Where have I been since August 16th? Getting my guys back to work, a trip, company, canning, another trip, more company, more canning, an interesting weekend, more company (I am one blessed Auntie 'Ginia!), another trip and a LOT of rest!!
This morning I woke up to hear someone on the radio talking about tithing. They were talking about tithing money and about the blessings God promises when we do. I had two problems with what was said and I wonder what you think about this.
First, they were restricting their definition of the tithe to money. My understanding of the Old Testament culture is that tithing was everything you had. It was the produce from your land and your flocks. You were expected to use your artistic talents for the benefit of the temple. You were expected to expend time and energy to keep the temple and the city maintained. So how much time are we spending working to maintain our church? How much of our energy goes into training a class of 13 year-olds during the week? How much time do we spend using our talents, whether that be artistic or scientific, to improve our church building? Writing a check for these things is not that difficult, even when our finances are not in great shape. Being the one to take the initiative and teach a single mother how to grocery shop economically, or change her oil and rotate her tires for her when it needs to be done (not necessarily on our twice a year schedule if we even have such a program) is another matter entirely.
The other problem I had with what was said was the assumption that the blessing God states He will pour out on us when we are faithful with our finances is more money. More money? Better financial stability? If that is the blessing, what do we say to the vibrant, committed Christians living in China, Sudan, and Indonesia who have nothing? These people who take money they could use to improve their family's diet and instead give it to another Christian who is suffering? Or the Christians who have no church to give their money to? Shortly after a man I know lost his home to hurricane Katrina, he was traveling in a third-world country to preach and teach and help pastors in that country. When one of those groups found out about his loss, they took up a collection to help him. These were people who in one year will make less than most of us will make in a week. This was a man who had resources like insurance, extended family, and governmental programs to help he and his wife recover. He was taken aback by this desire to help but the translator insisted that he could not refuse because it would remove a blessing from those wanting to give. The people who helped are not in much better financial shape now than they were then. However the joy and the grace that they received from this act is immeasurable. The blessings that God promises are so much more than money and "financial peace". To interpret them to mean that is limiting God and denying ourselves an opportunity to experience what He means by the word "blessing". It is time we moved beyond this limited thinking and started growing in our understanding a bit more. God's blessings of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are far more valuable than having a healthy checking account, a big home, an extra car and several months worth of food in our freezers and pantries!
Recently Mark and I have been thinking and talking a LOT about stewardship in our home. I'll leave you with a verse that keeps coming to mind as we think and talk about this...this is the verse that is on our dry-erase board in our kitchen.
"Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself (poured Himself out), taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men." Phil. 2:5-7
Pour yourself out for the glory of God today!