Several years ago I met Mrs Faithful Member. She was one of several brothers and sisters who together with their families attended a small city church. She was a committed, loyal, second-generation Seventhday Adventist, who was passionate about maintaining her active relationship with her Lord.
She and her two daughters took an active part in the ministries of the church. The life of the family evolved around the church, sharing their time and their resources. Her husband was not a member of the church, but was supportive of the family's commitment.
One day while talking to her I noticed a tone of remorse and discouragement in her voice. I inquired whether she was encountering a problem, personally or within her family. She said there was a problem but that I could not be of any assistance; she would have to work through the issues herself. I suggested that if she needed my help she should not hesitate to make contact.
A few weeks later she phoned, requesting that I visit with her. She indicated she had something important to share with me.
She began her story with an apology, indicating how sorry she was and the lessons she had learned along the way. She informed me she was consistent in paying her tithe and offerings. She always met her obligations to God and the church, even though her husband was the only breadwinner in the family. Both her daughters attended the local university. She said that while they did not have much, they were extremely happy as a family. They were not materialistically inclined; they were content with what they had.
One day her husband came home, informing her that he had found a new job with a salary four times his current income. He gave all the reasons why he should move and in many ways was justified in heading in that direction. The first month's salary in his new job gave the family a good financial boost. As the months rolled on, the need to maintain the family's standard of living now became a priority. The returning of tithe was compromised by inconsistency. Finally, she stopped returning her tithe and used the money to
satisfy their wants. Several months went by, then one day the husband received notice that he was being made redundant. He lost his job and now found himself unemployed. The family sought help from both family and friends for food and the other necessities of life.
As she shared this story, she became emotional with pauses between her sharing. We prayed together, asking God to intervene on behalf of the family by providing work for her husband. A few days later, her husband found employment with his previous company, which offered him a much lower salary. He took on the job because he had no other option but to find employment so that he could provide for his family.
Mrs Faithful Member said she realised her neglect of returning to God what belonged to Him. She renewed her covenant with God pledging a double tithe. She indicated there were hardships at the beginning, but the Lord took care of their needs. Over a period of time her husband received several promotions, her daughters qualified as professionals, and God had multiplied their resources several times over. She could not help but praise God. Her husband was later baptised and served God faithfully until the time of his death.
Today she is in the sunset years of her life; she continues to return a faithful tithe, support her local church and assist the underprivileged in the community. She says that God is true to His word, and in her experience particularly the promise of tithing in Malachi 3.
"Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do," says the Lord Almighty, "I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won't have enough room to take it in! Try it! Let me prove it to you!" Malachi 3:10.
Roger Govendor is director of personal ministries, Sabbath school and stewardship for the Greater Sydney Conference.