The LORD will work for us. – 1 Samuel 14:6
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Suppose God sent out bills? You open the mail and there it is, itemized like Visa. “You owe me everything you have. Plus a lot more.” Uh-huh. Example: “On Monday, you were depressed. I sent the waitress to your table at lunch. She lifted your spirits, remember? And you didn’t even leave her a decent tip. As for me . . .” I can hear you, even now, arguing on His 800 number: “Even so, Lord, I don’t think it’s fair to make us pay up for everything you’ve given us. I mean, I didn’t even use most of it. I think I should only have to pay for what I accepted, not everything I’ve rejected . . .” Of course, he does send out bills. Quietly, He asks for our service. Our devotion. Our love. Sometimes his bills are causes. Sometimes they are callings. Consider the parable of the talents: we are to invest on His behalf. How do you repay such a debt? What currency do you use? How do we send it? HOLY OBEDIENCE! (Pay back with love. Pay back with thanksgiving.) Pay back in those real bills, the ones we put at the bottom of the pile . . . the ones we save to pay off with “a little something” once the more pressing bills – taxes, utilities, insurance, mortgage, and car – are taken care of. Whatever is left. As if He saves His resources for us in the same manner. As if He checks with Accounting to see if we’re paid up before He answers our prayers! Tithing is one way of acknowledging that debt. Early Friends objected to the tithe. They paid in other ways. With their lives. With prison terms. With their witness. It has been said that the reason the early Nantucket Island settlers turned to the Society of Friends was that, being free of hireling ministry, it was cheaper than the alternatives. Little did they know! Sometimes the hour of silence can seem a burden – a high price for us to bear. And then we break through the barriers of our own making and come into His presence, and feel our souls filled with singing and thanksgiving – and realize there is no other way. Early Friends knew how much other brothers and sisters earned. There was no fear of disclosure. They established funds to support those suffering for their witness – and to assist those traveling in the free Gospel ministry. George Fox established the Kendall Fund. The scriptures call for stewardship – and helping the poor and downtrodden. The scriptures call for a drastic redistribution of wealth every fifty years; the Jubilee concept leaves both capitalism and Marxist socialism in the dust. It recognizes the freedom of human enterprise while adjusting for the differences of productive gifts.
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And this is the Day of the Lord’s making bare his saving Arm, and revealing his Power, even that Time wherein he lets in Light into the Soul; which not only discovers to Man his Sin, that leads down to the Chambers of Death, but also shews him the Way of Holiness, which leads to everlasting Life. (Elizabeth Bathurst, 1655?-1685)