Put the Lord to the Test

Bulletin Letter, Ordinary Time Sunday 33C

Someone once pointed out to me that the only time in the Bible that God ever tells us to test Him is in connection to the practice of tithing. Malachi 3:10 reads, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, and see if I do not open the floodgates of heaven for you, and pour down upon you blessing without measure!” Tithing is the practice of giving back to God 10% of everything we receive. It is an acknowledgement that our life, our abilities, everything we are and everything we have has been given to us by God, and we are meant to use it to honor and serve Him. It is also an act of faith that God will not be outdone in generosity, that He will provide for us and bless us abundantly if we are faithful to Him. In an agricultural society, tithing usually involved bringing the first 10% of the harvest, the first fruits of the field, into the Temple. Today, many are more likely to make monetary donations to charities and to their churches.

“Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more” (Luke 12:48). What has God entrusted to you, and how is He calling you to use it for the building up of His kingdom? We usually talk about time, talent, and treasure when we talk about stewardship. If we follow the Old Testament ideal of tithing and giving the 10% back to God, 10% of our income is easy enough to calculate. Less clear would be 10% of our talent, but it would be pretty sad to see someone putting forward only ten-percent effort when they volunteer. Something I had never really considered before is what 10% of our time would be. If we take 24 hours to be the total amount of time that God gives us each day, ten percent of that would be 2.4 hours. Now how many of us could confidently say that we are faithful in giving God 2.4 hours of our time each day?

I don’t think we should necessarily just use a simple formula. God might be asking more of us or less of us depending upon our circumstances, but looking at the numbers can at least get us thinking and perhaps challenge us to give more of ourselves than we have before. Please prayerfully consider where and how God is calling you to get involved. This is your parish. Take pride in it. Take responsibility for it. Resources and training are available to help you get involved. Step out in faith. You will not regret it.

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