October 28, 2013
Mark 10:29, 30
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
I preached a sermon one Sunday some years ago on tithing – giving to God and His work 10% of your income. I shared how scripture encourages believers to tithe – one of the major scriptures being Leviticus 27:32, which says, “And concerning the tithe of the herd or of the flock, or whatever passes under the rod [for the purpose of counting], the tenth one shall be holy to the LORD.” I also told my congregation how my wife and I had tithed since we were first married, and God had never let us down as far as providing for our needs. After the sermon, one couple said they were convicted about this principle of tithing and gave their last $5 they had with them as a start. Later Bob told me, “Before we left the church, someone walked up to us and gave us $50!” They have been tithers ever since!
About this matter of which we have been considering in these last three blogs – Trusting God: our wallets and purses are good indicators of how much trust for our material needs we place in our heavenly Father. My mother was an example of not quite trusting the Lord in this matter. I had the privilege of leading her to accept Jesus Christ as her Savior when she was in her 60’s. Being in poor health, she was not able to regularly attend church and grow in her Christian faith by listening to good teaching. My wife and I could not help much in that area since we lived over a hundred miles away. One day, when we were visiting, my mother announced that she was going to begin to tithe her Social Security income of about $200 a month. “I’ll give $2!” she proudly said. I should have complimented her on a good start, but instead I remarked, “Mom, that’s not a tithe! That’s only 1%! You need to give $20!” “Oh, I can’t afford to do that!” she answered. And so she gave nothing!
“I can’t afford to tithe!” is too often the reaction to that challenge. But listen carefully to what Jesus told His disciples in Mark 10:29 and 30:
Assuredly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters
or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s,
who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time – houses and brothers
and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions – and in the
age to come eternal life.
Jesus is saying here, that if you give up anything for Him and His kingdom, then the payback will be 100 times the amount sacrificed! He was also a realist, by the way, and knew persecutions would come to His loyal followers. But in promising a hundredfold return, I also know the Lord will not give us so much that it will destroy us! It is like a parent out shopping with his or her child, two hours before dinner. Suddenly, the child runs up holding a whole bag of miniature Milky Way bars. “Can I have these? I’m hungry!” What would the wise parent do? Perhaps mom or dad would say, “You can have a candy bar after we eat, but not now.” Why? All that candy would not be good for the child before dinner – or generally!
God knows our needs, and according to Philippians 4:19, “…my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Not all your wants but all your need! And there certainly is a difference! There are examples out there – and you have probably heard of one or two – where someone wins the lottery for millions of dollars – and all those riches destroy them! God will only give His children in this life what they can handle – what they need to live on and bless others. And like any good parent, He will often give us, as a treat, what we want – but nothing that would destroy us!
What about the hundredfold? Jesus promised “…a hundredfold now in this time – houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands….” I call it “The Bank of Heaven”! We will never lose out in giving to the Lord. If He promised a hundredfold return, a hundredfold return is what He will give us! But some of what God will give us will be delayed until we get to heaven. You see, then we will not be subject to any flaw in our makeup that will allow such riches to destroy us! And we will enjoy forever the riches God has given us for our faithfulness upon earth!
Trusting God: Can you trust Him enough to give Him a tithe of all your earnings? I have – and so have many others, including Bob! – and God has never let us down!