I try to pray this prayer before I listen to anyone or anything at church: God, please let me hear what you want me to hear. Let me not pay attention to anything else. These are important words for me. These words help me remember that the ultimate Teacher is God’s Spirit within me.
These words also help me remember that a single spoken message may appeal to people in thousands of different ways because we’re all in different places. The Truth my Spirit deciphers may differ greatly from the truth of another; this is the power of God to speak to each of us where we are. So I guess that’s my disclaimer– that my interpretation may not be the same as yours, and that doesn’t mean that either of us is wrong.
Today I heard a message in church about the importance of tithing. The crux of the speaker’s message was this: we show God where He is on our priority list when we choose to (or not to) bring Him the tithe. As a matter of fact, the tithe isn’t even ours to give, because it’s God’s in the first place; we simply “bring” the tithe to Him instead (because it would be silly to “give” God something that is already His.) The tithe is our “first fruit” because it is the most excellent of everything we have to offer; it’s not the leftovers, it’s the the best. Ultimately, the tithe is not to be given, it’s simply to be returned.
And this is what arose within my spirit as I listened to a speaker I genuinely liked and genuinely trusted: You are the tithe.
And so now I look at the crux of this speaker’s message through this new Spirit lens– and it’s kind of crazy stuff. My life isn’t even mine to give because it’s God’s to begin with. (Remember- it would be silly to “give” him something that is already his.) The process of transforming into a new creation is a process of returning. My life is God’s whether I “give” it to him or not.
Perhaps God spoke to me in such a way not because tithing is wrong, but because– unlike the rich young ruler– money has never been my god. By grace– I’ve always had enough of it and never had too much of it. I think Jesus asked that rich young ruler to give up his wealth because he knew it was the man’s most prized possession. My most prized possession is my life. When I choose to not bring my life to God, I will inevitably miss out on his blessing. But God cannot and will not lose what is His to begin with– and that includes my soul.
Perhaps even salvation is an act of returning as opposed to receiving. My eternity cannot be lost because it is not mine to give.