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It was the time of the worship service when the offering plates were passed from row to row.  Back and forth they went.  And then they came to our row. I watched as my mom threw a wad of bills in and passed the plates on to the next person.  I sat in utter disbelief.  Here was our family, all five kids, who needed new shoes.  We did not have much…and there was Mom tossing around a wad of bills like we were millionaires!

Now, to be fair, I was young.  For all I knew, the wad of bills could have been a just few singles all bunched together.  But the sight of that wad of cash going into offering plate infuriated me when we had needs as a family!  So I decided to question my mom about it.  “Why did you put money into the plate when we need new shoes?!?!” I asked, somewhat incredulously.  Here response has shaped much of my thinking about what it means to give to the Lord.

“John, God has never stopped caring for us…and we will not stop being faithful with what He has given us.”

Faithful.  Full of faith.  Interesting idea.  My mom, in that instant, taught me that giving money was not giving it to support a program we liked or about supporting a new pastor or his ideas (or…not supporting him).  No, an offering in worship is about being faithful.  It is about recognizing that you can’t out give God.

Since that time, as I have studied the Bible and its teachings, I have come to realize the incredible truth of my mom’s words.  I have also come to realize that God’s plan for our lives…and our finances is simply better.  Setting aside the first 10% of what God has given us to manage on His behalf is not about restrictions.  No, it is about aligning our life’s priorities in such a way that we trust Him and rest in His provision alone.  We do not give (or withhold) as a political statement about the congregation.  We do not give as a sign of support for something we like…or withhold our giving to show frustration with something we don’t like.  Giving the first 10% of our income is about trust.  We give to the Lord.  It is about recognizing that God is good…and His ways are better!

In Proverbs 30, the writer says this:

Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die:

8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me,

9 lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.

The writer of this proverb wants falsehood removed from him.  He want to be honest and true.  And…he wants God to balance his income.  Did you catch that?  He does not want poverty (lest he steal and profane the name of God) nor does he want riches (which might cause him to think he does not need God).  The balance.  Just enough. 

I think that is what my mom was trying to help me understand so many years ago…

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