Tag Archives: tithing

Money Matters

To the bookkeeper, there was a 20-cent difference between the two. To the preacher, one gave something and the other gave nothing. To the teacher, it was a teachable moment for the students. To the rich man, it was loose change. To the widow, it was all she had.

            On one hand, we are talking about money, on the other hand, point of view.  You know the biblical stories. One is called the Widow’s Mite; the other the Rich Young Ruler. Both are examples to us about the priorities of a spiritual life. The widow’s story reveals the pride of the religious legalists counting out their offerings in front of the crowds, laughing at the poor, and congratulating themselves for being so good. Her story reveals her heart as one who sincerely gave as much as she had to God, in spite of the haughty onlookers and the meagerness of her offering.

            The rich man’s story reveals the dilemma of a morally good person confronted by the fear of financial insecurity, the priority of stuff over relationships, and the expensive cost of discipleship. About the widow Jesus says, “They gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything.” (Mark 12:44). About the rich young ruler, found in Mark 10, we see these powerful, descriptive words as Jesus clarifies the man’s choice, “Jesus looked at him and loved him.” (The only time this is said about Jesus as he speaks with anyone else in the Gospels!) In response to the man’s decision to turn away from sacrifice and commitment, Jesus says, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

            I struggle with these stories. Where do I fall on the scale between the widow and the rich man, the disciple and the Pharisee? I believe that tithing is the clearest starting point for the offerings to the Lord. It’s proportional. I believe that the tithe goes to the Lord’s work through the local church and that gifts and offerings to other good causes and ministries are over and above the tithe. What do you believe? What is your commitment? What is your point of view?

            Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Give the Lord your best.  And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Filed under Christian Life, Darryl DeBorde

Sixteen Tons

Sixteen tons and what do you get? Anyone born before 1955 can tell you the answer to that question. Tennessee Ernie Ford’s version of the song “Sixteen Tons” sold two million copies in less than two months! Americans identified with the tale of a coal miner so deep in debt that he could not afford to die.

You load sixteen tons, and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt. Saint Peter, don’t you call me, ’cause I can’t go; I owe my soul to the company store. . .

When I was in college I served a church that was built for the employees of a lumber mill. It was named for the mill owner who also had built all of the workers’ little houses. The company store sold all of the groceries, dry goods and liquor the people wanted. The costs were deducted from their paychecks, and so was their rent. They could also get paycheck loans and advances. Yet most of the church people tithed, so the church could have a fulltime pastor and part-time music/youth director. They gave to missions, bought Sunday School literature for everyone, mailed out a newsletter and had wonderful potluck dinners.

Sometimes we forget that the “good old days” were a whole lot like today, only with less stuff. The preachers railed against a growing materialism that was leading us down a path of greed, selfishness and heartache. When our gods, they said, are money, prosperity and things, our dreams will sadly miss the mark. “Fly now, pay later” revolutionized advertising and introduced credit cards. More than 50 years later, the dreams of millions of our neighbors seem to have fallen short. The company store has been replaced by predatory lenders, corporate greed and too easy credit. The Biblical vision of simplicity and generosity still holds, even in the toughest economic times.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Honor the Lord. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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