Generosity is a hallmark of God’s people for the benefit of both the poor and also those in ministry. How’s your heart of generosity doing these days? It seems like everyone has their hand out, doesn’t it? Today we are challenged to reconsider our giving spirits…
Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and olive oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always. But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the Lord your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the Lord will choose to put his Name is so far away), then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the Lord your God will choose. Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice.
And do not neglect the Levites living in your towns, for they have no allotment or inheritance of their own. At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.
Part of the command of the tithe for Israel was the care for the priests and the poor. We are blessed, the scripture says, when we provide for ministers, foreigners, the fatherless, and the widows among us.
Now, we are not obligated to the tithe (which was one tenth of the Israelite’s crops etc). We are obliged now, according to the teaching of Jesus, to be generous with the needy because when we are we minister to Christ himself (Matthew 25:34-36). Furthermore, the apostle Paul counsels us to give what we decide in our hearts with the recognition that God loves a cheerful giver and is able to bless us abundantly for every good work (2Corinthians 9:6-8).
And so we see that generosity is a hallmark of God’s people, for the benefit of both those in ministry around us and also for the poor. How’s your heart of generosity doing these days? It seems like everyone has their hand out, doesn’t it? The pleas for support and donations to help local charities, foreign aid, and special interest groups keep coming and coming.
Don’t become weary of doing good (Galatians 6:9).
As God blesses, we are to bless. We are to share. We are to provide for people in the spirit of providing for our Lord Jesus. We are to see Jesus’ face in the poor and needy. We are to see his face in our ministry workers. Which brings me back to the church budget. There’s a landline…
If our church budget is behind and our ministry workers are in jeopardy, do we delay payroll or cut hours? These are not simple answers, are they? We layer our business expectations on the church to manage the budget better and be good stewards. We evaluate ministries and consider trimming programs. I wonder how often we dig deeper, though, with a heart focused on these convictions to honour our ministry workers as the Levites were cared for by the Israelites.
Oh, God, please impress on me how I can serve you through my generosity toward others, and particularly the poor and those serving me in ministry…