Anytime there’s a discussion of prosperity in a faith community, the subject of tithing will necessarily be a part of the conversation. There are truly some masterful teachers who introduce tithing in ways that inspire individuals to want to engage in this spiritual practice. Then there are those teachers who teach “give till it hurts,” and hurt it does! They actually do more harm than good.
The long and short of the practice, as taught in Christianity, is that one is give 10% of his/her income to God – namely in support one’s church, or as Charles Fillmore says in Prosperity “spiritual work or workers.” But one question that arises is this: do other faith traditions also teach tithing? If we broaden the definition to include charity, the answer is an absolute YES! Here’s a brief overview f the tithing/charity teachings of the world’s six largest faith communities.
Christianity – about 2.1 billion adherents around the world
Central to the tithing philosophy found in Christianity is this except from the Hebrew Scriptures:
“Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 3:8-12
There is no reference in the Christian scriptures to Jesus addressing the subject of tithing. The closest thing is his injunction found Mark to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar, and to God the things that are God’s.” Mark 12:17
Paul, the evangelist, said that one should: “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-15
Islam – 1.5 billion adherents around the world
So the test of charity lies not in giving away something we have discarded but the things that we value greatly, something that we love. It is unselfishness that God demands. It may be in any form – one’s personal efforts, talents, skill, learning, property or possessions.
The Qur’an states: ‘Of their wealth take alms to purify and sanctify them’ (Tauba 9:103). Thus Zakah is looked upon as a means of spiritual purification; therefore, it is an obligation whether or not there are needy members of the community. Zakah acts to remind the Muslim of Allah’s gift of wealth bestowed upon them, and of those others not so fortunate.
28 July 2012
Hinduism – 900 million adherents, most in India
The ten niyamas – the observances or practices that every ideal Hindu should follow – as interpreted by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami.
The third observance, Giving or charity (dana) – giving generously without thought of reward.
Be generous to a fault, giving liberally without thought of reward. Tithe, offering one-tenth of your gross income (dasamamsa) as God’s money, to temples, ashrams and spiritual organizations. Approach the temple with offerings. Visit gurus with gifts in hand. Donate religious literature. Feed and give to those in need. Bestow your time and talents without seeking praise. Treat guests as God.
http://hinduism.about.com/od/basics/ss/ten_niyamas_3.htm 28 July 2012
Buddhism – 376 million adherents, most in Southeast Asia
Buddhism views charity as an act to reduce personal greed which is an unwholesome mental state which hinders spiritual progress. A person who is on his way to spiritual growth must try to reduce his own selfishness and his strong desire for acquiring more and more. He should reduce his strong attachment to possessions which, if he is not mindful, can enslave him to greed. What he owns or has should instead be used for the benefit and happiness of others: his loved ones as well as those who need his help.
Charity in Buddhism http://www.budsas.org/ebud/whatbudbeliev/168.htm 28 July 2012
Sikhism – 23 million adherents, most in India
Vand Chakna (Sharing): The Sikhs are asked to share their wealth within the community and outside by practicing charity (Daan). Sikhism instructs to “Share and consume together”.
Seva (Selfless Service): It is the duty of every Sikh to engage in Seva whenever there is a possibility. A Sikh can volunteer at Gurdwara Sahib; community centre; senior living centers; care centers, major world disasters, etc. Seva is important to Sikhs because it helps build a better community and also keeps the Sikhs humble by suppressing ego.
Judaism – 14 million adherents, most in Israel and the United States
Giving to the poor is an obligation in Judaism, a duty that cannot be forsaken even by those who are themselves in need. Some sages have said that tzedakah is the highest of all commandments, equal to all of them combined, and that a person who does not perform tzedakah is equivalent to an idol worshipper. This is probably hyperbole, but it illustrates the importance of tzedakah in Jewish thought. Tzedakah is one of the three acts that gain us forgiveness from our sins. The High Holiday liturgy repeatedly states that G-d has inscribed a judgment against all who have sinned, but teshuvah (repentance), tefilah (prayer) and tzedakah can alleviate the decree.
According to Jewish law, we are required to give one-tenth of our income to the poor. This is generally interpreted as one-tenth of our net income after payment of taxes. Taxes themselves do not fulfill our obligation to give tzedakah, even though a significant portion of tax revenues in America and many other countries are used to provide for the poor and needy. Those who are dependent on public assistance or living on the edge of subsistence may give less, but must still give to the extent they are able; however, no person should give so much that he would become a public burden.
The Obligation of Tzedakah http://www.jewfaq.org/tzedakah.htm 28 July 2012
So, based on the numbers noted above, 5 billion people (more being added every day!) are taught by faith communities the importance and spiritual value in keeping money in circulation. The benefits that accrue to the individual and the community are truly priceless!