Thoughts from the Back Pew
The earth is the LORD’s and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it (Psalm 24:1).
Everything I have belongs to God. Am I a good steward of the blessings God has given me? What does God desire I do with those gifts? We must be honest with God about our response to these questions. First, we need to consider the assets God has given us, and then, we need to decide how we use the time God has given us.
Most churches refer to giving as “tithes and offerings,” referring back to the Old Testament requirements. Churches traditionally challenge people to give 10%, with an occasional “above and beyond” gift for a specific need. However, the Israelites not only were required to give a 10% tithe but also were required to give mandatory offerings (sin offering and guilt offering) and encouraged to give voluntary offerings (burnt offering, grain offering, peace offering, etc.). The result? Their giving far exceeded 10%.
In the dispensation of grace today, no quantifiable amount is required. How much should we give back to God? Should a person who has little still give 10% of what they have? Should a person making a million dollars a year only give 10%?
The Bible provides direction, but one example captures the answer to the question “How much?” Jesus answered when He described the poor widow who gave “all she owned, all she had to live on” (Mark 12:12-41). The lesson is whether we give sacrificially. Do we sacrifice to God an amount we planned to spend on something else? I have fallen far short of this example. Every year, I develop a financial budget that includes the amount of our giving, but that does not include sacrificial giving. Sacrifices come at unexpected times if at all.
Is our stewardship to be through our local church and Christian ministries only? Consider the “Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:30-37). Two observations—first, the Samaritan does not give money to the Temple and have the priest deal with the person’s need, he gets personally involved. The second is the Samaritan’s name is not given. He meets the need anonymously. God knows what we do or do not do in His name. Is this enough recognition for us?
A last thought—are we good stewards of the time God has given us? If Jesus were to physically show up and tell you or me to drop everything and follow Him, would we obey? But what about the urging of the Holy Spirit—is our answer the same? How much time do we spend with God in His word, in prayer, and in reaching a lost world for Christ? What is our response to God putting people in our path who need to hear the gospel? People who need words of encouragement? People who need a helping hand? Do we look for those opportunities?
One Sunday, David Livingstone was sitting in a church service when he was a teenager. As an illustration, the preacher placed an offering plate on the floor and invited all who were willing to surrender themselves fully to God to come forward and stand on it. David Livingstone surrendered his life to God in that service. Standing on the plate, he committed to God to do whatever God wanted him to do. He later became one of the early pioneer missionaries to Africa.
God has given each of us abilities, aptitudes, and spiritual gifts to serve Him. God has placed us here and given us opportunities to serve others in His name. The only question—are we willing? We should all pray deeply about our responses. How much of ourselves are you and I willing to put in the offering plate?
Some challenging thoughts from the back pew.
Roy Haggerty is a lover of God, a husband, and a father. He graduated from the University of Miami, FL, in 1972. He has taught Bible studies for over twenty-five years. Roy retired in his mid-sixties and has spent his time immersed in Bible study and a study of modern politics. He has taken courses towards a masters of theology through Reformed Theological Seminary.
Deb Haggerty is a lover of God, a wife, and a mother. Born in Benson, Minnesota, she graduated from Macalester College, St. Paul, MN, in 1969 with a BA in English Literature and a minor in music and religion. In 1982, she received an MBA from Mercer University in Atlanta, GA. She now serves as Publisher & Editor in Chief of Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.