My mind was preoccupied with doing the finishing touches of our department’s holiday display depicting the city of Bethlehem. My husband and I had completed the building of the arch entering the city and the city walls. As we set up for the nativity scene—the welcoming of our Savior into this world—the thoughts of our chosen theme, “The Birth of Jesus in Bethlehem,” mesmerized my mind. Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem to be accounted for and to pay taxes. They had no place to stay, and Jesus, the Creator of the universe, the Savior of the world, was born and laid in a manger. What a Gift to humanity.
The following day it was my turn to return a gift to my Savior in the form of my tithe and offerings. Every pay period I return the tithe of my gross salary and give a percentage of my income as freewill offerings online before I begin paying my bills. This pay period wasn’t any different. As I sat in front of my computer, eager to put God first, I logged into my church’s online giving Web site and returned my tithe, gave my offerings, and was done in less than three minutes. I proceeded to pay my bills.
The Web sites began sending automatic e-mail receipts for bills paid. When I had completed my bill-paying process, I checked my e-mail to file the receipts. I logged into my account only to discover that I had returned 100 percent of my salary as tithe instead of 10 percent. My first thoughts were, “Wow, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to return 100 percent of my income to God?” Yes, it would be nice, but it wouldn’t be a cheerful experience. Paul commends us in 2 Corinthians 9:7, “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.”
Realizing my mistake, I wasn’t cheerful at all. I needed to either get a refund or reverse the transaction and return my designated 10 percent. I sent an e-mail to the online giving help desk and then called my bank. The bank clerk told me that I would incur a fee for my error if the transaction went through. I spent the first few hours of the morning wondering what to do and laughing about my situation. When all else fails and there’s nothing I can do, I opt to have fun and let God handle my stress. By evening, I had gotten ahold of my local church treasurer, explained the situation to her, and we had a good laugh. In the end, my transaction was voided and I was able to return to God what was rightfully due Him. To God be the glory!
What if God had asked for a refund? What if He had changed His mind about the percentage of His gift of salvation? Where would we be today? Lost and without hope. While I cannot be 100 percent generous with my wages, I can practice 100 percent generosity in other ways by surrendering my will to God. I can gladly sing the chorus of “I Surrender All”:
I surrender all.
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.
I surrender a percentage of my wages (my promise) to God to help carry out the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, reaching the needy souls in all the world. I surrender my talents to be used for His glory. I surrender my all to Jesus because He loves me and gave Himself to die on the cross for a sinner like me. He gave 100 percent. The Lord of the universe, Creator of heaven and earth, came down to the earth to be born and laid in dirt among the animals in a smelly place (symbol of our sinful nature). That’s love beyond all measure. I could never out give the love the Savior has for humankind.
Click here to learn more about how to make a PROMISE.
Johnetta B. Flomo
Associate Editor - God First