Nearly all civilizations have practiced some form of philanthropy. Many ancient civilizations levied a tithe or tax for the poor. The Egyptians and Greeks gave money to establish libraries and universities by encouraging members to tithe. Medieval churches supported hospitals and orphanages.
The word tithe is from the Old English word teogotha, which means "a tenth part." To tithe means to tax one-tenth of a person's income. In the Bible, to tithe was to support the religious order given in the Bible, which states, "when you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the Lord's offering. Your offering will be reckoned to you as grain from the threshing floor, or the wine press."
Many people believe that by tithing, they appease their god and secure their place in heaven. Inside of King's College Chapel in Cambridge, England, are these words of William Wordsworth, "Give all thou canst. High heaven rejects the love of nicely calculated less or more."
The underlying belief is that if we give our bountiful share of this life's abundance, then we will receive all we are due on earth and in heaven. Benjamin Franklin is remembered not only for his statesmanship, but also for his tithing. George Washington wrote as follows, to Franklin in 1789, "If to be venerated for benevolence, if to be admired for talents, if to be esteemed for patriotism, if to be beloved for philanthropy, can gratify the human mind, you must have the pleasing consolation to know that you have not lived in vain."
In his will, Franklin left $5,000 each in trust for 200 years to Boston and Philadelphia for philanthropic purposes, a sizeable amount of money at that time. Franklin also established America's first city hospital, the Pennsylvania Hospital for the Unfortunate.
Andrew Carnegie used a large share of his fortune to establish many cultural, educational, and scientific institutions. He believed that surplus wealth is a sacred trust which its possessor is bound to administer in his lifetime for the good of the community.
In 1901, Carnegie's fortune was estimated to be an outstanding $500 million, of which he donated $350 million to a variety of causes. His generosity established 2,500 public libraries throughout the world, provided construction for the famed Carnegie Hall in New York City, and created the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and the Carnegie Institution of Washington to encourage research and biological and physical sciences. Carnegie said, "Individualism will continue, but the millionaire will be but a trustee of the poor. Entrusted for a season with a great part of the increased wealth of the community, but administering it for the community far better than it would have done for itself."
Tithing often brings prosperity and honor because it's an important aspect of the law of giving and receiving, which is an integral part of the law of cause and effect. As you give forth, so shall you receive.
A lot of people right now are seeking economic healing. Many of them are probably thinking, But I can barely make ends meet with the money I'm currently making. How can I give 10%, 5%, or even 1% to charity? Well, this is a case where conserving your resources in order to give a portion away actually has a paradoxical effect. Many people who are living paycheck to paycheck are so focused on their own financial situation that they rarely have time to think of the needs of others. But, remember, as we've already discussed, spiritual and material abundance can result only by focusing on the needs of others. By conserving your money and spending it more efficiently, perhaps through a budget, you will not only find money that you were previously wasting on trivialities, but your tithing will actually bring about economic healing.
Upon researching the activity of tithing, it is found that tithing establishes a consistent method of giving and for stewarding the bounty in one's life. This consistency can help the mind to build an awareness toward supply, abundance, and further giving.
In my lifetime of observing many hundreds of families, almost without exception, the family that tithes for more than 10 years becomes both prosperous and happy. This is the one investment suitable for all people.
Charles Fillmore, co-founder of Unity School of Christianity in the United States, made a powerful statement regarding our thoughts and money. He said, "Watch your thoughts when you're handling your money, because your money is attached through your mind to the one source of all substance and all money. When you think of your money, which is visible, as something directly attached to an invisible source that is giving or withholding, according to your thought, you have the key to all riches and the reason for all lack."
Are you willing or willful? Do you work well with other people's ideas and direction? Or do you demand to have your own way? When we exert our will in every situation, we may be forming a logjam that blocks the flow of good in our lives. When we allow others to express their ideas and to share in planning and direction, we open ourselves to different ideas and find new direction in the flow of life.
After trees are felled for processing into wood products, they are often floated down river to the mill. Occasionally logs will become stuck on rocks or some other obstruction. More logs become entangled, until virtually all of them are caught in a massive logjam. Dynamite is then used to untangle the mess, remove the block, and start the logs moving downstream again. Although the dynamite removes the block, it also blows what would have been usable lumber into an unusable scattering of mulch, resulting in a tremendous waste of raw materials.
When we are willful, when we are full of our own will, we may be blocking the flow of good in our lives, just as the logjam blocks the flow of logs. What happens when we become stuck in our own willfulness? Like the lumberjack who uses dynamite to break up the logjam, life will come along with someone or some event that can blow us out of our stuck place. The results are often painful and destructive. The more we resist the flow of life, the greater potential for an unpleasant occurrence. The more logs that are piled up in the jam, the more dynamite is necessary to get it unstuck.
Furthermore, when we are willful, we no longer invest ourselves in the service of others. Instead, as Stephen Covey likes to say, "We are making continual withdrawals from the emotional bank account of others. We are taking psychological energy away from others, which, if maintained long enough, can only breed resentment."
Science has made us aware of forces in nature that because they are greater than ourselves, we may never overcome. Some call these forces God or Mother Nature or Tao. Whatever they are called, our lives are more enjoyable and fulfilling when we learn to work harmoniously with them. Willingness means being willing to work with the mighty forces of nature and with the forces or laws of inner wealth. When we are at variance with someone, the argument we use enables the other person to see quite well that we wish to win out, which may be why he prepares to resist rather than to recognize the truth. A battle of human wills often unfolds.
By beginning this way, instead of making some kind of opening in his mind, we usually close the door of his heart. On the other hand, how quickly we may open the door to cooperation by gentleness, humility, and courtesy.
David and his brother Michael were complete opposites. Michael was a successful businessman, while David took seasonal jobs at dude ranches, parks, and resorts. Concerned for David's welfare, Michael tried to entice him with the good life. He would send David photos labeled, "My new sound system." "My new computer." Or "My..." whatever.
The campaign ended when Michael received a poster from his brother showing a breathtaking view of Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park in the United States. On the back of the poster was David's message, "My backyard."
Too often we tend to take the facts of our lives for granted. We may learn to work within the self-imposed limitations we've experienced in our development, or we may have developed the habit of floating from one logjam to another, allowing the forces of life to explode our world and reduce our potential for inner greatness.
We have the ability to work with the forces in our lives in various ways to experience greater expression of who we are and what we're capable of being. This requires a willingness to take a new look at our current attitudes. It requires the willingness to change our minds, to think again, to make new choices, to subordinate our willfulness in favor of willingness.
We can start anew from where we are right now. We can choose to work with and not against the spiritual forces of life and to experience the good that is present for us. Willpower, which is understood to be the strength of mind that makes it capable of meeting success or failure with equanimity, is not to be confused with willfulness, which is a demanding of one's personal wishes with no thought or consideration of other possibilities.