Disciplined Abundance 101

Theatre III – Cocoonianity

(Excerpted from Harlem Meets Mayberry)

We are headed for a talk about money, and you’re probably wary, and I don’t blame you.  As you’ve read through the Cocoonian progression so far, you’ve probably detected a stronger and stronger odor of “reparations.”  You may have caught such a powerful whiff of reparations that you are bracing yourself for my absurd suggestion that all the white people should just throw a bunch of money into a pot and let all the black people split it among themselves.  Rest assured that I am not about to suggest any such thing.  To suggest such a thing would be sentimental, liberal nonsense, and you cannot be a sentimental liberal and a sincere Christian.  For that matter, neither can you be a “hardcore conservative” and a sincere Christian either, but more on that never.  “Liberal” and “conservative” are Caesar’s labels, not Jesus’ labels.

Reparations are a stench in the nostrils of greedy Christians and generous Christians alike, but for different reasons.  The greedy don’t want reparations simply because they prefer to cling to their money.  The generous don’t want reparations because they believe that private generosity is always much more effective than public generosity.  They know that “generosity” at the point of the IRS’ gun isn’t generosity at all and is therefore futile.  Simply put, generous Christians believe—and rightly so—that no amount of money given against their will can produce any lasting benefit because God loves a cheerful giver, not a grumpy giver (2 Cor. 9:7).

So while it’s true that we’re headed for a talk about money, it’s also true that we are swaying far from the path of so-called reparations.  Caesar is on the path toward reparations, which is wide and ultimately leads to a dead end.  We are searching for a narrower and better way.  As it turns out, that way has already been found, and it is the way of Disciplined Abundance (DA).

I’m not the one who discovered the way of Disciplined Abundance, not by a longshot.  Countless others have taken the way, and there are many on it right now.  In fact, there are so many people on it that you almost certainly know someone who’s on it, but you probably don’t know who that “someone” is.

Confused?  What I mean is that even if your next-door neighbor is on the way of DA, you probably don’t know it.  That’s because of a curious instruction from Jesus himself.  Jesus said, more or less, “When you give, don’t toot your own horn, because if you act like a bigshot on earth you’ll lose bigshot points in heaven (Matthew 6:2).”  His actual words were, “So, when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets (this is where we got the term, “toot your own horn”) as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others.  Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”   In giving this instruction Jesus established the most wholesome and least creepy “secret society” in the history of earth, a secret society so secret that even the members don’t know each other!

Jesus set up a secret society that is intended to do nothing but good and give glory only to God, a secret society that has absolutely no membership restrictions.  You can join if you’re black or white, rich or poor, A.M.E. or Catholic.  You can join if you want to, and my purpose in the next few chapters is to help you want to.

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of Disciplined Abundance and the awe-inspiring power it can unleash in the War on RD, let’s take a step back and look at the whole scale of Christian generosity.  This will give us a deep and wide-eyed appreciation of Disciplined Abundance and its role in the War on RD.

At the far end of the Christian Generosity Scale, let’s say the left end, is the “Potential Giver,” which is a polite way of saying, “the Christian who never gives a cent.”  God bless the potential giver because the potential giver has…well, potential.

Moving to the right we find the Hiccup Giver.  The Hiccup Giver may give a little or a lot at one time, but his distinguishing mark is that his giving is as unpredictable as a case of the hiccups.  His money is just as good as anyone else’s, you just don’t know when it’s coming or how much it will be.

To the right of the Hiccup Giver is the Wild Tither.  The Wild Tither is a wild and crazy guy…or gal.  He gives each and every week, but his “tithe” is based on a wild mix of fear, optimism, faith, doubt, depression, jubilation, prayer, news, weather, sports and any number of other random factors and emotions.  The Wild Tither is steadily unsteady; he drops a check in the basket every week, by golly, but only God knows what the amount will be.

