Tithing Versus Charity Giving

TithingI’ve been studying metaphysics in one form or another for almost 29 years, so when it comes to manifesting prosperity I thought I’d “heard it all”. Then, a friend invited me hear Edwene Gaines, a former Unity Minister, speak about prosperity at the Center for Spiritual Living, saying that the speaker is always very entertaining. I was not familiar with Edwene Gaines, but I enjoy being entertained and thought it would be a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Whatever the current state of the economy happens to be, I know first-hand that we all create our own “economies” through our thoughts and feelings. So, I expected Edwene Gaines to entertain and uplift, but I did not expert her to surprise me. I am happy to report that she accomplished all three!

First, it’s important to explain that Edwene defines prosperity as:

  • Having a ”vitally alive, healthy body”, for the God-being that we are to express through
  • Relationships that are joyous, satisfying, intimate, honest, and nurturing, and that work all the time
  • Work that we love so much it’s not work but play
  • Plus…All the money that we can spend

OK, so probably no big surprise in this list, although it may surprise some that prosperity and abundance are never just about money, and a few may think it’s impossible to be paid to do what you love. She went on to explain that she believes there are four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity:

1. Tithing: Returning 10% of everything received back to where we’ve been spiritually fed
2. Forgiving ourselves and others every day
3. Clear Goal Setting for tangible goals
4. Following our divine purpose in the world

When Edwene mentioned Tithing, my first thought was, “Oh, yeah, I’ve been donating 10% to charities for years…most of the time on auto-pilot as I get so many chartity requests, but I’m not sure it has improved my prosperity!” Then, she clarified that tithing (means “tenth”) does NOT include charity giving! Yes, this surprised me…does it surprise you, too?

A former Unity Minister, Edwene quotes the Bible often, and explains that money, like all energy, is intended to expand and grow, so it behooves us to give our first tenth to expand the world in a positive way. That would eliminate charities. When we give first to charities, we are giving to the NEED, to scarcity, to lack, and creating dependency, thereby encouraging the NEED and scarcity and lack to expand. (And it does…none of the charity issues I donate to are resolving!)

However, Edwene was very careful to say that we can support charities after we have tithed to what feeds us spiritually. She says it is best to first reward the source of our spiritual food in order for such sources to expand, then donate to charities after that. In some cases, the places that uplift you may also be charities, such as Humane Societies that provide the pet you love dearly or Open Space organizations that maintain your favorite hiking trails. Many people tithe all 10% directly to their church or spiritual group, but Edwene says you can also tithe to anyone who uplifts you: motivational authors, uplifting speakers, supportive friends, a regular and reliable waitress, your hair dresser or a massage therapist…virtually anyone whose words and/or actions have proven fruitful in helping you grow spiritually or be a better person. You can also tithe to a place that renews your soul, such as the organization supporting hiking trails or a public park. Everyone’s list will be different, depending on what feeds them.

Explaining the importance of giving to abundance, rather than lack/need/scarcity, Edwene said once we prove our trust in our Source** providing every financial need by giving the first 10th (10%) directly to the people, places, and institutions that spiritually feed us, our incomes will grow so large that it will be easy to give additionally to charities. By doing it this way, she explains, our contributions will be much more powerful because they will come from the heart, thereby expanding our own prosperity and our capacity to help ourselves as well as others.

I realize this may be very hard to swallow for someone who is wondering where the money for rent or their next meal is coming from, but that’s an entirely different conversation about trusting your connection to Source Energy (God, All-That-Is) and your birthright to receive abundance. Edwene was in dire financial straights as a single mother when she first began to tithe and knows personally how hard it is to take that first step.

The point Edwene was making is that we need to give from our hearts, not from the tax-deducting thoughts in our heads. And donating our time is not the same as trusting that Source is always providing, so we can easily make a financial commitment from our wallet.

I can relate to the destructiveness of not giving from my heart. Early last year, I found myself feeling obligated to give 10% to charities and really only doing it for the deductions. No part of my heart was involved. Charities would send a ‘gift’ and then ask for donations. I never asked for, nor did I even want the gifts, but I certainly felt obligated to give, and in a negative way. My money probably did little for them, since it was filled with an irritated sense of obligation. Half way through the year, I decided that I needed to change and that I would no longer give unless it at least felt good in my heart to do so. While that helped, I was still giving first to charity and my charity giving was not improving my financial situation.

Now, Edwene was helping me to see the error of my ways: I had been focusing my first tenth on NEED, scarcity, lack and creating dependency”and frankly, resenting the *heck* out of it! It was time to focus on where I was being spiritually fed. Considering myself a non-religious but highly spiritual person, the sources of my spiritual food are rarely, if ever, institutions. More often, I am fed by spiritual and motivational teachers who have written books, recorded CDs, channeled information, and/or filmed uplifting movies. When I think about sending money to some of my greatest sources of spiritual inspiration, I must say it feels really wonderful in my heart, but my head immediately starts to say, “Waidahminute! Those people are already multi-millionaires! They don’t NEED my money…” LOL! No they don’t ‘need’ money, and perhaps that’s exactly the point Edwene was trying to make! According to the scriptures Edwene quotes, it has always been intended that our tithes would go to the places that uplift us, to further encourage the upliftment of the world. Granted, some people may feel they are uplifted by their house of religious worship, but many do not. If you are one of latter, then you need to find out where you are most uplifted, positively motivated, and spiritually fed.

I can say that while it initially struck me as odd to tithe only to sources of spiritual fulfillment first, and donate to charities after that, the idea feels really good in my heart. It makes heart-sense, if you will. And, if I’ve learned anything over the past 29 years, it is to pay attention to and follow my heart. I imagine good things could happen if everyone, even those receiving tithes, put 10% directly back into the world to make it a better, more uplifting place.

At the end of her talk, Edwene asked us to donate money to the Center for Spiritual Living, and having felt entertained, uplifted, and enlightened, I was happy to give a tenth of what was in my purse. When I got home from Sunday’s talk, I checked my email and discovered a new and unexpected PayPal payment had just arrived! I smiled because I knew exactly who to send the first 10th to!

Try this!
Make a list of every person, place, or institution that uplifts you. Have the list handy so that as money comes to you, you can begin to send the first tenth directly to the sources of your spiritual food without second-guessing. If, like me, you find your pet(s) or hiking outdoors to be uplifting, then consider adding your local Humane Society, Open Space and/or Public Parks to your list. What about people who have uplifted and motivated you? Once you begin to ask this question, you’ll be more aware of who, what, and where that feeds you…and you’ll be ready when it comes time to tithe.

PS: If you have a chance to hear Edwene Gaines speak, I highly recommend it…she had the entire audience in hysterics laughing, smiling, nodding, and most importantly thinking abundantly! I don’t get anything from recommending her. You can learn more about Edwene, and see her books and other products, at prosperityproducts.com.

**However you define your Source: Source Energy, Divine Source, God, All-That-Is, Alla, Buddha…

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