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Where My Treasure Is

Posted on November 17th, 2009

Over the past couple of months, I have been buckling down on my expenses, trying to keep the unnecessary stuff from creeping in and making a huge splash in my bank account. I have to say that, thanks to careful monitoring and tracking, I have been doing quite well. With the impending move to a new apartment coming, my budget is going to get a major shock (security deposits are nasty) and my push for frugality will be even more important.

That said, I feel that I may be prioritizing my money a bit poorly. While I do spend money on meaningful things (a gym membership, good books, music, tasteful clothing, and so on), there is one huge gap where I am not spending nearly enough: charity. This was hit home at a recent leadership meeting with Forefront, where it became very evident how a small minority of the members was propping up the church. (The extent to which I donate to other causes such as Multiple Sclerosis or Movember is nice but also a bit lacking.)

Some people commit the first 10% of their income to charity. I met one couple who did this last week, and it really threw me for a loop. The message that they were sending by doing this is that trying to make the world a better place was their first priority, before making rent or getting groceries. I, personally, am someone who is interested in making the world a better place but allocating that first chunk of my [disposable] income is completely foreign to me. All of my life, I have been taught that charity is nice, but saving money (especially at an early age) is important to leading a long and happy (read: prosperous) life.

At some point in the future, I am confident that I can do both; when I happen to make more money than I know what to do with under reasonable circumstances, it would become way more comfortable to give it away. Just look at my boss, Mike Bloomberg, and all of the money that he has been donating now that he’s in a place in life where accidentally finding a few thousand dollars in his pants might be a common occurrence. (Go Mike!)

But it’s not about comfort, is it? If I am truly interested in effecting a positive change in the world around me, then I should be willing to sacrifice the comfort and to get serious about charity. As it is written (and often said), where you treasure is, there your heart will be also.  I would then be investing in the change that I want to see in the world, and I would be way more interested (and involved) in ensuring that the investment is used wisely and effectively.

Truthfully, I do not imagine that this is going to be a massive change all at once; I feel that I have to warm myself up to it and slowly work my way to rebalancing my budget to accommodate this. But I am committing to it. And if you’re reading this, then you are probably fortunate enough to have many luxuries impressed upon you, and you are probably in a place where you could rethink where your heart is.

3 Responses to “Where My Treasure Is”

  1. kat Says:

    Are you speaking of tithing, or of going above and beyond 10% of your “first fruits” so to speak, like the couple you mentioned.

    I’ve always been taught that tithing is a biblical command, that God asks us to give from the first of what we have/make, not after the fact or if we feel we can afford it. I often think of the woman at the temple who Jesus praised for giving 2 coins – all she had, versus the rich men who gave, but it wasn’t really a sacrifice.

    …and all this giving isn’t just about financial giving, although I do believe that’s important…

    At church on Sunday the speaker talked about how we have so much here in Canada, as one of the top consuming countries. It really made me think of how I live, what I justify as important, necessary or meaningful purchases/ways to spend my time, and how I can act in ways that truly does try to help the rest of the world. A constant challenge, eh?!

  2. Justin Says:

    Yes, tithing. I didn’t really grow up with it in my family so it wasn’t a habit or a mentality that was encouraged. (In fact, the converse was encouraged.) I certainly tithed (to The Embassy and Forefront), but it definitely came from money that I had lying around. Turning that on its head and giving first is going to be interesting for me 😉

    As for the couple, they were the ones that set aside their first 10% (or whatever the number is for them); but I am pretty sure that they go above and beyond that.

  3. kat Says:

    It’s technically not tithing if it comes from extra money (at least, as far as I understand the biblical teaching). The couple at your church sound like they are truly tithing.

    Does the Catholic Church not teach on tithing?

    To respond to what you wrote about your need to be careful with expenses, I have always found that no matter how much or little I have, when I tithe, I have always had enough. Even if tithing would make it look like I won’t have enough money at the end of the month, somehow the money (or food, or whatever) always works itself out. I attribute this to God, of course. Not that tithing is like a magical machine where you put in your 10% and out comes the rest, but I think it comes down to God being faithful in response to our faith.

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