“Dad tax!” I say as I reach across the couch, take one of my daughter’s M&Ms and pop it into my mouth. Kendall simply smiles and rolls her eyes. The Dad tax is well established in our house. From fries, to candy, to popcorn and other snacks, the girls know that the Dad Tax is coming.
Once I levied the dad tax on the girls while we were having dinner with a friend who didn’t have kids. He seemed confused at first, then asked why I didn’t feel guilty taking their food. I had to think about it for a minute because in all my years levying the Dad tax, no one had ever really asked me to explain it in depth. After a moment I responded with two reasons. First, they had more than they needed, at the end of every meal both of my girls had extra food left over. Second, I had paid for the food and so, technically, the food was mine anyway. He thought for a moment and then shrugged saying it made sense to him.
So why all this talk about Dad tax? First, I’m sure that a number of you can relate to what my girls have gone through. Knowing some of your families, I’m positive the Dad tax has been levied with great success. Secondly, when it comes to thinking about generosity, there’s something to understanding the relationship between a child and their parents. My kids have a lot of stuff, honestly probably too much, but we can leave that for another devotional. But the truth of the matter is, all of the stuff they have was purchased for them. They may say things like “my toy”, “my shirt”, “my bed”, “my room”, but at the end of the day, my wife and I paid for those things. And we’re happy to give it to them and provide for them because we love them and we want what best for them. We don’t lord it over them, we’re not keeping score or keeping track, it’s just a reality. It was the same way for me as a kid.
The whole reason I’m talking this way is because I think this same mentality is important to apply to our own lives and our relationship with God. It says in the Bible that God is our provider. In Matthew it says not to worry about what you will eat, drink, or wear, because “your heavenly Father knows that you need them all” (Matthew 6:32). In Luke it says “Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!” (Luke 12:24). And finally, it says in James that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). Everything we have is provided for us by God. Our very life, our talents, our friends, our relationships, and our money. God gives it freely to us because He loves us and wants to take care of us.
As you’ve been around the church maybe you’ve heard about the idea of tithing. Tithing is the biblical practice of giving the first ten percent of your income to God. It says in Leviticus that “A tenth of the produce of the land, whether grain or fruit, is the Lord’s and is holy” (Leviticus 17:30). It also says in Proverbs that we should “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce” (Proverbs 3:9). Now I know that you’re probably not out in the fields harvesting grain or fruit. But the practice of tithing is so important in the Christian faith. You see, it’s not that God needs the money, and it’s not that God is trying to shake you down like a middle school bully to make sure He gets His due. In all actuality the practice of tithing is a gift to us. It reminds us to be thankful to God for the things He is doing. In tithing and giving generously of our time, talents, and our money, we are able to participate in God’s holy Kingdom work.
Actually, everything we do at Community Church is a result of peoples tithes and offerings. From the giveaways at studentLife to the heat in building, from hosting the rotating homeless shelter to the work the deacons do caring for people in our community, all of that is a result of the people of God faithfully giving to God what is rightfully His. Whether they see the results or not, they’re participating in bringing the healing and restoration that is inherent in the Kingdom of God to people right now.
So what? So why am I telling you all of this? Maybe you don’t have money right now, heck, maybe you do, but either way, you do have time, and you are talented, and God is inviting you to do the work of His Kingdom with Him. So, I want to ask you, what has God given you that you can go out and generously bless people with? How has God equipped you to give and to serve your community? Because guys, being generous and giving back to God what’s already His, caring for His people, loving our neighbors, serving, all of those things are not only good for those around us, they’re good for us too. It says in 2 Corinthians that “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7), and my challenge to you this week, this month, and hopefully for the rest of your life, is to give cheerfully.