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That’s when I got an impression, word, thought – call it what you will. Unsettling, since I am a Presbyterian. “John, double the amount you would normally give.” What? Where did that thought come from? It was so crazy – I knew it wasn’t from me. So I did it. Pastor and theologian, Martyn Lloyd-Jones , actually says a mark of maturity is to give-in to spiritual impulses – but this was a stretch! Writing that check got me thinking. I was not going to let fear rule my life. No matter what the conditions or situations, God’s kingdom still had to go forward. Whatever had to change in my life this much was true.
That’s when I also had to take stock of our family priorities. You see, one long weekend a year, our family usually comes together (5 of us) to go on a long weekend to Williamsburg, VA every October. It’s one of the few special things we do together, now that one son is out of the house and the twins are in college. It’s not a whole heck of a lot of money, but I knew I couldn’t do that, given what I just talked about above, to follow God’s promptings and still obey and fulfill my commitment to my church and those doing God’s work in other fields.
I gave my family the bad news. We would not be going to Williamsburg as a family this year. I went a little further. We would not be having the kind of Christmas we were used to in previous years. (Why not get the all the bad news out at the same time?) There was initial disappointment. However, as I explained why it wouldn’t be possible this year, everyone seemed to understand. The maturity of my children’s responses surprised even me.
The Call to Move the Kingdom forward – No Matter What
That was when I realized it. No matter what the state of the economy, my pocketbook still belongs to Jesus. Now, I know, when someone loses their job or has a cut-back in work, something has to give and we often have to think about cutting back. But that started me thinking. Perhaps this tough economic time will be something God uses to refine his people. You see, no matter what happens, we’re all still called to move the kingdom forward – through our giving, keeping the local church a top priority. I don’t see that mandate of our tithe and our offerings, changing.
The Mandate Doesn’t Change – So Should We?
In thinking about these tough times, I began to think through what God might be doing. Is it possible that God is using this time to refine his kingdom vision in all his people? Might he be teaching us what giving is all about, especially in light of our consumer-crazy culture?
I was commenting to my wife, Penny, that there just seems to be so much more today to spend money on, even for young people. Cell phones, iPhones, iPods, video games, laptops – the list goes on-and-on. Then, there’s the upgrades and new programs added to all that. The ways to spend our money seems endless. Hey, I remember a simpler time when, as a teen, we thought we were hot stuff if we had a transistor radio and a ‘swinger’ Polaroid camera! Remember those? (Yes, I just gave away my age.) Then I wondered. Have God’s people slipped into the place of looking just like everyone else? Have we fallen into the trap of believing we never have enough, but maybe we will if we only get a little more?