Much of my money goes to three “T’s”

The first “T’ is taxes. I do not like them. I fuss about paying them. But I understand the reasons for them.

Sales tax, property tax, estate tax, gift tax, gasoline tax, hotel tax, sin tax, export and import taxes, Social Security tax, Medicare tax, Unemployment tax, tobacco and alcohol taxes, and the list goes on.

April 15 every year we Americans are acutely aware of income taxes. I dread it and each year I promise myself that I will keep better records next year in order to lower my tax liability.

I remember my oldest child’s first pay check from a “real” job. He was appalled at how much his employer deducted for taxes. He was upset about the amount and that it was not optional.

Although paying taxes can be painful, I understand the value gained from that source of revenue for our government. I am grateful for the services that are provided from that income. I am thankful for police and fire protection, good roads, good schools, and the myriad of other things that are possible because we dutifully pay our various taxes.

The matter of taxes comes up in the life of Jesus as recorded in the Bible. On one occasion he instructs Peter to catch a fish where he would find money for taxes in the fish’s mouth. Another time Jesus’ detractors tried to trick him by asking if it was right to pay taxes to Caesar. His answer: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

The second “T” is the tip. Tipping is a part of American culture. If you go to a restaurant for dinner, there is an expectation that a tip will be left for your server. Many restaurants even provide a guide for the amount that is appropriate. This is not the custom in all countries of the world. However the service industry in this country is structured where wait staff are paid a very minimal wage (not the federally mandated minimum wage) and are dependent on tips for their income.

Waiting tables is hard work and I always try to be generous with the tip. There are other services that I receive from people who deserve better pay than they are getting. I am glad to ante up for their benefit.

The third “T” that I am committed to is the tithe. The Old Testament of the Bible has a lot to say about giving the “first fruits” to the Lord and instruction is given to “bring the tithes and offerings into the storehouse.” I understand that the context of that statement was different from the church of today. But I believe giving the first tenth of my income to the work of God through the Church is a solid biblical principle.

I learned from my mother that everything I have is because of the generosity of God. Making the tithe my first financial priority is a way of acknowledging the Source and demonstrating my gratitude for what I have received. By “giving to God first” I am also reminded that how I use/spend the remainder is a sacred trust and one that I should assume prayerfully not only for my good but for the benefit of all humankind.

Jamie Jenkins

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