I was reminded this morning of something I have heard talked about many times in life, but it made me stop and ponder it a lil bit more today. You see we just came out of a “money” series at our Church this past month. (It was called $PENT and was about whole financial life, not simply a “ploy” to guilt people into giving more money – check out the series online HERE). Anyway a lot of the discussion invariably turns to a discussion about “tithing” and giving that first 10 percent back to God’s work. (now I know recently there was a MUCH DISCUSSED debate, on a friend’s blog, about this whole subject and I do not desire to see that all happen again – I am simply sharing some quick thoughts)
I do believe that God has set a precedent for our giving and I often believe we so often focus on what the “required” amount is instead of the heart of the matter of being so thankful to God that we continually seek new ways to give EVEN MORE – to GROW in our habit of giving each and every year. It is funny to me that we will debate till the day we die about whether or not we need to give 10% but so often never even discuss the idea of “growing in our giving”.
I was very fortunate to witness from an early age 2 people that have set an INTENSE example of giving. I had heard the stories of a couple that agreed upon getting married that they would set apart 15% of their income to give back to God, but not just stop there. It was their desire and goal that each year of their marriage they would increase by 1% for as long as they felt like they could do so. It was not till my college years that I found out that those 2 people were my own parents.
You see the beauty of this is that they always showed the example of giving and taught the lessons and value of trusting God with our tithes and offerings to my sister and I – yet at the same time never “touted their own giving as the standard”. This subject and area of giving is so seemingly difficult to share examples from your own life because we often don’t want to go in conflict with what God’s Word says in Matthew 6:3 – “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,”. So often times we sit by quietly not sharing and challenging people to grow in their giving. I will say I learned some extremely valuable lessons on giving from my parents, but to this day STILL HAVE NO IDEA what actual amount or percentage they give, which to me is pretty cool.
So what about this idea of “growing in our giving”? Would it not seem awkward if someone who learned the prayer “God is great God is good, let us thank Him for our food, by His hands we must be fed, Thank You God for daily bread – Amen!” to still be using that same prayer when they are 40 years old leading the family prayer at Thanksgiving. Or how about someone who simply memorized at a young age “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” – to not be digging deeper into scripture as they got into their 30’s???? Yet those who may have already grabbed hold of the challenge of tithing (giving 10%) when they are younger are still doing the same some 30 years later in their life – this befuddles me (yeah I said befuddles – it is a cool word!)
Does that mean that we have not grown in our level of TRUST in God for providing for us, or have not grown in our desire to see more done in His Kingdom through our giving, than where we were that 30 years ago when we were already giving our 10% – I really struggle with this and cannot understand or accept that we think this is okay.
But back to my being reminded of this in a story this morning. I was reading in a book and it referenced the story of Jesus and the 10 men with leprosy, found in Luke 17:11-19. In this story Jesus comes upon 10 men with this dreaded disease, and they are outcasts, they cry out to Jesus for mercy and healing. He tells them to go show themselves to the Priest (the custom to determine one was now clean and could return to normal living and go back to friends and family). While on their way they realize they have been cleansed and out of the 10 only 1 of them returns to show Jesus how grateful he was. He runs back and falls at Jesus feet to thank Him. Then Jesus asks if there were not actually 10 that were healed, then what happened to the other 9. I can sort of hear the disappointment in Jesus’ voice – I know He was please to see this 1 man return and I am sure Jesus felt great about the change that had occurred in this man’s life, but probably felt the hurt and sting of the lack of appreciation from the other 9.
When we read this we think to ourselves – that is SO STUPID, for these other 9 to not go back to thank Jesus – I mean how LAME could these guys be? How easy to have turned back to go and give Him the thanks He so RIGHTLY deserves – HE GAVE THEM THEIR LIVES BACK – THEIR HEALTH BACK – THEIR FRIENDS, FAMILY, COMMUNITY BACK – what could they have been thinking!
Well folks – YOU DO THE MATH – 10% of the men DID return to Jesus, yet for us, in all of our JUDGMENTALISM that is STILL NOT ENOUGH???? Why does this set off a tinge of anger and injustice in our minds? Yet so often we are COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY OKAY with NOT EVEN being able to give back at least 10% of our own time, treasure, and talents – HEAVEN FORBID we even give more!
How funny (in a sad way) the irony of when the shoe is on the other foot – how easy to see the fault in those other men, when we so often have a disease far worse than that of physical leprosy eating away at us – the disease of a lack of Trust in our God to provide for us when we faithfully give back to Him.
Hmmmm just some things I am thinking about today – got any thoughts??