Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Leaving Earthly Thinking Behind

As I grow as a Christian I am discovering that there are a great many things I need to unlearn. I spent the first fifty some odd years of my life developing habits and attitudes that were not of God. The two ways of thinking collide with a tremendous force. A Christian walk is a way of life one must decide on, be determined to stick to, study and follow with a no turning back attitudeOne of the things I hear people complaining about the most is tithing. It is questioned and criticized by many, but if one is really reading the word they realize that it is a blessing to both the donor and the recipient. 

The Old Testament requires that man gives the first 10 percent of anything that brings benefits to his home or dwelling. If a person did not want to give what he produced he could give 120 percent of its value  ( Lev 27:31 ). 
For livestock, however, there could be no substitute. Animals passed single file under a rod dipped in coloring and every tenth one was marked. Selecting inferior animals was prohibited by law. That part made me giggle, people have been trying to be sneaky and underhanded and find excuses to be an exception to the rule forever! I guess it is one of the human traits that provides lawyers with bigger houses, right?

The New Testament says nothing about tithing ten percent, but it does reiterate many things associated with tithing: those who minister are entitled to receive support ( 1 Cor 9:14 ); the poor and needy should be cared for  ( 1 Cor 16:1; Gal 2:10 ); those who give can trust God, as the source of all that is given   ( 2 Cor 9:10 ), to supply their needs ( 2 Cor 9:8;    Phip 4:19 ); and giving should be done joyously ( 2 Cor 9:7
The New Testament directs that taxes be paid to the state        ( Rom 13:6-7 ), which replaced Israel's theocracy.           Paul's vocabulary and teaching suggest that giving is voluntary and that there is no set percentage. Following the example of Christ, who gave even his life ( 2 Cor 8:9 ), we should cheerfully give as much as we have decided ( 2 Cor 9:7 ) based on how much the Lord has prospered us ( 1 Cor 16:2 ), knowing that we reap in proportion to what we sow ( 2 Cor 9:6 ) and that we will ultimately give account for our deeds ( Rom 14:12 ). 

I enjoy giving things to people. Cash given is always a gift, not a loan and the money I give to someone or the money I spent in the past is just that, it's in the past. Hopefully, it left someone with a big smile on their face and the desire to pay it forward.  The Pay it Forward concept is awesome and should be participated in with joy! 2 Corinthians 9:7 - Every man according as he purposes in his heart, shall give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

Giving just feels good, pay it back, pay it forward, pay for the person's coffee or burgers behind you and then drive away fast and don't look back! It's a blast! I have done this and it has been done for me as well. It blesses us with a tremendous feeling in either situation! 
My daughter called me the other day just laughing her head off because she had paid nearly twenty dollars for the person behind hers coffee order and only spent three dollars on herself. 
Now that is a cheerful giver!

A verse my pastor uses frequently is the following...
 Luke 6:38 (ESV)38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”  
As important as it is to be a cheerful giver, we must also remember that having the ability to receive or accept gifts with grace is just as important. You never know where that desire to give to you came from. For example, I recently had an acquaintance call me out of the blue. After a bit of small talk, she came right out and said to me, "God told me to give you some money." I had heard of this happening to others, but I had never experienced it myself. As it turned out, her gift of money was precisely what I needed a few days later to cover an unexpected emergency expense.

 Having faith and believing will never be the wrong thing to do. Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and never, l mean never, ever lean on your own understanding and keep that covenant with God next to your heart, for it is between you and Him only.  

James 3:17  (ESV)17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

Further, how do we accept a gift from someone? We reach out and take it because we trust (that’s faith) them to give (that’s grace) it to us. What do we do then? We thank them simply because we are grateful, and then as the possessor of the gift, we use it (that’s works). When the Holy Spirit convicts us that we need to be born again through Jesus Christ, God is offering us His gift. We reach out and take it because we trust (that’s faith) Him to give (that’s grace) it to us. We thank Him simply because we are grateful, and then as the possessor of the gift, we use it (that’s works).**

All of this and life experience has taught me that God wants us to be cheerful givers as well as people who receive with Grace. I used to be that person who thought I wouldn't make it through the pay period if I wrote a check for ten percent each time I got paid, but after I started doing it I discovered that I made it just fine. 
Life has taught me to place less value on money and stuff and more value on human kindness and people who are true friends of God and honor His laws.

James 1:12 ESV

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

All scripture references come from