David had enough. “That’s the last straw! I am sick and tired of hearing sermons and lessons and illustrations about money! It seems like all the preacher ever does is talk about money!” This outburst came from David, a man with a job and a family and expenses that seemed endless. He walked a tightrope between satisfying the obligations of his lifestyle and financial disaster every month.
Fortunately, David had a friend…someone who had walked in faith for a little longer season of life. His friend simply offered this thought:
“Perhaps it isn’t the preacher’s message but the Holy Spirit’s working in your life and conscience. It was that way for me…and I discovered that what I thought was a constant beating was actually God’s invitation for me to find victory over a stronghold of disobedience in my life.”
So, David decided to try it. Let me just see if I can be obedient. He looked at his bank statement, multiplied his payroll amount by 10% and made a payment to the church for the full tithe…right down to the decimals. $243.11. V.I.C.T.O.R.Y.!
Only what David found very soon is that obedience requires faith and faith is costly. All was good for a few weeks.
- Then it was the washing machine. $155.00 unexpected expense.
- Then the left rear tire of the car. $179.21.
- Then the water bill arrived and was doubled because the toilet in the hall bath was constantly running.
David’s obedience had not resulted in a sudden windfall of money appearing in his account. Instead, there was an almost audible “sucking sound” as the account drained off his reserves. Then the next payroll period arrived. What do you do now? Replace the reserves? Cut back on that “outlandish commitment” you made to the Lord? This is the place where faith is exhibited and developed. Obedience requires faith and faith is costly.
My faith journey is pretty similar to this. Getting me to trust God with “my money” has been a difficult (from my perspective) undertaking, but God has patiently persevered in His role of drawing me to trust Him. For me, I decided to make the “tithe” to the Lord through my church and trust God for Discover Card. As a friend of mine counseled me in those days… “If you are going to owe someone something…do you want it to be Discover Card or God?” That has been more than two decades ago and we have never missed our tithe. Not because man inspected it but because I recognized the NEED to obey and realized that obedience required faith and faith is costly. By the way, I’ve never missed a payment, or a meal, or sent my children to school without shoes. There were many times when we chose to forego what my neighbors were “into” in order to be faithful, but I never missed one essential thing. What I gained though was invaluable!
I could hear other things in sermons and lessons than “money.” I learned about forgiveness, hope, joy, and purpose. I learned to default to prayer. I learned (and am learning) to rest in the Lord’s promise even when it was unreasonable to expect. I learned some empathy…since I came to recognize in others the indicators of strongholds that were true in my life…and knowing how difficult it was for me, I could pray for them and counsel them in better ways. I learned that God is and always has been faithful to Himself and loving toward His people. He really will provide all of our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
What work is God doing in your life to draw you toward holiness?
What stronghold exists that is impeding your growth in faith?
What area of obedience is difficult but necessary?
How is your faith “costly”?
Perhaps, like David, you just need to draw the line and step across. Real joy and peace lies just beyond the line of faith.