It’s been quite a long time since I’ve actually journalled a personal journal. Yes, of course I have been very busy. I wish I was more consistent with my journalling because I have so much good stuff to share but there’s no way I can write it all.
Part of the biggest news in my life ATM is my new position at the church. Being an intern is different from the position I am used to, but being an employee of the church – that is weird. Why? Because, my paycheck is made up of people’s tithe! People give there money to God, and then that money is given me to exercise my freedom under the law of Christ to buy what I think is worthy of spending people’s tithe on. But of course it is not my spending that is effected by this new found meaning in my bank account, it is also my work ethic. I am really motivated to make sure I am working hard, productively, and to the best of my ability at all times! If I don’t, then people’s tithes are paying me to bludge. Agh! What a crime! This was reinforced in me last night when I was listening to Mark Driscoll answer a couple of Q&A’s. The question was “What does a couple do with date night when they can’t afford to go on even cheap dates”, Mark’s answer was “Well Gracey and I have this room off the side of our bedroom with a fireplace and a big flat screen, that we use to get away and enjoy each other”. Sorry Mark I do appreciate your anointed gift from God (which is why I listen) but if you were my pastor and you had said that to me, I would have seriosuly considered re-locating my tithe to a place that needs it.
In our married life, we have mainly been poor. In the first half or marriage, we made bad financial decisions. In the second half we were convicted and realized that our money is not our own (thank you Mark Driscoll it was actually you who solidified this with your line “how much money are you stealing from Jesus?”). Our understanding on what we should spend money on was re-shaped. We understand that we have freedom to spend that money on things for our selves, date night, a treat for our kids now and then, a better computer screen for my job, an iPhone for productivity. However, tithe has been the highest priority and I consider it a joy to give my first fruits! Sometimes tithing has left us with not quite enough to buy all the food we need and pay our bills and both my wife and I have grown to walk through those trials, with smiles! Knowing that God is good Luke 12:22-34. However, if I went to my pastor and said: “I love to give my first fruits the the Lord, even though it often means, skipping meals, having no insured vehicle, not being able to go running in the wet because I can’t afford new shoes without holes, and not being able to wash my hair because my shampoo is frozen in the morning. By the way, pastor of my church, what have you bought with that money I gave you ?” And he replied “I built a side room on my bedroom with a fireplace and flat screen TV so my wife and I can snuggle”. My first thought would be this “I am going to stop giving you my money, and start giving it to someone who needs it”.
Why do I write all this? Because now, this is me! I am (somewhat) in the position that Mark Driscoll is in, I also sit in the receiving end of people’s tithe. Knowing what I know about the struggles people go through to pay tithe, am I going to spend that money on things that the tithe payers would not pay toward if they knew what I was spending the money on? Certainly I do not, and have not ever considered owning a flat screen to be bad. Maggie and I own a projector so that for our date nights – we watch silver screen movies in our living room. I was reminding Maggie of this when I saw the steam coming out of her ears as Mark Driscoll talked about his date night alternative. So what’s the difference? Well firstly, by reminding Maggie that we ourselves have a projector, she was reminded that just because we have something expensive doesn’t mean we paid a lot of money (the projector was given free, so was our car). Secondly, I may have initially thought I should relocate the tithe I was paying after getting that response from my pastor, however after some thought I would change my mind. Why? Because my church is actively involved in helping our community, building disciples and winning the lost to Christ. There is some trust I have to put in my pastor that he will consider his own accountability before God concerning his expenditures.
How does that apply to me? If I am asking people of our congregation to trust that I will seek to obey and honor God with my wallet then I must show them I am serious about that responsibility with my reproach. So then, If someone is to come to me and say, “What have you bought with that money I gave you”, I can shamelessly and humbly answer honestly knowing that I am ultimately accountable before the Throne of Christ.