This week’s podcast guest is Celeste. Celeste and her good friend Priscilla visited our church some years ago. They came from Argentina as missionaries. They blessed us immensely. However, I felt guilty throughout their visit because I didn’t have much time to spend with them. I didn’t get to see them very much at all. I didn’t have them over for a meal or anything like that. In fact, though my daughter spent a bit of time with them, I felt like their whole trip passed in a blur and I pretty much missed it.
At the end of their trip the church threw them a farewell party. Somehow I managed to make the time to attend that. And for some reason I felt it was right to give them a gift. Just a small gift of money. I wrote a card, put the dollars in, and gave it to them at the party.
They were a bit taken aback. They told me that they were on their way home now, the trip was over, and they didn’t need the money.
I’m used to getting that reaction, people are not used to being given gifts and they often don’t know how to react or don’t want to take the gift. But the thing is, we put money aside to give to people. This is money we will never use on ourselves. Sometimes we give it to the church, sometimes to visiting missionaries, sometimes to a charity organisation. We give away about 10% of our income.
This doesn’t make us special. Tithing, or giving 10%, is a Jewish law, and Jews and Christians through the ages have given their tithe, and often given offerings on top of that. I’ve heard of people who give 90% and live off 10% of their income.
In fact, if you’re having money problems and you come to me for advice, the first thing I suggest you do is tithe. It’s counter-intuitive. But it’s one of those laws of the universe. Your money management will go more smoothly if you put aside 10% to give away.
God doesn’t ask us to test him much. Almost never. But he asks us to test him when it comes to tithing. In Malachi 3:10 he says, ‘Test me in this, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.’
A quick aside, I am not talking prosperity gospel here. I am not saying give money and you’ll get rich. I am saying that if you give your 10% as a sign that you trust God to provide, then he will provide for your needs. And he’ll bless you in other ways as well. And this story that I am telling you (yes, I’ll get back to it) is one of the ways that God has blessed me through my giving.
Had I failed?
When I got home from the party I felt a bit strange. Why had I only given this money at the end of the trip? Was this just another failure in being part of the church response to these beautiful two girls? Should I have given the money much earlier? I felt bad, but what was done was done. I got on with life. I forgot about it.
I forgot about it until Celeste reminded me in this week’s podcast. She tells us the end of the story. And I’ll share it here too.
Just before Priscilla and Celeste flew out of Hobart, they found out that the flight from Sydney to Argentina had been cancelled. They had to spend a night in Sydney and then catch the next flight out. And the money that I gave them covered the cost the hotel room for the night.
It had been right to give them that money at the end of their trip. It was a necessary gift to cover an expense that they hadn’t seen coming.
When I heard Celeste tell me this I had truly forgotten that I had even given the money. And when I heard that it was me that God had used to provide for their needs I was truly blown away. I had done the right thing. I had heard God correctly and done what he asked. He used me to provide for these girls. What a blessing! To them, for sure, but also a huge blessing to me!
There is joy in receiving a gift, and there is also so much joy in giving.
Let me challenge you. Test God. Give 10% of your income. Find out just what an amazing blessing it is to give.
Do you have a joyous giving story? Or a story where someone has met your needs at just the right time? Please share with us in the comments! Let’s encourage one another.
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