giving, not a scripted one. It matters not whether I give to need or just give and the further I move away from a proscribed “formula” for giving, the more gifts I receive from Life.
–> Please know this: if tithing (giving 10% of all that you receive) feels right and is working for you – KEEP DOING IT!
BUT,…if you’ve heard that the tithe is the magic path to abundance, and you’re still not feeling it – it’s time to stop and redirect that giving to an amount and in a direction that feels right to you.
Toward the end of Cami’s book she shares a “formula” for abundant living that she credits Rev. Mark Vierra of the North Hollywood Church of Religious Science for teaching. It felt familiar to me, and I suspect it may feel that way for many of you. Loosely paraphrased, here’s the formula:
God, Giving & Gratitude,…every day
- The “God” part is the time we spend in contemplation of Spirit; our communion with the One Infinite Source of Life
- The Giving part is that heartfelt, inspired giving that may or may NOT be monetary
- The Gratitude part is the acceptance and active acknowledgement of everything in our lives as a gift of Good.
Cami’s book is a great read and I recommend it with enthusiasm to anyone on a spiritual journey or who is pondering giving, abundance, and the delicate balance between. More importantly, I encourage each person to go into meditation, or contemplative communion with Spirit, and seek guidance on how and where to give. When it feels right in your heart, you will know that you’ve discovered your best way to give,….and receive.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” ~ Matthew 7:7-8
** there are many New Thought organizations that actively practice ministries that reach out to the poor, homeless and food insecure, and not surprisingly, many of these organizations are thriving.