Musings & Moments

Tithing on time….?

My first year of teaching was many years ago at New England Christian Academy, and yet I clearly remember planning for one of my first Bible lessons. I remember it because it stuck with me through the years.The lesson itself was on giving, however, it seemed almost silly to reinforce tithing to 6th graders who didn’t work or really make money in anyway. That does not mean that I did not include this principle, but it does mean that I knew I had to go beyond it to where the kids were, to what they could apply it now, and not months from now when their Christmas money poured in 😉 
As we began discussing the meaning of giving the class began to come to an understanding that we don’t give simply because it’s commanded, but also because we are demonstrating an outward display of gratitude for God’s provisions. It is also a way of supporting the church that we attend and the ministries that have been placed on our heart’s through prayer. 
HOWEVER, it can be SO much more than that because we have been given SO much more than monetary provisions! With that one thought we began discussing some of the other things God has given us: family, food, friends, clothes, etc were some of the first selections. However, we really can’t “give back” 10% of our family or friends, can we? LOL So the list continued (with some guidance) and we began adding gifts like “free will” and “time”………now we’re getting somewhere! TIME. Time is a measurable gift from God. It gives us order. It helps us plan. It is specific and can be monitored. FREE WILL. Free will also plays a role in time because we are able to chose HOW we will spend our time. Now there’s an interesting connection, go 6th graders! Now came the “text-to-self” connection I was hoping for: money is measurable; time is measurable. money is a gift; time is a gift. we chose to give God 10% of our money in obedience and with a thankful heart; we (usually) do not chose to give God a full, uninterrupted 10% of our time. Oooh boy, there’s the break-down….but also where the heart of our Bible lesson began. (To clarify, the Bible does not command a giving back of our time in percentage form, and that was made clear to the class)
Let me digress for a minute and admit that as I was planning this lesson I was completely overtaken by this idea. I had grown up in the church, had an awesome pastor and teen leader, a great group of Christian friends, Christian parents and even a few years in Christian schools; yet I could not recall being encouraged to spend more time with God than a daily devotion took, so maybe 15-20 min, which is FAR less than 10% of my day. Naturally, I began searching Scripture and continued my lesson planning….which is where we will pick back up 😉
Okay, so now here I am with a room full of 6th graders discussing how we spend our time. It didn’t take us long to implement some basic math skills and create some quick ratios which reflected the percentages of how our time is spent…and the results were pretty surprising! They obviously knew that they watched TV and played video games, but their reactions to the reality of HOW much time they spent doing those things was outright hysterical! However, there were some students who were genuinely surprised at the calculations because when we began the lesson they predicted that they probably spent 15-20% of their time with God; but in a mathematical, undeniable reality they spent about 2% of their awake time with Him. That’s a pretty big difference…and possibly where a few too many of us are in our own reasoning.

Personally, this lesson stuck with me because it was the first time that I began to consider my need to spend more time in prayer and Bible reading in specific relation to time itself. In essence, it was the first time that I looked at the time that I had…I mean REALLY looked at it and then began restructuring it.I also began asking myself the following questions: how can I expect to emulate the Lord, to honor Him, to know what His Word has to say, to love and forgive as a believer should, to not fear, to trust…all of that and SO much more, if I am not actually meeting with Him. Daily. For large chunks of time. In the quiet. Based on those questions (and several others) along with a desire to dedicate more time to my spiritual growth and personal relationship with Jesus I began to reallocate my time, something I am still working on today.

In fact, more recently I fell in love with 1 Peter 2:2, “like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.” I read this on my ipod one day while nursing Annalee and it struck me differently. At the time, she was nursing for 45min every 2 hours. This meant that she was only going 1 hour and 15 minutes without eating, at the most. As newborn babies in Christ we should long for that same constant intake of His Word. We should long for that communion with Him.

The Bible explains why reading Scripture is so important to us personally and interpersonally; but most importantly we learn why it is so important to foster a relationship with our Savior because if that relationship is Biblically and prayerfully fostered most everything else will fall into place:

Romans 10:17 explains that Scripture reading is needed in order to grow in our faith, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”

1 Peter 2:1-3 explains that we need to feed on the Word of God in order to live righteously, “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

2 Timothy 3:15-16 states “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”

However, despite these Biblical truths, as a culture we don’t seem to read God’s Word enough to truly experience much of what Paul is talking about in either of the books referenced above. We need to know, study, memorize and apply God’s Word….all of which requires time, something we never seem to have enough…or perhaps we’re just misappropriating it?

We also need to commune with God through prayer, and not only while we are driving, cooking, standing in line or laying down our heads. Not that there is anything wrong with that; however, we also need personal, quiet intimate time with God that only happens when we are alone in prayer. Jesus, who was and is one with God, set the example for us by separating Himself for the purpose of prayer.

Mt:14:23 “And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.”

Mt:26:36 “Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.”

Mk:1:35 “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.”

Mk:6:46 “And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray.”

Mk:14:32 “And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray.”

Lk:5:16 “And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.”

Lk:6:12 “And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.”

…..and those are just a handful of verses! Ahhhhh, I’m so in love with God’s Word! it awakens me to the need that I have to set time aside for prayer and the studying of His Word. It continually challenges me to consider the use of my time, my growth and my personal goals.

As Pastor Mike Woodward would say, “as a post-modern culture” it is all too often that we don’t even consider the 3 hours of TV that we watch, the 3+ hours that we spend on social networks, the time spent gossiping (you know, gathering prayer requests…), the time spent exercising (something I should be committing time to!)…and most of it is wasted time, not all of it, but probably too much of it. It was time that could have served a greater purpose. Time that could have drawn us closer to God. Time that could have been used for prayer in the midst of Spiritual warfare. Time that could have been used to truly encourage a friend or family member. Time that could have been spent playing a board game growing bonds to the heart’s of our family members. 😉 time is precious; it’s worth considering how we are spending it and for me, it was worth taking some time to re-evaluate how I am spending mine 😉

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