My New Spiritual Practice: Tithing in the 21st Century

June 2, 2010

So a few weeks back my world got ROCKED when I stumbled upon a 4-part audio series by Edwene Gaines.  She is the author of the book, The Four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity, a guide on creating true abundance in your life. I’m going to be honest, this post feels a bit more intimate than usual (as it involves both money and spirituality – both typically taboo topics), yet I feel it’s been too transformational for me NOT to share.  For simplicity’s sake I am going to focus on sharing the essence of Law 1 today, which is all about the practice of tithing.  You’ll have to read the book yourself if you want to learn about the other 3 laws…

I’ve been a devout Catholic my entire life, even attending Catholic schools from Kindergarten through College.  While I embraced many of the principles of the Church, I had always struggled to understand the importance of tithing in my spiritual life.  I had so many questions around it that never seemed to get answered: Why tithe at all? Why 10%? Why to the church instead of another organization?  Why not time instead of money? Due to the lack of clarity on the subject, I ended up giving far less than 10% of my income to the church.

The crazy thing is, after reading this book, the whole concept just clicked into place and I instantaneously felt this desire to start tithing 10% of what I earn.  Before I explain what the reframe was all about, I want to explain the basic concept of a tithe for those that are unfamiliar.  Literally translated, a tithe meens one tenth.  In the Bible, the first recorded tithe is from Abraham to his spiritual teacher.  This set the model for the Christian tradition of donating or tithing 10% of all you have to your spiritual teacher (translation: the church).

Edwene jumps right in by clearing up the question, “Why do we tithe?” Her answer: In tithing, we are acknowledging that God is our Source and that none of this abundance would have been possible without him.  It is a way to recognize that there is something larger at work in our life and show gratitude for it.

Why 10%? Well, Edwene hasn’t found a scriptural answer for this one yet, but she offers the suggestion that it goes back to the olden days when farmers would hold back a tenth of their harvest to use for planting the following year.  I also would add that I think 10% is a challenging but do-able stretch.

The most profound shift for me came when Edwene answered the question, “Why tithe to the church instead of another organization?” Her answer stopped me in my tracks: If the church is where you get your spiritual sustenance from, then return your tithe to them.  If not, tithe to the people, places and organizations that FEED YOU SPIRITUALLY.  If you’re anything like me, I’m sure you’re wondering what ‘feed you spiritually’ means.  By Edwene’s definition, to be fed spiritually means to have an experience/encounter where you feel inspired and connected to your highest (most God-like) self.  It is an experience/interaction that touches you profoundly and reminds you of who you are at your core.

This can be a hard concept to get, so I’m going to spell it out a little bit more.  For example, I may send a check to an author of a book that inspired me.  I may tithe to my best friend who expanded my awareness about a part of me I didn’t understand.  I may tithe to my beloved Alma Mater when I feel moved by the stories in the quarterly magazine.  I may even tithe to the barista at Starbucks who cheerfully hands me my coffee each day.  You get the idea?  It’s really about anything that moves us and connects us to gratitude and ourselves in a deeper way.  And what I love most about it is the fact that we have to constantly be looking for the things that touch and inspire us!

So why does it have to be money?  Why can’t I donate my time or give someone a gift instead? Edwene doesn’t suggest that we should stop practicing generosity in other forms, she just insists that it should be IN ADDITION to our tithing.  Many of us have distorted money beliefs that make it much easier for us to gift time or things than straight money.  By blessing the money and sending it out into the world to do more good, we disconnect from the scarcity mentality that so often surrounds money and replace it with a belief of abundance and knowing that it doesn’t matter if I give this away, there will always be enough.

Just to make sure you get this concept, I’m going to emphasize it again: There is an important TRANSFORMATION that happens through the physical act of handing over money and expecting nothing in return (no recognition, no re-payment, no gift in return, etc).  It becomes purely about honoring that person for the spiritual impact they had on you and thanking God/Source for the abundance that is flowing through your life.

I hope you can see why I’m so moved by this radical shift in thinking about tithing.  I see now that it is a structure for helping me embrace a multitude of the practices I am trying to bring into my life on a daily basis.  To learn more about Edwene Gaines’ work, check out her website, Prosperity Products.  In my next post I am going to move away from the theory and tell you about my personal experience with tithing thus far.  I think you’ll really enjoy hearing about it…

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  1. Kim says:

    This is a refreshing concept.

  2. minnesotagal says:

    Yeah, I thought so too. Glad you liked it!

  3. eliteinchrist says:

    If you line up all that Edwene Gaines has written about tithing against God’s word, you will find out it just does not add up!The bible never calls Melchizedek Abraham’s spiritual father! The bible never says the tithe is 10% of money either. What the bible calls the tithe is simple A TENTH of crops and livestock from within the land of Israel!

    She has simply expressed her personal opinion and tried to pass it off as God’s word and it ain’t! I suggest you do more study on the subject so as not to get suckered by false doctrine!

  4. minnesotagal says:

    I always appreciate alternative opinions, so thanks for commenting. For me, even if the practice isn’t based in solid theology, I like that it’s resonating and encouraging me to give at a new level. I’ll continue researching Edwene’s work, but for now I’m going to celebrate that I feel moved to stretch myself in this new way.

  5. Bethany says:

    My family (starting with my parents) made the choice years ago to tithe to various places, not just the church. Some weeks it may be buying groceries and taking them to the food pantry table at church, it may be sending money to sponsor a child, or donating to an organization such as Despite a comment from an earlier post, when God guides you with tithing, you can’t go wrong.

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