Marsha and I have received our tax rebate, and now we are deciding what to do with it. As a tax-paying couple we received the full $1,200, and now we have decisions to make. Or normal pattern is that we tithe the first 10% of our income, save the next 10% through a variety of instruments including life insurance, personal pension, and a savings account, and then we live off the other 80%. We are fortunate to have reached a time of life that we also can use accumulated savings for additional giving as opportunities and needs arise, but that basic 10-10-80 pattern has been our lifestyle for many years.

However, this unexpected tax rebate has caused us to have a few discussions about how to use it wisely and in a way that witnesses to our faith and values. We are not yet sure what we will do. Certainly it would be easy just to spend it all, and even the President and Congress are asking us to do that as an incentive to the US economy. Spending the money or frittering it away would be easy, but somehow that does not seem wise. We like to be more intentional with our resources, because we believe God asks us to be good stewards of all that we are and all that we have.

How about you? How will you spend your tax rebate? I urge you to tithe it to your local church, because your local church is likely having cash needs just like the rest of the economy. I urge you to save some of it, because that gives you flexibility for the future, and in fact most Americans today have departed from the classic pattern of saving in anticipation of future needs and unexpected emergencies. Beyond giving 10% and saving 10% or more, how will you use the rest?

Whether we like it or not, our checkbooks and our pocketbooks (along with our calendars) reveal our real values and our real Christian commitment. Talk is cheap (don’t we know that from all of the political campaigns!), and it is easy to write e-mails and resolutions about what others should be doing, but the real measure of what we believe is how we spend our time and our money. It reminds me of those membership vows we take as United Methodists – to support our church and to live our Christian faith by our time, our talents, our gifts, and our service.

Meanwhile, Marsha and I are still making our decision about our tax rebate. It is an important decision, because it is about more than just the money.

from Bishop Michael J. Coyner
Indiana Area of The United Methodist Church