Friday, October 21, 2011

Life After Training Wheels

Today we were discussing the upcoming stewardship "drive". The talk revolved around what Scriptures teach concerning that dreaded word, "the tithe" and our experiences with tithing. People who know us well remember that one of the first question we asked each other when we got engaged was whether the other tithed and for how long. It never occurred to us during the lean years (and there were quite a few) to "scale back our giving." We just ramped up our stewardship. Interestingly, those years taught us that we were hanging onto a lot of things we didn't need. It also taught us a lot of lessons about managing money we'd never dreamed of before.

Someone mentioned the verse that says, "Where your heart is, there your treasure will be also." It reminded me of a neighbor we once had. He was a computer guru on the night shift for some Fortune 500 company on the other side of town from our little bedroom community. One night while he was at work, his house caught fire. His wife grabbed the three boys and ran to a neighbor's home to call the fire department and her husband. When she reached her husband, "Our house is burning to the ground! Please come home!"

He asked, "Are you and the boys ok?" She assured him they were and he, in turn, assured her he was on his way.

He arrived almost an hour later as the whole neighborhood watched the last of their earthly goods smolder. After he had hugged his family and reassured them, he stood quietly hugging his boys and watched. I told him how sorry we were for his loss. He nodded mutely. I said something inane about how quickly he must have driven the distance from his work. His countenance glowed as he turned and said, "Oh, there was no need to endanger anyone. My wife had already told me all my treasures were safe." Then, he quoted the Scripture.

Within an hour, the neighborhood had put together two sets of clothes and two toys for each child plus one set of clothes for the parents. They had a place to stay and were grateful that the wife had not yet driven her car into the garage for the night. We shared together, his wife and he and David and, our common trust in the Lord to provide all our needs and got to meet a brother and sister in Christ we hadn't known before as they assured us of their confidence in the Lord Jesus to provide all our needs. He reminded us of Malachi 3:10.

After I had shared this story, the discussion then led to the fact that none of us had ever met a "reformed tither," that is someone who had once tried tithing for several months but then had quite. I compared that to putting training wheels back on a bicycle after you had mastered the art of balancing on just two wheels. The talk then shifted to people who start out "giving" two per cent with the intention of getting to a full tithe but don't quite make it there. One person likened that stage of giving to riding with training wheels....the longer you depend on them, the longer it will be before you remove them.

We talked about the Apostle Peter and how he stepped out of the boat to walk on water. He did just fine until he started to consider the circumstances his natural eyes beheld. As soon as he took his eyes off Jesus, he started to sink. The same is true of tithing. So long as we wait until our natural eyes can "see our way clear" to giving the whole tithe; the longer it will be before we give in faith. Peter gets bad rap for starting to sink, but remember the other eleven never even tried! They stayed in the boat and missed a blessing.

When I think of tithing, strangely enough I think of the Psalm which says,"Seek ye first the Lord and He will give you all the desires of your heart." What it doesn't specifically say is if we live for the Lord "without training wheels", the desires of our heart will so totally change that He will not have to violate His Holiness to give those desires to us.

Life without training wheels is sweet. Praise the Lord.

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