Thursday, March 19, 2015

An Available Heart

Scripture Texts: Numbers 18; Deuteronomy 14:22-29; Malachi 3:8-12

For as long as there have been people, they have struggled with what to offer God. Likewise God has been very clear about what people are called to give to God. It started as animals and grain and then grew to be all inclusive. Early on in the lives of the Israelites God introduced the tithe, the first and best ten percent of everything.

Over the centuries people have been in the practice of withholding the full tithe, usually claiming they did not have enough to give. In Malachi, God challenges the people to offer the tithe and trust that God will open the windows of heaven in response to our trust in God. This is well beyond a proclamation of financial wealth and includes wholeness of being.

All too often we make this only about money. While money is certainly part of the equation, the focus is on the condition of our hearts. God does not need anything from us, rather we need to make an offering so that there is generosity flowing out of our hearts. Making an offering to God in any form is more about our need to make the offering. Our offering shows we trust God to provide and that our hearts are tuned to a whole and deep relationship with God.

One of the leading points of conflict in a marriage is money. The arguments are about how much is had, how much is needed and how the money is spent. We are not financially wealthy people, yet we are very comfortable in our lifestyle. This has not always been the case for us many were the times when things were very lean and hard choices were in front of us. Yet one thing has been constant, whether in plent
y or in want, we have tithed our money, time, talent and effort.

All that we have and all that we are is a gift from God, and God asks in return that we offer ten percent back as an acknowledgment of God's provision. What really happens in giving a tithe is not about the exchange of money, it is the exchange of a heart. A heart fixated on money has very little room for anything else. A marriage fixated on money has very little room for anything else. It is impossible to be fixated on money and God at the same time.

The practice of giving to God the tithe is about keeping room clear in our hearts for God and others. When we offer ourselves and our gifts we become available to God, and our life becomes accessible to others. This is why God makes such a big deal about the tithe, not out of God's need but out of making our heart available. Perhaps this is why when money rules a marriage, the relationship is what suffers most. May we be people who live with available hearts.

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