I have a confession to make.
When I was a kid, I didn’t like taking a bath.
It was my unique solution to the water shortage of the world. I felt that taking a bath was totally unnecessary—a vanity that modern people invented.
When I studied history, my hunch was confirmed.
For example, the monks of the middle ages felt it was vain to take a bath. St. Francis of Assisi believed that to be dirty was a sign of a holy person. Even St. Benedict recommended that those who are young and strong should seldom take a bath. It was said that St. Catherine of Siena avoided washing. And St. Agnes, who died at the age of 13, had never taken a bath.
Queen Isabella of Spain was proud to say that she only took two baths in her whole lifetime.
And Queen Elizabeth of England was seen as a very vain woman during her time. Why? Because she bathed once a month.
I argued that I was even more vain. I was willing to take a bath once a week.
But Mom told me, “Take a bath everyday or else!”
So I had to take a bath.
“Mom is so cruel,” I told myself. “Here I am, enjoying my favorite cartoon, and just when the 5 spaceships are about to “volt-in” and morph into a giant robot and slice the enemy with his saber sword—she calls me to take a bath!”
In the Sanchez household, it was a law that I take a bath—or else. The consequences of violating that Law were deadly: My five angry sisters will chase after me with a pail of water, soap, and panghilod. (I have no idea how to translate that word. It’s actually a rock that Filipinos use to remove their, uh, libag. Gee, this is getting more complex.)
From Law To Love
Thanks be to God, I outgrew that stage of my life.
In a blink of an eye, it just happened. All of a sudden, I loved taking a bath everyday.
Why did I change?
Because I had a crush on a pretty classmate named Mercedes, who had bewitching dimples and smelled of chocnut.
Taking a bath was no longer a Law for me.
It was a Love.
Of course, no matter what I did, Ms. Chocnut never looked twice at me. Because I was still ugly during those days. (Indeed, your past does not define your future.)
Still, her dimples gave me a lovely reason to shower daily.
Let me now bring you to my main message…
Tithing Was An Old Testament Law
I’m a Catholic. (I love our Church—warts, sins, and blemishes. It makes me more convinced of God’s mercy.)
In all the years as a Catholic, I’ve yet to hear a clear teaching on Tithing. Here’s why: Because Catholic Theology says we’re not bound by the Old Testament Law of Tithing, but by the New Testament Law of Generosity.
I agree. But we’ve failed in generosity too!
Catholics are known as having the noisiest offerings in the world. “Klang, kleng, kling, klong, klung…” Because everyone gives coins.
One man said, “Catholics aren’t Tithers, they’re Tippers.”
Many Catholics don’t even know what Tithing is.
Thus, we’re missing out on the many blessings of Tithing.
A Failure In Teaching
Here’s my personal opinion on this matter: I agree in our Catholic Theology that Tithing is no longer a Law. But from a “Execution” viewpoint, we’ve failed miserably in teaching generosity.
I’m a communicator. I’ve been one for 30+ years. And here’s a rule in communication: Always be specific, never vague. I’ve learned that whenever I teach people something vague, they’ll have a hard time doing it.
Yes, we’ve been teaching Catholics to be generous. But what does “generous” mean? The options are endless. And the more options you give, the more confused people are. And the more confused people are, the more inaction there’ll be.
What does generous mean?
Does generosity mean that Catholics pull out (at least) a paper bill? A friend told me that before he joined the Feast (our weekly prayer meeting on steroids), he felt very proud he gave P20 every Sunday, even if he was earning P100,000 a month.
Does generosity mean that Catholics give until it hurts? Until there’s pain? Well I know of a millionaire who felt pain when he couldn’t find P20 in his wallet, he was “forced” to give P50.
Here’s my point: Even if Tithing isn’t a Law anymore, we need to teach Tithing as a Love. Laws are about fear. Loves are about desire. Because it will bless their lives abundantly!
Instead of giving good but vague instructions like…
“Give whatever you can give cheerfully”
“Give as the Holy Spirit inspires you to…”
“Give what your heart dictates…”
Why not just teach: “Give 10% or more of your income.”
I’m worried. Catholics aren’t receiving the blessings of Tithing because we don’t teach it.
