BY REV. TIM HARMON - LAKE PARK FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to be good, rich in good deeds, and generous and willing to share — 1 Timothy 6:17-18
I was at the nursing home in Lake Park for Bible study the other day and we were talking about ways to follow God. One of the residents had a question: “Pastor, I have been told that giving to the church is important and that it is what it means to be a member. But, how do you tithe if you have no money?”
After telling her that was a good question, I asked them if money was the measure of how much God loved us or we loved God. They agreed that money and God’s love were not the same thing. One lady added, “But God wants you to give to him. What is at your disposal is at God’s if you follow that. So I have to give what I have to God.”
We talked some more and looked at some examples like Ananias and Sapphira from Acts 5 who sold a house but held some back and fell dead from lying about it.
“Sounds like it is money again,” said one resident. “Not true,” chimed in another, “it’s about greed. You see they had all that money at their disposal. That is, they weren’t living off of it. It was extra. That you give to God, but they wanted it for themselves. But greed isn’t just about money. It’s about hoarding other things for yourself too.”
That was an interesting thought so we together explored it some more. What other things do we have to share but sometimes hoard to ourselves? What would the world be, what would our life be, if we gave of these things. Some examples the ladies at the nursing home came up with are: your smiles, your morning greetings, your prayers, your extra dessert, your stories, your shawls, your right of way down the hall, your eye contact (“Not many here make eye contact,” one lady said), your laughter, your listening ear, your concern for family, letters to family (both getting and receiving them), saying thanks, keeping your walker out of the main traffic, and giving up your paint color at activities because someone else likes it too.
We have these things and we own them all, and they were all given by God to us for our awareness and enjoyment. We are called to share that with Christ for the mission of the church. This is as much a tithe as money. One resident said she had heard something about putting hope in God and doing good deeds as the real way to have joy in life, and so we found this quote in 1 Timothy.
Do you count your enjoyment in life through your hope and opportunities to do good and be good and share? How do they do that in the nursing home? Day to day and little interaction at a time. How do they do that who live outside the nursing home? The simple answer — the same way. Do you keep your road rage at a minimum and instead share your safety and calmness? Do you return change when a cashier gives you too much instead of hoard it in your pocket? Do you greet each other with eye contact and a smile? Do you say or send thank yous to people? Do you share a joke or a laugh or a smile during your day?
What other ways can you share what you have and become rich? Talk about it this month, and if you can’t think of any ways then go see the folks at the nursing home — they have plenty of ideas!