by Penny Brink
I love the way my German friends use the English language. Sometimes they’ll say they are “making an experience” instead of “having an experience.” It articulates a more active than passive attitude. This has often given me pause to consider what part we play in the way our lives play out. Am I a passive or an active agent in the direction of my own life?
Let’s take that thought and apply it to our spiritual lives. Does faith produce obedience, or does obedience produce faith? Do I first need faith in order to be obedient to God’s commands, or does my obedience to God’s commands lead me to greater faith?
When it comes to financial stewardship, how much faith do I need before I start returning tithe and commit to a regular percentage-based offering of my income? Or is the real question, rather: When I return a faithful tithe and give regular offerings, will my obedience create or grow my faith? How would I demonstrate my faith anyway, if I didn’t take action?
I have a choice to make and an active part to play in growing my faith, and I can achieve this growth through obedience to God’s commands and His leading through His Word and the Spirit of Prophecy.
When it comes to keeping the Sabbath or setting aside time for devotions, family worship, sharing my faith with others, or taking care of my health, do I wait until I have enough time or faith or energy, or do I “just do it” and enjoy the results of a balanced and productive life?
I have no choice but to acknowledge that obedience and faith are linked. In fact, it might be more accurate to say, as my German friends might, that obedience “makes” faith experiences with God. I have a choice to make and an active part to play in growing my faith, and I can achieve this growth through obedience to God’s commands and His leading through His Word and the Spirit of Prophecy.
Am I just talking about a kind of robotic obedience or pragmatic plan? No; instead, I’m referring to the choice to put God to the test and learn to trust Him. He allows for us to claim His promises. Malachi 3:10 says: “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.
Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it’ ”(NIV, italics supplied).
Ellen White confirms that obedient stewardship practices will lead to spiritual growth: “The idea of stewardship should have a practical bearing upon all the people of God. . . . Practical benevolence will give spiritual life to thousands of nominal professors of the truth who now mourn over their darkness” (Counsels on Stewardship, pp. 112, 113).
We may rest assured that “whenever God’s people, in any period of the world, have cheerfully and willingly carried out His plan in systematic benevolence and in gifts and offerings, they have realized the standing promise that prosperity should attend all their labors just in proportion as they obeyed His requirements. When they acknowledged the claims of God and complied with His requirements, honoring Him with their substance, their barns were filled with plenty” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 395).
Let us challenge ourselves to use obedience as a way to “make experiences” with God; to put God First in every area of our lives and watch our faith grow as He supplies our every need.