The Dad Tax
And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you. Genesis 28:22
I’d like to say it was only when my kids were little, but I still do it. Whenever we get ice cream, I don’t get any for myself – I’m trying to eat healthy – but I still want a bite. So, I go to my kids, asking for the dad tax. When they were kids, they protested, but they offer it freely now. They now understand that I paid for it and gave it to them. It’s theirs, but in gratitude, they offer me my dad tax bite. As a dad, I want to give to my kids, but I’d also like them to be grateful. If they protested that the ice cream was theirs and refused to share with me, I’d be hurt. It’s not that I really want ice cream – I could buy my own. It’s just that I’m appreciative of gratitude and frustrated by entitlement. I believe it’s in my kid’s best interest that they understand where their ice cream came from and express gratitude for the gift.
In today’s passage, Jacob displayed an appropriate expression of gratitude. In the story, God appeared in Jacob’s dream, promising that his descendants would multiply and possess the land upon which he was sleeping. God vowed to go with Jacob, protecting and blessing him wherever he went. When Jacob awoke, he erected a pillar, creating an early temple for God. Additionally, Jacob pledged to give a tenth of everything he had, back to God. Jacob understood that because everything he possessed was from God, it was good and right to return a tenth of it, displaying his gratitude. Did God need that tenth back? No, of course not. But it was spiritually healthy for Jacob to acknowledge the source of his blessings.
The same is true for us. Everything we have has been given to us by God. We may believe we’re self-made, but even our abilities are God-given. Our air, water, and sun are all sustained by God’s hand and our very lives exist only by his will. It’s spiritually healthy for us to acknowledge this by giving thanks to God. We can express gratitude verbally, but if we refuse to give anything, our words are hollow. To truly express gratitude, like Jacob, we must give back to God substantially from what he’s given us. If we are thankful, then we must give financially to our churches, charities, and parachurch organizations. We must give of our time and energy to those around us. God loves to give to us, but he also loves it when we freely and joyfully pay our dad tax.