She should be taught from the first, that tithes were a symbol of God’s claim to the whole; not, as some feel, a means of buying off His claim, so that conscience need put in no word about the remaining nine-tenths.” [Ch. 3, pg. 45]
As a newly-wed who is at last finding out how to budget for living expenses, this chapter on finances. Ms. Soulsby rightly looks at all the responsibilities of life as duties to God, and the subject of money is no exception. Most of the beginning of the chapter is dedicated to teaching young girls the principles of handling money wisely. The teaching methods are not altogether useful to me since I have no children under my care at present, but the principles ring true.
…unfortunately, people who think at all about the duties of money, are apt to think in detail, instead of rising to principles; and every detail of saving which is not based on some large principle of duty or proportion is almost sure to be stinginess…If you must teach a girl economy with one hand you must teach her generosity with the other…” [Ch. 3, pg. 46]
I have been blessed with a very generous husband, and I’m so glad I’ve got him to steer me back toward a right attitude of giving. Let me never be Mrs. John Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility, who talks her husband out of doing the right thing by his grieving and financially unstable family! An extreme example, but not to taken lightly, either. Mrs. Dashwood tells her husband, “…we are not to think of their expectations: the question is, what you can afford to do.” She’s right that it doesn’t matter what people expect, but of course it matters very greatly what God expects of us. Ms. Soulsby remarks, “you can make your instinct for saving a valuable force for good, by making yourself give what you save.” [Ch. 3, pg. 47] The author also has quite a bit to say about cultivating economy and curbing wasteful habits, but such quotes really belong in a Thrifty Friday post more than they do here.
…it is just as clear a duty to plan our money as to play our time. Perhaps you do neither. But if so, you can hardly be a faithful steward, thought you may be a very generous one.” [Ch. 3, pg. 51]
Right now, I’ve got a good deal of time on my hands and my personal struggle is to use it efficiently in purposeful ways. Later in Ms. Soulsby’s work, she’s got a good deal to say about Sloth, and let me tell you, it hits home! Time is not meant to be frittered away between appointments, and God forgive me for ever regarding any pursuit as a way to “kill time.” Time is an incredibly precious gift, to be put on the sacrificial altar along with the rest as a offering to God.
Girls should learn from the first that charity is a real claim on each one of us, not to be met by a penny from the mother’s purse for the offertory, and, later in life, from spasmodic giving when the feelings are roused by some specially sad case…But all of you who value steady habit and the acting on principle will appreciate the character training involved in the tithe, as contrasted with the indulgence of that emotion…” [Ch. 3, pg. 57]
In keeping with the title Stray Thoughts on Character, Ms. Soulsby always brings the focus back to training one’s own character by regular completion of duty to the glory of God–by doing little things religiously. Setting aside at least a tenth of our income monthly, whether we can “afford to” or not, is simply another way we can honor the Lord by a) trusting Him to provide when we can’t afford to, and b) maintaining a mindset that it all belongs to Him in any regard.
“If we want to be good stewards, we must, as George Herbert says, ‘Restore to God His due in time and tithe.'” [Ch. 3, pg. 57]