I believe there are few things within the church as controversial as tithing.
When I think of tithing, I think of this:
In my Christian faith walk, I spent several years (a decade at least) inside of Evangelical churches where it was preached- tithing, not Jesus was the answer to whatever problem you were having. If troubles touched your life you were not giving enough. Homeless people were never given money directly! That would mean a loss of control over how they spent it. (I have witnessed a person in need being given money for manicures & pedicures to ‘cheer them up’ with strict instructions not to spend it on anything else even though this person needed money for food, the utility bill, etc.).
The thing about it all is this; Jesus never told us to tithe. He talked about tithing but what He said was not to tithe but to remember the poor and needy.
In the Orthodox church, we have several extra opportunities for alms giving. These opportunities come to us during our seasons of fasting. Yes, we are to give alms outside of these times of fasting, but during these times alms giving is typically increased due to the savings that comes to us when we fast.
Matthew ^ talks about fasting, praying and the giving of alms: 6 Take heed to your alms, that you do not give in the sight of men with the intent to be seen by them, or you will receive no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 2 Whenever therefore you give your alms, do not make a trumpet to be blown before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets in order to be praised by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward. 3 But when you give, let not your left hand know what your right hand does, 4 so that your giving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
To read more, please look it up in your favorite bible.
During these times of fasting; Lent (also known as Great Lent), The Nativity Fast (also known as The Little or Small Lent) and the Apostles’ Fast are times of increased alms giving. The money we save from not buying our coffee from one of those ‘kiosks’ or from not eating meat, dairy, etc. is typically given to the poor. Really it should be given to people directly and not to a charitable organization. No, this is not specified in the bible but come on, even when Jesus does take us by the hand and gets down to specifics we still mes sit up so don’t get all nit picky folks.
Take a five dollar bill, yes, I said $5.00!, walk up to someone dirty and in need and hand it to them with a smile. Look them in the eye because you are looking at Jesus. You are giving to Jesus. Thank God in your heart that their life is not your life. Have an attitude of gratitude as you give.
The next blocked out time of fasting coming up is the Nativity Fast the dates of which are; Nov. 15 through Dec. 24.
Whether or not you are an Orthodox Christian, you can give to the needy. Not to a charity, to a person. A person you see walking down the street or standing on a corner.
Giving alms brings about humility, gratitude and increases our compassion toward one another, or at least that is the desired result. Alms giving is transformative. Just as prayer and fasting transforms us so too does giving away God’s money. It is not our money, it belongs to God. Glory to God in all things as well as obedience, eh?
Lord have mercy.