Thursday, 13 October 2016

Giving and giving back

Firstly, long and detailed directions on what - and what not to eat. God's amazing provision to help keep His people healthy, including instructions not to eat anything they found already dead.  Of course, who knows how fresh the meat would be, or if it harboured disease. (A little disturbingly, God said they could give or sell such meat to a foreigner...)

But after that, instructions on tithing. vv 22 - 26 "Make an offering of ten percent, a tithe, of all the produce which grows in your fields year after year. Bring this into the Presence of God, your God, at the place he designates for worship and there eat the tithe from your grain, wine, and oil and the firstborn from your herds and flocks. In this way you will learn to live in deep reverence before God, your God, as long as you live. 

But if the place God, your God, designates for worship is too far away and you can’t carry your tithe that far, God, your God, will still bless you: exchange your tithe for money and take the money to the place God, your God, has chosen to be worshiped. Use the money to buy anything you want: cattle, sheep, wine, or beer—anything that looks good to you. You and your family can then feast in the Presence of God, your God, and have a good time.

The Israelites were also reminded to take care of the Levites, who served God but had no land of their own and therefore no way to support themselves: "That way they’ll have plenty to eat and God, your God, will bless you in all your work."

So I think of tithing, of giving back to God what he has given me. A way of living in mindfulness that everything I have has come from God. I am humbly acknowledging this when I give back to Him by giving money to those who depend on gifts to help others - the Tumaini Fund, Compassion International, Christians Against Poverty, Barnabas Fund, all in their different ways.

Tithing is a reminder of the slow nature of farming, the steady, faithful work, of tending and caring and praying for good weather and waiting and waiting and waiting. Tithing is a reminder to slow the pace of my life down, to stop and pause and give thanks. It is for the purpose of communion with God, to pause to be in his presence. To enjoy life with him, living life in awareness of him.  Matthew Henry says, commenting on these verses: "Contentment, holy joy, and thankfulness, make every meal a religious feast."

Lysa Terkeust in First Five comments: "Jesus echoed what we learned today during His time on earth. He held fast to God's desire for the slower rhythms. Though he drew a crowd, his heart was drawn to individual connection. He rose early to lovingfy linger with his father in prayer. He sought out opportunities to slow down and notice hurting individuals. He longed for intimate conversation with those closest to him while enjoying long suppers."

It's Harvest Festival time. I'm reminded that giving thanks for the Harvest is just that: giving thanks, remembering anew to trust God for life itself.

Learning to trust God with the pace of my life, my place in the world and for him to provide all my needs, in every way.

"Learn to live in deep reverence before God."

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