In the summer of 2014, I had the opportunity to travel to Israel and Palestine for a seminary class. It was simply amazing to see the Temple walls, the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River, and so many other places.
One day we were near Jerusalem and Bethlehem (they’re only about six miles apart), and it was a dry, rocky, desert-like area. The stones were blindingly white. Pastor Zelt, who preached for my ordination service, told a story about how when he was in that same spot a few years earlier, a shepherd emerged from the hills, leading a flock of sheep and he’d stop every once in a while at random places. Pastor Zelt came to see that he was leading them to small patches of crab grass poking up between the rocks. The shepherd was leading them to the sparse green pastures in this wilderness of rocks.
This Sunday we begin a new Bible study on the book of Psalms. We are starting with the most well-known Psalm, number 23. It’s a Psalm about God’s provision and guidance.
This Sunday is also Pledge Sunday, or Stewardship Sunday. We’ll be taking some time to consider the gifts God has given us and commit to using those gifts for the extension of God’s kingdom.
This Sunday may be challenging for you. You may feel some guilt about your giving practices of the past. You may feel like you haven’t contributed as you would like. Or you may feel some indignation toward others who “aren’t giving their fair share.”
I’d like to offer some words of encouragement and a challenge to both groups. If you haven’t been giving regularly and feel like there is no way you could give a tithe (10% of your income), I understand. I’ve been there. I’d encourage you to start small. Commit to giving 1% of your income in 2019, try for 2% in 2020, increasing the percentage until you can begin tithing. If you don’t like math, start with $10 a week or $50 a month. Establish the habit and discipline of giving, no matter the dollar amount. Your salvation is not in question here. We are simply seeking to follow Jesus and be wise stewards of His gifts.
If you have been a regular tither for your entire life and are frustrated with others, remember that we are the body of Christ which means we bear one-another’s burdens. If our brothers and sisters in Christ cannot give as much as they wish, we help the church bear their struggle by giving more. Some of us have been blessed to bask in God’s green pastures with few financial worries. Others are moving from patch of grass to patch of grass or from paycheck to paycheck. God is providing for us all. If you have been tithing regularly, consider giving 11% or 12.5% in 2019, bearing the burden of your brothers and sisters in Christ who cannot tithe right now. If God has richly blessed you in some way financially, consider giving a one-time gift along with your tithe. Your salvation won’t be made more secure by giving more money, but you will be helping your neighbors who are in need.
If you don’t know how much you can give, go to the Lord in prayer. Seek His wisdom. If you’d like to have a conversation with me about this, my door is open, my phone is working, and I can answer emails.
No matter how much you are able to give, please pray for the future and ministry of First Lutheran Church and Preschool. There is so much we can do to share the love of Christ in our area. Pray that God would bless our giving and open up a door for us to share His Gospel with others.
God’s blessings on your week.