“You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the LORD Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.” Haggai 1:9
When visiting the Lutheran schools and congregations in the nine Districts in Haiti I was frequently asked by the District Presidents to give a message on Sunday morning to their congregation on the topic of tithing; not a great way to make friends but a wonderful way to plant seeds and share in the joy of tithing and the realized blessings that always came following.
In my congregation there is a man who always seems to be angry at the world; angry at our country, angry at Christians and angry at God and the only time I have really seen him smile is when he stated that he had never given one dime to a congregation. He doesn’t understand that what he is withholding from God is preventing him from enjoying a fuller relationship with our Heavenly Father and more abundant blessings. The attached photo was taken at Bon Barger on a Sunday morning; this was my home congregation while living in Haiti. The average person in Haiti has an annual income of roughly $400 and I would try to sit in the rear of the Church on Sunday, not because that is how I was brought up as a Lutheran, but I was curious to see what their offering plate looked like when it reached the last pew.
These people who had literally nothing to live on placed a few coins into the plate and to them, it must have been like you or I placing $500 in our offering plate. Our Heavenly Father's sovereign ways can cause our endeavors to succeed beyond our wildest dreams or they can defeat our plans to our own dismay and leave us looking for somebody to blame. With a simple touch of His hand, God can steer our vessel into a profitable channel or He can allow it to run aground in poverty and bankruptcy. The Scriptures teach us that the Lord enriches the generous but leaves the miserly to discover that withholding their money only leads to poverty.
Over the years, the offering plate at Bon Barger got fuller and fuller and even had paper money becoming more prominent than coins; the congregation is being blessed. To the man that I spoke of earlier there is a verse in Matthew that says “Selfishness will always look first to its own home, but godliness will seek first God's kingdom and his righteousness." May your tithing be a joy and not a hindrance as you return a portion of your daily blessings to the One who gave it to you. William How wrote ‘We give Thee but Thine Own’ in 1854 and its words seemed like an appropriate way to close this devotion.
“We give Thee but Thine own, whate'er the gift may be; all that we have is Thine alone, a trust, O Lord, from Thee. May we Thy bounties thus as stewards true receive and gladly, as Thou blessest us, to Thee our first-fruits give! Oh, hearts are bruised and dead, and homes are bare and cold, and lambs for whom the Shepherd bled are straying from the fold. To comfort and to bless, to find a balm for woe, to tend the lone and fatherless, is angels' work below. The captive to release, to God the lost to bring, to teach the way of life and peace, it is a Christlike thing. And we believe Thy Word, though dim our faith may be: whate'er for Thine we do, O Lord, we do it unto Thee.”
Dear Heavenly Father, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen.
May God be with you…Jay