a way of seeing,
a way of thinking,
a way of living.
Again today Lord, we surrender ourselves to you. Shape us gently, as you always do, to have your generous mind and heart. Show us your way for us O Lord.
“You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers.... The Lord’s message rang out...—your faith in God has become known everywhere.” 1 Thessalonians 1:6-8
“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also...teach others.” 1 Timothy 2:2
One day I found my dad in the garage at his workbench.
"What are you doing?" I asked.
His answer forever changed the way I thought about giving.
I'm not sure if i remember this perfectly, but the impact has stayed with me.
I grew up solidly middle-class. Two working parents; homeowners, mom a teacher and dad a Manufacturing Plant Manager. We had annual vacations and birthday parties. We went out to eat on the weekends. We were not poor.
Both were always serving in our church with the kids/youth (so they could be around us more and know our friends). Dad helped in church leadership and administration. After my brother and I were out of the house, my dad mentored and "discipled" other men. He has the spiritual gift of helps. When mom retired from teaching she became a women's ministry director.
Growing up I assumed that all Christians practiced "tithing," setting aside 10% of their income as a gift to the Lord's kingdom. I learned later that historically, this "tithe" was actually a Jewish tax in a theocratic government. A new testament view of giving was not bound by a percentage.
I knew my parents "tithed" to their church. They also supported a few individual missionaries and ministries that share our "good news" Gospel. Then one day I found my dad in the garage at his workbench. I must have been around 7th or 8th grade.
"What are you doing?" I asked as I walked up to see him with one of his shoes in his hand, and a piece of an old belt in the other.
"I'm fixing a hole in my shoe."
"Dad. You can't afford new shoes?"
"I can, I'd just rather spend my money in other ways."
I knew what he meant without asking. I watched him working with the glue and the shoe for a moment, and then asked, "Do you ever find it hard to give 10% away?"
"Ten percent is easy." He said and I watched forming my next question, daring myself to ask.
"How much to you actually give dad?"
"This year we're aiming for one-third." He said. "But I dont' think we'll make it. We're not legalistic about it."
"There's just so much work to be done." he answered. "Can you think of a better way to spend money?"
We never talked about it again. I'm guessing it wasn't always that much. Especially when he switched to Real Estate and the market went south (Helping them out with "their affairs," I now know their "net worth"). It's not nearly as much as their value to others. They are surrounded by Christians who love them. Meals come to the house every week, and more than that I'm sure. They have been faithful and God has always provided for them. He always will.
GOT TIME FOR A COMMENT?
Who was a mentor for you in your practice of giving? What did they teach you or show you?