My Personal Experience
Here’s my main point: I see Tithing as the most practical way of teaching generosity to people.
I’ve been Tithing for the past 30+ years of my life.
I started when I was 12. Why? My prayer group leader taught me how to tithe. So as a 12-year old kid, I tithed 10% of my daily allowance to God.
And I’ve never stopped Tithing ever since.
I tithe not because it’s a Law.
I tithe because it’s a Love.
I love to tithe! It gives me so much joy.
I can’t live without Tithing.
Because I see Tithing blessed my life in a profound way.
Don’t Curse Yourself
The most popular passage in the Bible about Tithing is found in Malachi 3:8ff. Yes, it’s the Old Testament Law of Tithing. But you can pick up powerful universal principles that you can apply today.
I ask you, is it right for a person to cheat God? Of course not, yet you are cheating me. ‘How?’ you ask. In the matter of tithes and offerings. A curse is on all of you because the whole nation is cheating me.
This verse says that when you don’t tithe, you’re cheating God. Tell me: Can you really cheat from God?
Not really. His CCTV cameras and anti-burglary alarms are much better than ours, believe me.
Here’s a universal truth: When you don’t give, you’re really cheating yourself. You’re cheating yourself from the rich blessings that you were supposed to receive because of giving.
And believe me, God doesn’t curse us when we don’t give. (This was archaic Bible language.) Here’s the truth: When we don’t give, we curse ourselves. We curse ourselves with the curse of missed blessings.
Let me share with you the 5 incredible blessings of Tithing…
The 5 Blessings Of Tithing
Here’s a difference between giving and tithing.
Giving may be something that you do occasionally.
But Tithing is something that you do regularly.
Because Tithing means that every time you earn money, you give 10% or more to the Lord.
Let me ask you a big question: Do you want your rewards to come occasionally or regularly?
Here’s a little exercise.
Name the 5 happiest people you know in your life.
Imagine their faces. Finished?
Here’s my bet: All of them are Givers.
Because Givers are happy people.
It really feels good to give!
When you tithe, you feel that happiness regularly because you give regularly. As the Bible said in Malachi above, Then the people of all nations will call you happy…
Greed will destroy you by materialism.
But generosity will detach you from materialism.
By Tithing, you gain freedom.
By Tithing, you gain a greater love for God.
The greek word of “Holy” is “Hagios”; which literally means “setting apart yourself for God”. Tithing is exactly that—setting apart a specific amount for God.
When I was a small boy, my father used an ancient, large, silver spoon. No one else could use that spoon. It was Hagios for him and him alone.
It was so large, it could only fit in Dad’s mouth. More important, it was made of silver. Everyone else used cheap stainless steel spoons. But not Dad. He deserved the best.
Tithing is exactly like that.
Our Tithes are sacred. Our Tithes are Hagios. They’re set apart for God. No one can touch it. And we always offer the best for the Lord.
How can hunger be a blessing?
Believe me, a person without hunger is a miserable person who lives a meaningless life.
Yes, hunger is a great blessing!
When you tithe, you stir up your hunger within you.
Last week, someone asked me, “Bo, you’re a entrepreneur and a missionary. If you were only an entrepreneur, you’d probably be ten times richer!”
The answer is a resounding No! If I wasn’t a missionary, I’d be ten times poorer. Because if I wasn’t a missionary, I wouldn’t have had the great hunger I have today.
Here’s my guess: After the initial success of my businesses, I would have remained complacent. I’d tell myself, “Why earn more? Why work harder?” There was no purpose.
But because my goal was to raise money for my ministry, this hunger drove me to earn more.
I’m truly rich now because I tithe—and give more than my tithe.
And I have so many dreams for God’s work. These dreams fuel my hunger.
I’ve met people who have earned a lot of money and have lost their passion for life. Because they have lost their hunger. Their dreams have been fulfilled and they have no new dreams.
But that’s because they only think of themselves.
Two weeks ago, I told my audience, “I’ve got bad news, good news, and bad news. Bad news: My accountant says it’ll take lots of money to make our dream of building 1000 Feasts come true. Good news: We now have all the money we need to build 1000 Feasts. Praise God! And finally, here’s the Bad news: All that money is still in your pockets.”
