Tuesday, October 03, 2006

So I'm a religious guy. I go to church every week, I'm on the activity committee, and I regularly read my scriptures, pray, and pay tithing. It's the latter one that I wanted to mention here.

Why do I pay tithing? Why, as a college student who makes $11/hr as a research assistant, do I give up 1/10 of my income? The short answer? I can't afford not to. The long answer? Read on.

To someone who isn't religious, it seems completely paradoxical to give up money in one area and expect to be better off financially in a completely unrelated area. However, to a religious person, the idea isn't preposterous--God rewards those who obey his commandments. Speaking tithinically (it's, uh, a religious word...):

Malachi 3:8-10
"8. Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. 9. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. 10. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."

The commandment: pay tithing. The promise: God will pour out a blessing so large we can't receive it. The catch: it takes faith. Do I have the faith to do what any economist would say is impossible? Give up 1/10 of my income and expect to be better off financially than if I didn't?

For me, yes, I have the faith. I've planted the seed, I've watered it, I've seen the fruit. I was taught the principle by my parents as a child, I've continued the practice as an adult, and I've seen the results firsthand. In this one principle of the gospel at least, my faith has turned to knowledge.

What are the results I've seen?
  • I'm working on my Master's thesis in Computer Science and I've never had to take out a school loan.
  • I just bought a 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier, and was able to pay for it with cash.
  • From the time I was 12 years old I've never lacked for a job, with new jobs appearing sometimes the very day an old job ended, and sometimes finding their way to me through amazingly convoluted channels (a friend of a cousin of a neighbor of an army buddy...you get the idea).
  • Recent specifics that prompted this post? A month ago I needed to pay tuition of $1,500. I only had $800 in my bank account. I happened to be digging through some old belongings, and found $700 in a box of envelopes, where I had stuck it after selling my previous car, then forgotten it. You do the math.
  • Today, I realized rent was due (first of the month). I have the money in my bank account, but after I pay rent, I'll have $18.99 left over to last me until Oct. 13--two weeks from now. That won't even pay to fill up my gas tank. Driving home from Child's house, however, I suddenly remembered that I hadn't checked my PayPal account for several months. Getting home, I checked it, and found $300 in it, which I transferred to my bank account.

    So a doubter might say that all those have logical explanations. None of that money appeared from thin air, I had simply forgotten it. Any of those jobs I got could have been a combination of luck and being in the right place at the right time, or knowing the right people. At some point, however, the coincidences become overwhelming, and you have to recognize God's hand in it. Who loses $700, or forgets $300, only to find it or remember it when there's no other solution? No, I believe in the law of tithing, and God hasn't failed me yet.

    Anonymous said...

    wow. even though i am the worlds biggest skeptic i can honestly say i am impressed. maybe i should start paying tithing again. although i have been burned by this god person in the past...

    The Writer said...

    Funny you should post a comment on this right now. I have a few things to add.

    At the moment, Child and I are paying $425 for an apartment in an area where most people are paying $650+. Were we just lucky that Child's mom knew the landlord, and we were looking for an apartment at the precise time that the old tenant got arrested and extradited to NYC? It might be luck.

    In addition, I just got a job today. It pays better than average (let's just say that Novell is offering a similar job for $40,000, and that makes me laugh), plus I'll be able to telecommute most of the time, plus I get a percentage of *equity* in the company if I work there for a year or two.

    Plus there's no time-commitment (they'd like me to work there for at least a year, but since they're hiring me on as a 1099 [basically a freelancer], they were realistic that they couldn't require me to stay. That's nice, because if my brother-in-law's company needs another employee soon, I'd like to have the option of joining him.

    Anyway, a nice job like that, making more than any other web-programmer in the area? Again, could be luck.

    Obviously, I like to think that it's the hand of God subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) helping out. After all, he DID say that if we pay tithing, he'll open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing. So far, he's kept his word.