Continued from here.
Now, I do have the spiritual gift of administration, so organization comes easily to me. The Bible assures us that each Christian has been given at least one spiritual gift, so definitely enjoy the area or areas in which you get to do something effortlessly thanks to the Holy Spirit. But note how easy it can be to take that gift for granted. You don’t have to put any effort into that area, so it can be easy to become baffled why it’s a challenge for other people.
In contrast, any area for which you must work, which is going to be most areas, becomes an area that drives you repeatedly into God’s arms—or to connect back to the Vine —because you will otherwise fail. This grows your relationship with God and takes much effort—much repeated focus at you step out in obedience over and over again. As you progress in that area of your life, you have much to celebrate, and that progress has much value because you know all you sacrificed to achieve it.
As an example, I used to be a very stingy person and truly did not believe anyone ever tithed. Today, not only do I tithe, but I give generously above the tithe, and I actually feel really good about it. This did not happen overnight – it was a slow process that cost me a lot of pride. I began tithing solely out of obedience, and I begrudged every penny. I was certainly not a cheerful giver in any respect. Today, God will place on my heart to give a large sum to help someone in need, and I feel joyful about the opportunity to serve God in that way as well as to bless the other person. There’s no internal wrestling over this. All I have belongs to God, and it’s available for Him to distribute in any way He pleases. I know how much effort it took to get me from my starting point to where I am today, and I deeply value the freedom God has given me as I have removed money as an idol in my life. I value that my security comes from God, not from the amount of money I have in the bank.
To be continued…
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace throwing money in the air. Courtesy Bitmoji.]
Continued from here.
I then thought about situations that I have chosen to make complicated. For example, I was in a Bible study years ago through my workplace, and nobody in the Bible study attended the same church. I was astounded to learn that they all tithe, and they were surprised to learn that I did not. Until that moment, I did not believe that anyone actually gives 10% of his or her income to their church. That seemed like a lot of money to me.
I complicated the issue in a manner worthy of a New Testament Pharisee (I do have a law degree, after all!). Am I expected to give 10% of my gross or net income? Doesn’t having to pay income taxes remove this responsibility since the tithe went toward the temple, which served a “governmental” role in some respects? Didn’t this rule “go away” in the New Testament? I’ll never forget the response that drove me to my knees and led me to obey God and tithe. One member of the Bible study, with a big grin on his face, looked me in the eye and said, “Grace, you are making this too complicated. It’s really simple. Everything you have belongs to God.”
The Bible is very clear: it says to tithe. I was not making this command complicated because it was unclear. I put a lot of energy into complicating a simple command because I did not want to obey it. I was looking for a way out of obeying God: to be able to receive the benefits of being a Christian without having to pay the cost – in this case, 10% of my income. If we are honest with ourselves, every time we put energy into complicating any command of God, what we are really doing to seeking a loophole so we can feel good about continuing to disobey God. We don’t get to have it both ways: God is not going to give us the benefits of being a Christian in the areas of our lives in which we are unwilling to submit to His authority.
Disciples of Jesus don’t have the option of complicating God’s commands to look for loopholes so we can get out of having to do what God tells us to do. Either you are obeying God, or you are not. If you are not obeying God, then you are not Jesus’ disciple. It really is that simple … again, not easy, but simple.
To be continued…
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace crying while thinking about her money flying away. Courtesy Bitmoji.]
Continued from here.
The practice of tithing was perhaps the fundamental practice that I resisted the most. The bottom line was that I did not want to do it. I had many reasons that I won’t elaborate on in this blog entry, but underneath all of those reasons was that I simply just did not want to.
I used to believe that nobody actually gives 10% of their paycheck to their church. I was shocked to learn in a Bible study that I was the odd man out. This was a Bible study through work, and none of us attended the same church. So, nobody in the study had a vested interested in getting me to tithe. Because none of them would receive any sort of tangible benefit from me tithing or suffer any sort of detriment from me not doing so, I was more open to hearing their perspectives. After hearing all of my objectives, one member said the following to me with a big grin on his face:
Grace, you’re making this too complicated. It really is simple: Everything you have belongs to God! You don’t own it – you are a steward. God has told you where to spend 10% of His money, and then you get to spend the other 90% on whatever you want.
I had never considered that perspective – that God owns everything and that He allows me to choose how to spend 90% of what he entrusts to me.
I decided to test God on His promise about financial blessing through obedience. Can you guess what happened? God was true to His word. God tested me on my obedience a few times, allowing the coffers to get low to see if I would continue to tithe. I did, and He always replenished the funds before I ran out. Years later, God revealed a powerful truth to me that I’ll need to write about another time. The short version was that God placed powerfully on my heart that He would have to cease to be God to break his promise in Malachi 3:10.
If you need further reassurance, check out my blog entry on sowing & reaping. Tithing is the mechanism God uses to provide for all of your physical needs (what to eat, drink, and wear). Start tithing, and you’ll never have to worry about God meeting those physical needs again!
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace smiling and throwing money in the air. Courtesy Bitmoji.]