Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Can A Little Child Like Me"1 (Lyrics)
In October, Canadians observe Thanksgiving, a celebration of what the Lord has provided during this past growing season. In Jewish tradition, the Festival of Weeks and the Festival of Ingathering (also called the Festival of Tabernacles) were similar to our Thanksgiving: a time of celebrating what God had provided and offering a tenth off the top back to the Lord.
Exodus 34:22 – Celebrate the Festival of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the Festival of Ingathering at the turn of the year. (NIV 2011)
2 Chronicles 31:5 – As soon as the order went out, the Israelites generously gave the firstfruits of their grain, new wine, olive oil and honey and all that the fields produced. They brought a great amount, a tithe of everything. (NIV 2011)
Our Thanksgiving is all about feeling grateful to God, gathering family together and basking in a general sense of wellbeing. It is, actually, my favourite holiday. But perhaps we need to take it a step further and consider the other part of the Festival of Weeks: the giving back to God as an offering of thanks. The Jews gave ten percent of their increase for the support of the priests and Levites. This was not the leftovers, but was supposed to be the best and most perfect fruits, vegetables, grain, and livestock.
2 Corinthians 9:6-9 – Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: "They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever." (NIV 2011)
Now that I tithe, I have often seen God's hand at work: making that monetary donation possible by unexpected monies appearing to offset the expense, or by providing opportunities to earn extra funds. It is my fervent belief and experience that if you undertake a project to the glory of God, He will provide the means to see it through.
Matthew 6:2a – So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. (NIV 2011)
Jesus does not say, "If you give to the needy", but rather, "When you give to the needy". As Christians, we are expected to give freely to support our churches and those less fortunate than ourselves. Whatever we give, He will make up in some way, and we will receive the benefit of knowing that we are thanking God for our bounty, however large or small, by sharing it with others.
This Thanksgiving, consider whether your givings to your church and charities are something you do wholeheartedly and generously with the gifts God has provided. Remember, whatever we give, we cannot outgive God.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your lovingkindness and generosity to us. Help us to remember that all that we have comes from You and that it is our duty to ensure that we share that bounty with the world around us. Amen.