I understand the Scriptural basis for tithing and giving monetarily to church and charitable causes. I know, clearly, the story of the widow who gave her precious coin to the Temple.
But the truth is that, today, living with a chronic illness can be very, very expensive, unpredictably so, and many people who are in the trenches, battling pain and symptoms and medical bills, barely have enough money to stay afloat. Some, despite their disabilities, struggle to support families or elderly parents. For many, each day is a battle against bills and basics.
Does it make them un-Christian if these courageous patients decline to tithe a full ten-percent, or at all? Does it mark them as unworthy, or at a lesser tier than others who feel they are “making sacrifices” to keep up with their regular giving?
Although some might say, “You can always find a way,” I’d like to contribute to the conversation by saying, “there are some who simply cannot.” And these people are no less Christian, no less workers in the vineyard than those who shower dollar after dollar upon their faith communities. The “least” among a church community has something to give, even if it does not equate financially.
Consider, for example, that for some people who are monetarily unable to tithe, their “widow’s mite” might be serving at church as a greeter, prayer warrior, lector, or in another capacity. Energy and time are precious commodities to people living with chronic illness and pain – believe me, these things are valuable and worthy of appreciation.
People who live with chronic illness can use the Internet to connect with others who might be housebound (and who better to understand a patient than another patient?) They can provide guidance to others who are just beginning an illness journey, or who are caring for someone who is.
Those who cannot give money can give of their love and support.
Those who are poor teach others who are not how to truly and fully care.
Along with the instructions to live as brothers and sisters, sharing what we have, is the Scriptural instruction about gifts. Each person within the community of Christ has individual gifts and talents, to be used for the greater glory of God.
So many gifts do not have a price tag, but they are strong contributions, nonetheless, and we are all more fortune-ate because of them.
Joy and peace,