Friday, December 11, 2015
Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. 2 Corinthians 9:6-8(NLT)
Perhaps I owe the prudence of my character to the days of my youth, under the wing of parents who lived through the Great Depression era. Although I was raised in the post-WW2 boom era of the 1950’s, there was little extravagance in the home of my youth.
Mom kept a tight ship when it came to the household budget. She recorded every expenditure, and once went off-the-chart-frazzled over not being able to balance her expenses….there was a penny missing! She poured over those books for hours until she finally remembered she had neglected to record the penny she had spent to weigh herself on the scale outside the A&P.
I don’t recall exactly how old I was when Mom and Dad started giving me an allowance, but it coincided with having a little more freedom. In the late 1950’s having 45 cents in your pocket meant you could go to a Saturday morning movie and eat popcorn. (That activity today may require a mortgage broker).
It has occurred to me on more than one occasion that my allowance, handed-out on Saturday morning, after Friday’s payday, was just enough to get me to the movies (including popcorn). But there was always enough left over for a tithe to be dropped in the collection plate the following Sunday morning…IF I still had it!
The church we attended was only a minute’s walk away from the drugstore – land of candy bars and other assorted wonders. And Sunday School always let out 15 minutes before worship started – enough time to walk briskly to the store, spend every last cent I had burning a hole in my pocket on candy to load my pockets, and be back in time for the prelude.
But somewhere in the next 25 minutes they would pass the collection plate, and I can still recall the guilt over having full pockets of chocolate and bubble gum, but empty hands for the offering.
(I also recall wondering if God was going to smite me right there on the front pew for my selfishness).
I was a perfect 9 year-old picture of the “reluctant, pressure-driven giver”.
It’s not that Mom and Dad pressured me; they had simply and lovingly explained God’s way of worship which includes acknowledging God’s ownership of all we have, and how the offering plate helps us do that. The pressure within me was all self-inflicted guilt over spending every bit of what I received on me, and in the process ignoring God’s generosity, and losing the opportunity to share with others.
I’m a lot older and a little wiser now.
Although we have managed to be faithful to tithe over the years, sometimes (especially the difficult financially-challenging times) it has been an anguished giving, rather than cheerful sharing.
But, every now and then routine giving of 10% of whatever comes into the house gives way to giving way more than looks possible, simply because I can see the need of others, and remember the kindness God has shown us. And the wildest thing is how cheerful that kind of giving can make me.
If you keep your eyes open today, you’re just liable to bump into a need God has placed in your pathway. You may not think you have the resources to do it….but think of the cheerful joy on the other side of God proving you wrong!
Chew on that out on the Rocky Road today…and have a great day!