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Thursday, October 11, 2007

16Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11:16 NIV

I love my kids. I love to hang out with them, love to talk with them. I love watching them play ball and dance around the room in their sillier moments. I love to hear them laugh. And I try real hard, even in those moments when I am being the big mean daddy, to let them know that I am very proud of them. It's important to them and it's important to me that they know that. Typically, those words are accompanied by a hug or a kiss on the forehead (don't tell Harrison I told you that). You can see what an impact it has--the way their faces light up with the words that I believe in them.

Can you hear the Father's voice in the words above? He is saying, "I'm not ashamed to be yours. I long to have this. I desire to be associated with those who are longing for the right things."

That got me thinking about the opposing perspective on this verse. If God is not ashamed of some, does that mean He is ashamed of others? Of course. I think that's pretty obvious. There are some people who God gets frustrated with and would rather not have any association with. Who are they? Look at the verse again. It says God is not ashamed of those who are longing for heaven.

The ones who bring shame? Those of us who get caught up longing for the things of this world. I know what you're thinking. What Christian in their right mind longs for this world? The answer...a great many of them. Want proof? Pull out the check book or credit card receipt of your nearest Bible toting, Sunday-go-to-meeting believer and find out where they spend their money. Cars, house, clothes, vacations, technology, hobbies, etc.--all of them are good things. But none of them matter. God says we can enjoy these things as long as they are in the right order on your list of priorities. Ready for the list as He sees it...God first, everything else in the world a distant "it don't matter."

Here's the basic principle as it's applied. You get a check, the first 10% goes to him. That's it. Plain and simple. Anything else is robbery. It's pointing a gun at God and saying "You owe me." How dare we? No wonder He is ashamed.

Now, as a pastor, I get asked a lot of questions like, "Do we tithe on the gross or net?" That's like going up to your wife and saying, "Hey, honey, what's the least amount I can spend for your birthday without having to sleep on the couch tonight?" We're not asking what do we get to give; we're asking what do we have to give. We're not saying how can I grow God's kingdom, spread His glory and bless others. It's all about me, me and, oh yeah, me. God says, "Give me the first fruits and watch how you will be blessed." I say I dare you to give it a try.

I don't care what kind of debt you have or what kind of bills you pay or how little you think your income is or how little you've put away for retirement. You can't out give God. And, you can't take it with you when you're gone. So, the smart investment is to put as much as you can in a Kingdom that never fades, knowing that the blessing will be yours for eternity...not just until the next bills are due. Then, when it's all said and done and you're standing in front of God, you can hear Him say, "I wasn't ashamed of this one. She had her sights set on the right kingdom...a Heavenly one."

3 comments:

Dana a/k/a Sunshine said...

Ridley:

I have to say something here...again, I think you are right on with what you are saying. I am quite ashamed to say that for sure, I have had (and still do sometimes) that attitude that questions exactly how much do I have to tithe? You know, the asking about tithing on the net or the gross. And that, as you stated, reflects the inward attitude of now much CAN I give but how much do I HAVE to give. Viewing it as an obligation rather than a privilege.

I was raised in a Christian home, by Godly parents who tithed. For many many years, however, I chose not tithe. I'm a single parent now and frankly, I really thoughT "how can I find the extra money to tithe at least 10%?" Oh sure, I found the extra money I wanted - when I wanted to buy clothing or to go to a movie or out to eat, but at the end of the paycheck, there wasn't any money "left" for God.

So, probably about a year ago, a little less, I decided I was going to finally step out in faith and trust God. He says he will provide for me if I obey his commandments. Give to him first. After all, it is all his anyway and like you said, you can't take it with you.

So, I started tithing, even when I thought there was no way I could "afford" to do so. And ya know what? God has blessed that. Oh, he hasn't made me wealthy beyond belief or anything - ha ha -but he has PROVIDED for my needs and I am no worse off financially now (tithing) than I was before I was tithing. In reality, I'm much better because I know I am obeying God's commandment and he is blessing that obedience.

Melissa Treiber said...

Ridley,
I just want to tell you what an inspiration you have been to me. After reading the article in Homelife magazine I found your blog. I have gone back & read many of the past blogs & this one today really spoke to me (as well as many others!). I know and can identify with exactly what you are talking about. I have realized that God is not to be outdone when it comes to taking care of me & my family. I do however want to ask you, how do you suggest helping someone who knows these principles, but is not applying them? If you could email me I would love to know your thoughts. mtreiber@wtamu.edu.
Thanks again for your inspiring words & God Bless you in your journey!

Anonymous said...

For some time I have been reading your blog. I can't remember how I found it (a link to a link to a link....you know how that goes) but, when I did, I knew your face was familiar. Once I looked at the picture of your precious family, I knew. Your sweet daughter was in my son's class at Winstead in the second grade. Of course, I always noticed the commitment you had to your children and your involvement at the school. It was sometime during that year that I learned of the tragedy that had occurred in the lives of your family. I prayed for you all then and continue to do so. I have used your story as a testimony to others who were experiencing trying times and, recently, was so thrilled to see your story in the HomeLife magazine.

Anyway, all that to say that I was inclined to reply to today's post regarding tithing and your statement, "you can't outgive God". I believe this in such a huge way. I, like many others, took too long to learn it and live it but, once I got it I got it!

It was many years ago that we were struggling young parents. We did well to make ends meet each month but God was working on us in this regard. We had received an income tax return in the amount of $1563.00 (remember this number) and had talked ourselves out of tithing on that. My husband is a CPA and numbers must "make sense" to him. He felt that we had already tithed on the income from which that refund was derived and every penny was ours to keep. Anyway, we let one Sunday go by and didn't tithe on that amount though it was gnawing at us. On Tuesday or Wednesday of that week, the smaller of our two air conditioning units went out. It was the unit that operated the air in the upstairs part of our house; where the kids rooms were. We called someone to come and fix it. Just sick about it. When the man finished working on the unit, he came and handed me a bill. For $156.00. In addition, he handed me his business card. It had the usual stuff on the front and on the back, he had stamped the following, "If you meet me and forget me, you have lost nothing. If you meet Jesus and forget him, you have lost everything." This man, I learned, was a bi-vocational pastor. God is SO good!

As I look back at this now, I can see that we have matured in so many ways (Thank You, Jesus!). I was just reading my own words thinking, "why didn't we see it as a blessing that God had let the a/c go out AFTER we had gotten the income tax check since, otherwise, we probably wouldn't have had that money. Hmmm....

Now, we not only believe that you can't outgive Him; we also believe that He'll get it out of you one way or another.

Thank you for your transparency.

Kelley Williams
kelleywms@hotmail.com
Brentwood, TN