Should We Tithe Our Time?
- Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.
- Theophrastus, from Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers
Greek botanist, humorist, & naturalist (372 BC – 287 BC)
Time is money. (Was that Benjamin Franklin? – I think maybe so)
In a society pre-occupied with money –at least this part of the Midwest is– we hear a lot about how to make the most in the least amount of time, allegedly saving time for important things. I wonder sometimes: Do we call things “important” because they are? or because we want to feel better about spending so much time getting ready to save some?
Maybe we’re more taken with time than we are with money. Is that possible?
For a few paragraphs pretend it’s true. (C’mon, humor me – for the sake of discussion, ok?) If time is our currency, would God still expect the first-fruits? Would He expect a tithe in hours and minutes?
Recently I sat in a group of people and heard the one in front say “What if God wrote you a check for $1440.00 every day for the rest of your life and handed it to you? What if He said ‘I want $20 of it back every day and I want you to use the rest with Me in mind.” (or something to that effect). Well-said, Chip! His point was this: Why is it so hard to give God a segment of every day for that dialogue He wants and expects from us? What freedom we have with the rest (1420 minutes) Twenty-minutes each day should be the easiest thing in the world to do!
If Malachi were writing to the church in America, might he say “Wherein have we robbed You? In time, tithes and offerings.”
I’m observing what I believe is a trend in the contemporary church to spend less time with God’s people so we can spend more time at home, allegedly with our families. (I doubt the networks and cable TV are going to point our attention God-ward, even if we ARE all in the room together –which we’re usually not– but that’s my opinion).
We strive for the irreducible minimum in preparation for worship in the name of efficiency “…so ministry won’t be an inconvenience and more can participate.” In reality are we simply giving God less? At least less time? The artisans and artists I respect the most don’t worry about the time nearly so much as the quality of their work.
It doesn’t seem to me we’re looking at our relationship with God and our worship of Him as we could. Generally speaking, I’m thinking maybe time IS our current currency, and we’re short-changing the Almighty.
Several days ago I was talking with a friend, a skilled musician, who recently joined a church orchestra in part because in his words “They’re a committed group of people.” They rehearse several hours in the middle of the week, he told me, and are ready to go early Sunday morning, without complaint or apology. Their willingness to do whatever it takes in worshiping our Lord impressed him enough he wanted to be a part; wanted to put his musical shoulder to the wheel and help. Excellence attracts excellence. Committment attracts the committed.
Unfortunately the inverse is also true. We love bargains in this country. God has never accepted bargains from His people. His share is the first. The best. Why should He feel differently about our time than about the other things we offer Him?
If King David were alive today, if 1 Chronicles 21 occurred in the 21st century —in 2006— his perspective would probably take most of us by surprise.
David needed to come before the Lord in prayer and worship, bring Him something in the way of sacrifice, but He’s a long ways from home. (You can read the story, 1 Chronicles 21, verse 17 to the end, especially verse 24). When asked if he would sell his threshing floor and his animals, the owner said “Here! Take it! It’s yours for the asking, O King.” (I can hear “Long-live-the-King” in my imagination but I think that phrase may have come later in history. oh-well)
“No,” King David responded, “I will buy it from you at it’s full value. I will not offer something that has cost me nothing.”
Selah – Think about it. Have we some adjusting to do in the American church? (I think you know how I’d answer that one.) What are those coming up behind us learning by watching our minimalism in time given to God in service? Too much, I’m afraid.
(By the way – a “gross tithe” on 168 hours/week would be 16 hrs and 48 minutes, a “net tithe” (waking hours if you sleep 8 hrs a night) would be 11 hrs and 12 minutes. Not to make us feel guilty or anything 🙂 )
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