As a child growing up in a small Adventist church in northwestern Ohio, I heard many sermons from pastors, evangelists, and local elders about the truths of the Bible. The matter of faithfulness in tithes and offerings brought conviction to my young heart. I began to return faithfully to God that which He claims as His—the tithe. As I grew older I also started giving offerings.
During academy I continued to follow these convictions and arranged for tithing of my school earnings. Upon graduation from Emmanuel Missionary College (now Andrews University), I accepted my first denominational position as an accountant at Wisconsin Academy. While there I married my college sweetheart, and in due time two little girls blessed our home.
As is the case so often for families with young children (ours were only 13 months apart) the medical bills for childhood illnesses became a challenge to handle on our small denominational salary. In time our share of the medical bills, after health-care subsidies, made it very difficult to cover all our family expenses and continue to be faithful in returning tithe and offerings. We finally succumbed to the temptation not to return tithe and offerings on time. We steadily fell behind on those obligations until we were many months in arrears.
My wife and I were conscience stricken, but we didn’t know how to catch up on our small salary. Finally we decided we had to do something. We decided to borrow enough money to be up-to-date with the tithe, offerings, and a pledge we had made for a local project. Without anywhere else to turn, we borrowed the money from a local lending agency. The interest rate was high, but we wanted to be right with God. The high interest seemed a small price to pay for a clear conscience.
Almost from that very day forward, our financial fortunes began to improve, slowly but steadily. While we have never been close to wealthy, the Lord has blessed us and has satisfied our needs. From that painful experience many years ago, we learned the joys and contentment that are ours when we put God first. We learned not to use His funds as we want, even when we are in financial distress. Then He is free to keep His promises of blessings for faithfulness.
“And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart” (Jeremiah 24:7).
By Hubert Moog
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