Malachi 3:10-12 “I will open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing”. I have a beautiful picture of God pouring streams of living water from heaven onto a parched world. We have had some dramatic thunderstorms this week revealing the power of rain.
So am I going to preach the prosperity gospel: believe in God and he will bless you abundantly? Give to the church and what you donate will be returned to you many times over? No I have seen the excesses of this evil gospel preached for example by Dr Dollar, a British pastor flying in on his private jet to Uganda funded from the collections of poor Ugandans struggling to pay bills
What was wrong
with the farmer’s story? He worked hard and brought in a great harvest. Isn’t that what many of us are doing working hard, seeking promotion and better pay? Are we saying that savings and creating a pension for old age is wrong? Definitely not, we need to budget carefully and provide for a rainy day and retirement
Is it that he didn’t pay his
tithes properly? The Bible is full of instructions of bring your first fruits back to God, offering sacrifices in the temple, giving 10% to the church. It is clear we should give regularly to the church and charities, and I will come back to that but I don’t think this is the problem with the farmer in Luke’s story
I think it’s about
appreciation, sharing and giving.
“There is more in you
of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit,
The logically thing to do with a bumper harvest is to have a feast, celebrate the success
The reason for offering the first fruits
at the temple was to say thanks to God, to acknowledge the divine provision, to appreciate the good things around us. In Uganda we said grace at every meal because we weren’t always sure where the next meal was coming from. When so much effort and hours had been put into the cooking I was grateful. Here in the UK I am often eating food on the go. I am not spending time appreciating it and taking this abundance for granted. Looking to all the blessing we have and being grateful make life seem so much happier.
Why didn’t the farmer have a
party? That would have been the obvious thing to do with a bumper harvest have a feast and share it with family and friends. The idea of givers gain, that there is a joy and blessing in sharing. No man is and Island by John Dunne that we are not meant to be on our own.
This leads on to the advantages of tithing, It is useful for us and charities to budget. Knowing what your income is and prioritising expenditure. Choosing up front what you value most, where you priorities lie. We wouldn’t spend all our salary on food and then not be able to pay the rent would we? What do you value most? What do you spend money on? Do you decide ahead of time on what is important and where your spending should be focused? For the charity they can budget and move forward in confidence without always looking over their shoulders to see if any money is left or stopping a project half way through. What more would you like to see Journey doing? Do you want to fund staying at St Paul’s and outreach and serving the community? The
only thing the gospels say we will be judged on is the parable of the sheep and goats where Jesus says if you feed and cloth a stranger and visit her in prisons etc then you have done it for Jesus. Matthew 25
http://www.nationalaccountsofwellbeing.orgIn the news this week the UK statistics on wellbeing, how we are feeling were published and UK has overtaken France despite our financial crises and longer working hours.
Mahatma Gandhi, 20th century
“Earth provides enough to satisfy every
man’s need, but not every man’s greed.”
Oscar Wilde, 19th century
“Ordinary riches can be stolen, real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you.”