As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, it is a fitting time to reflect on the biblical principle of tithing and how it relates to our lives today. The practice of tithing – giving a percentage of one’s income to God and His work – originates in the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 14:22-23 instructs: “You shall tithe all the yield of your seed which comes forth from the field year by year. And before the Lord your God, in the place which he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstlings of your herd and flock; that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always.“
Tithing was a way for the Israelites to express their gratitude to God by returning a portion of what He had given them. It was an act of worship recognizing that all good things ultimately come from the Lord. As Christians, tithing remains a valuable spiritual practice that trains our hearts to rely on God rather than earthly wealth. It keeps us from becoming overly attached to material possessions and helps us cultivate an attitude of generosity.
In his commentary on Deuteronomy, the Servant of God Don Dolindo Ruotolo has profound insights into the meaning behind tithing that are very relevant for us today. He writes:
“We must give God even the tithes, which are but the consecration made to Him of all our activities, with an act of particular love to Him alone. Give to the Lord the tithe of food, drink, recreation with an act of mortification. If you get up from the table without having given God a little flower of penance, above all eating without complaining about what you do not like, your meal is a brutal function of material life. Give God the tithe in your studies with an act of faith, in your work with an act of resignation, in your conversations with an act of charity.“
Don Dolindo emphasizes that tithing should involve consecrating every area of our lives to God – not just our money, but also our time, talents, recreation and relationships. We tithe our food by abstaining from overindulgence, our work by doing it for God’s glory, our studies by using our intellect to grow in faith. Tithing helps us sanctify the ordinary moments of each day.
Furthermore, Don Dolindo reminds us that we cannot truly tithe activities that are sinful or ungodly: “If the food of our lives is unclean, how can we give a tithe of it to God? In an ungodly entertainment, in a sinful conversation, how can you give a tithe to God? We must eliminate from our lives anything unworthy of the Lord, without allowing ourselves to be captivated by evil.” As Christians, we are called to a high standard of moral conduct. Before we can give an acceptable tithe to the Lord, we must purify our lives by rejecting immoral behaviors.
Don Dolindo cautions us against letting negative emotions and harmful habits steal the “tithe” that rightfully belongs to God. When we give in to anger, anxiety, gluttony or other vices, we are diverting God’s portion to the enemy. Tithing requires vigilance to offer our best to the Lord.
Don Dolindo offers very practical advice about being vigilant against the devil’s attempts to steal our tithes meant for God. He warns us, “Do not consume the tithes belonging to God in your distress and mourning, despairing; do not consecrate them to idols with superstitious acts; do not offer them to death with sin. Think that in every act of your life Satan tries to take a tithe from you, and envies you. What is your anger in adversity, your discouragement and worry in distress, your distraction and boredom in prayers, your gluttony at meals, your sinful curiosity in dealing with the world? It is the tithe that Satan takes from your actions to snatch them from the Lord.” For example, when challenges arise in our work or studies, we may react with impatience and anger rather than offering these frustrations to God. When we indulge in overeating or dwell on impure thoughts, the enemy is stealing tithes that belong to the Lord. We must be alert to the devil’s tactics and instead consecrate our actions to God through acts of faith, humility and self-control. As Don Dolindo reminds us, “If you do not break this covenant, God will make you great and will consider you as a person consecrated to His love, worthy of eternal reward.“
As we approach Thanksgiving and reflect on the many blessings in our lives – our health, family, friends, faith community – tithing is a concrete way to express our gratitude to God. It is an act of worship when we recognize that all good things come from the Father’s hand. Tithing also trains our hearts for detachment, generosity and reliance on God rather than material wealth. It sanctifies the everyday moments of life when we consecrate our work, recreation and relationships to God. May we strive to give the Lord His rightful “tithe” in all areas of our life, so that He is glorified in all that we do.
O Mother Mary, You who magnified the Lord with your pure and humble heart, teach us to follow your example of spiritual tithing. May we, like you, offer everything to God’s glory, doing all things in the name of Jesus with thanksgiving (1 Corinthians 10:31, Colossians 3:17). Help us to humbly consider others above ourselves (Philippians 2:3), loving what is good and hating what is evil (Romans 12:9). Give us the grace to rejoice, pray, and give thanks always, for this is God’s will for us (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). With the Psalmist, may we offer sacrifices of praise and thank offerings to the Lord (Psalm 116:17, Hebrews 13:15-16). Remind us that giving thanks is God’s will for us in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). May we be watchful in prayer with thankful hearts (Colossians 4:2). Guide us away from conformity to the world and transform us by the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2). Keep us from obeying the disordered passions of the flesh (Romans 6:12) and help us to make no provision for gratifying sinful desires (Romans 13:14). Mary, by following your example of complete surrender to God’s will, may our lives become a fragrant offering and perfect sacrifice of praise. Amen.
Image: the widow’s two copper coins (Mark 12:41-44, Luke 21:1-4)