Next on the Christianity Generosity Scale is the Yellow Belt Tither.  This term comes from the world of martial arts, where a yellow belt is often awarded on the basis of attendance rather than achievement.  Those who “earn” a yellow belt in martial arts are neither highly trained nor highly skilled:  If some kid can beat you up before you start studying martial arts, that same kid can still beat you up after you get your yellow belt.  The yellow belt is not so much a sign of achievement as it is a symbol of encouragement.  When the Sensei gives the Grasshopper a yellow belt he is essentially saying, “You can master this discipline if you continue to train in it.”

Similarly, the Yellow Belt Tither (YBT) is not yet a genuine and fully trained tither.  He may talk as if he is “breaking boards” and moving mountains with his so-called tithe, but the fact is that his “tithe” is some arbitrary figure well south of 10% of his income.  True, he gives each week, the same amount each week, but it’s not a real tithe.

The YBT is a more refined version of the Wild Tither.  The YBT has taken his whole universe of emotions, blended them in the mixer of his mind, added a few drops of “Nectar of Theological Hodge-Podge” and settled on a “tithe” that’s 3.7% (or some other random percentage) of his income.  God bless the Yellow Belt Tither because, for one of the few times in his life, he’s gotten excited about something and stuck with it for more than six weeks.

The next slot on the Christian Generosity Scale is occupied by an interesting character known as the Death and Taxes Tither, or DTT.  The DTT “tithes” a full 10% of his take-home pay rather than his pre-tax pay.  The way he sees it, taxes are as certain as death, and since he never sees his tax money he shouldn’t have to tithe on it.  After all, it never went through his hands, and if nobody ever saw it, it was never really income. The distinguishing mark of the Death and Taxes Tither is that deep down inside, he views his tithe as just another tax rather than as a sacred privilege.  God bless the DTT because, well, there are so many of them!

Moving on along, we come to the Bloodhound Tither, or BT.  The BT gives a full 10% of his pre-tax income.  Not only that, but he’s constantly on the scent for unexpected sources of income he can tithe on; that’s why he’s called a Bloodhound.  If he gets a bonus, he tithes on that.  If he gets 2% cash back from Capital One, he tithes on that.  If his Aunt Ruthie sends him a dollar for Valentine’s Day, God get a dime by golly.

In the BT’s world, not one single dime ever sneaks into his home without God getting HIS penny.  This is because deep down, the BT sees money as filthy lucre, and the only way to de-louse filthy lucre is to sniff through it and wash out a full 10%, sometimes 10.1% just to err on the side of sanitation.  God bless the BT because he’s the guy who’s been voted Most Likely To Display This Bumper Sticker:  “If 10% is good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for the IRS.”

Before we look at the last two slots on the Christian Generosity Scale, let’s review the stages we’ve introduced so far.  This will give those who are interested a bit more clarity and those who are not interested a chance to hide their wallets.

Potential Giver:  Never gives a cent…but might when Jupiter aligns with Mars.

Hiccup Giver:  All over the place, all the time.

Wild Tither:  All over the place but steady (huh?!!)

Yellow Belt Tither:  Poster child for the sub-10% “tithe.”

Death and Taxes Tither:  Give 10% of take-home pay.

Bloodhound Tither:  Gives 10% of pre-tax income.

Next time we’ll tackle Disciplined Abundance 202.

Be street smart yet harmless.  Peace.


Tommy Libre

Thomas P. Scribbins, a.k.a. Tommy Libré, is an inspirational writer and businessman living in what Mayberry calls “Hotlanta” and Harlem calls “The A.T.L.” A former engineer and roofing contractor who has worked his way down the ladder, he is married to Kathy—his “Trophy Babe” for the past 37 years—and has three grown sons. Harlem Meets Mayberry will be published around Christmas by Xulon Press. After that, Tommy will turn some of his attention to his next book—“Code Red Christianity”—and some to his lifetime dream, which is to open a substance-conquest ministry called Ugly Orphans. At Ugly Orphans, the cool softball T-shirts will be just the beginning of the fun. WooHoo!