by: Janet Allyn
Like some of you, I grew up attending a Baptist church every Sunday morning for Sunday School and Worship Service, as well as Sunday and Wednesday nights. Just a couple of weeks ago, I remembered that my mother and father worked in the Nursery, just as I do now. My mother did not work outside our home until I went to college, and my father was an electrician. In those days, electricians did not make nearly as much as they do now. Our family lived in a 1 bedroom, 1 bath home for 35 years and then they were able to move into a larger home. You see, my parents always gave to the church with their time, talents, and money, knowing that God would meet their needs and bless them in many different ways. When I go old enough, I started giving some of my allowance, as well as working in Vacation Bible School, singing in the youth choir, and playing the piano. This was the 1st STEP in my stewardship journey.
When I went to college, I was not as faithful in attending church or in giving but when Tom and I married, we started attending church. In the summer of 1972, Tom was the Summer Youth Minister here at Bayshore Baptist. We found our “extended family” here, and we never left! STEP 2 was when started giving again, but we gave sporadically at first. However, this “family” encouraged us to give to the work of the church on a more regular basis, as well as be involved in other activities of the church. This was STEP 3.
In those days we filled out pledge cards indicating how much we would give for the coming year. There were times when we thought we didn’t have the money to give, so we would pay our other bills and then pay the church back later when we had the money. Then a person in this family pointed out to us Malachi 3:8 where it reads “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ In tithes and offerings….bring the “WHOLE” tithe into the storehouse. TEST me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgate of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”
Now, note that this says “blessings”, not just money or things. “Blessings” come in many forms: joy, health, friends, family, peace, comfort, beauty around us, etc. However, also note the words “Test me”. I’ve been told that this is the only place in the Bible where God challenges us to test him. This person suggested that we write the check to the church FIRST before we paid any other bills.
(By the way, yes, we wrote checks! Now we have Pushpay and other ways that you can give to the church. You can even set it up where it comes out automatically, like you probably do some of your other bills.)
We had to ask ourselves, did we trust God enough to give to the church first? So we put God to the “test,” and He has never failed us. This was STEP 4. Yes, there have been times when it went right down to the wire to pay the other bills. Sometimes extra money would come when we didn’t expect it, like a rebate, or a bonus, a dividend, a gift, etc. God NEVER failed! Tom was a deputy sheriff, and I was a teacher. Not the higher paying jobs around, but we have far more than I ever thought we would have, and our lives are truly blessed, but by far more than money. This stewardship journey has increased our faith as well as our relationship with God. We experience God in new and different ways each and every day.
In 1 Chronicles 29:14 David says, “But who am I and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you God, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” STEP 5 was deciding to give far more than we had ever given. I’m not going to give you a number or a percentage because this isn’t about just us. It is about all of us and our faith in God. It is about being good stewards and giving to God our resources—our time, our talents, as well as our money. Each of us has to pray and respond in faith. Our giving may start with a small amount or a small percentage or a larger amount or large percentage, but if it doesn’t require faith, we are missing out on those many blessings that God promises. I think it must be radical, like so many of Jesus’ teachings, when he said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
To bring this full circle, STEP 6 is about teaching YOUR children about stewardship, and showing them, by your example, that God will take care of them, if they have faith. That’s where it started for me.