I believe that if Catholics start tithing, we’ll have all the money to do God’s work.
Some people tell me, “I’m a bit hard up now. When my income increases, that’s when I’ll tithe.”
This is scarcity thinking. And a person with a scarcity mindset cannot tithe.
Tithing is like planting seeds. You don’t wait for good times before you plant seeds. You sow in times of famine. Because that’s the only way to break the cycle of poverty.
Tithing is a declaration of abundance. You believe that God’s blessings will flow back to you.
Put me to the test and you will see that I will open the windows of heaven and pour out on you in abundance all kinds of good things.
Let me now answer two of the most common questions I receive.
1. “Where Do I Bring My Tithe?”
A lot of people ask me, “Bo, I help my poor relatives. Can I consider that Tithing?”
Let me speak as a Catholic here. Since Tithing for us isn’t a Law but a Love, there really are no black and white rules on this matter.
But let me give you a guideline. Malachi says to “bring your tithes to the Temple”. That means your first priority is to support the spiritual family that nourishes you in your spiritual growth. Support God’s work of sharing His love to the world.
I cannot impose my practice on you, but this is what I do: I give my Tithes to God’s work and I give my Alms to the poor. I set aside a separate amount for my charity work. I’m able to do that because of the way God has prospered me.
I repeat: There are no black and white rules. At the end of the day, you have to decide where to give your Tithes.
My 3 house helpers, like most house helpers, send a huge percentage of their salaries back home. But despite this, I still urged them to tithe to God’s work.
Giving to poor relatives was a wonderful thing and I encouraged them to keep on doing that. But when they also gave to God’s work—that stretched their minds. A shift happened within them. They began to discard scarcity and take on abundance.
2. “Should I Give a Tithe Based On Net Or Gross?”
Everywhere I go, people ask me this question.
And it’s a very valid question.
If Bill earns P50,000 a month, and his tax is 30%–he actually takes home only P35,000. If a Tithe is 10%, should Bill give to God P5,000 or P3,500?
I answer in this way: How do you want to be blessed? Do you want your blessings to be based on the Net or on the Gross?
Again, since Tithing isn’t a Law but a Love, this is really up to you.
And this question becomes a non-issue when you challenge yourself to increase your tithes as God prospers you.
Rick Warren, author of Purpose-Driven Life, gave a reverse tithe. Because of his big royalties from his bestselling books, he’s now able to give 90% of his income and keeps only 10%.
The Last Reward
Let me end with two stories.
My first is about a man who died and went to Heaven.
He was met at the Pearly Gates by St. Peter who said, “Welcome!” And the Saint led the man down the golden streets. As they walked along, he saw huge sprawling mansions one after another. Until they came to the end of the street where they stopped in front of a very small nipa hut. “This is your house,” said St. Peter.
The man was disappointed. He asked St. Peter, “Why am I getting a nipa hut?”
St. Peter replied, “I did the best with the money you sent us.”
Whatever you give is an eternal investment.
The only way to keep your wealth is by giving it away.
Give it away and you’ll see it again in the Kingdom of Heaven.
My Personal Experience
My last story is about my experience with Tithing.
Once upon a time, I was poor.
Twenty years ago, I was so poor, there were days when I didn’t have enough money for a haircut. There were days when I didn’t have money to eat in a fastfood. There were days when I didn’t even have enough money to ride the bus to preach in a prayer meeting.
Yet through my poverty, I kept Tithing whatever I received.
Today, God has blessed me with small businesses. After many failures, I’m now a successful entrepreneur.
Last month, I donated P1 million to the ministry. (I don’t like sharing that to you because I know I lose brownie points in Heaven. I share it not to brag. I share it to stress a very important point.)
That was a dream come true for me. For years, I dreamt of writing a check of one million.
Last month, it happened.
I believe in Tithing. It works.
If you don’t believe me, just try.
In other words, experiment, and see what happens.
God says, Put me to the test and you will see that I will open the windows of heaven and pour out on you in abundance all kinds of good things…
May your dreams come true,