Blessing in Tithing
For our next peak we go further back in the past. Among that hazy blue are some clear peaks pointing like fingers toward heaven. This incident happened some months before I resigned from the ministry. In our Bible readings I had been speaking about tithing, Starting in Leviticus I explained this divine command to give the tenth to God. I could speak freely about it because God had brought me at last to the place of giving Him the tenth part of all. Since then we have never lacked the money to pay the monthly accounts.
This has been all the more surprising because, previously, we always seemed to be left with some unpaid bills each month. This unexpected liberation from debt bore out quite convincingly the repeated testimony of those who give the tenth. An amazing blessing rested on our money matters from the day we decided to obey God about the tithe.
One elderly man among the little group that night sat listening intently. He was bending forward, barely breathing. Only once he sighed deeply, brushing tears from his eyes. In closing we sang ‘I can hear my Saviour calling…’ after which the people dispersed quietly, the man, very silent, among them.
Next day in his working clothes he came to see me. After a long silence he spoke, ‘All my savings are invested in cinema shares…’ He relapsed into silence, then, becoming almost vehement,’ Thai is sin. That is iniquity. Cinema…? I don’t want to support it any longer. I shall sell the shares and give the tenth to the Lord.’
He looked at me as if expecting me to agree with him. Then I heard myself speak and was surprised by my own words, ‘ Are you sure that the Lord will be satisfied with the tenth?’
Taken aback, he rose and quickly withdrew. The next day he was back with a shining face. After greeting me joyfully he announced, ‘I shall sell my shares in the stock exchange and give the money to missionary funds.’ He named a mission which we both esteemed highly. ‘Whose are the shares now? Are they still yours?’ I asked. ‘No I have given them to the Lord…’ ‘Well, may you advertise His property without His permission?’
He looked at me in bewilderment. ‘No-o, I suppose that would be wrong – but what shall I do?’ – ‘Leave it to Him. Let Him send a buyer to your house. You keep absolutely quiet about it.’ ‘But no ones I have these shares. How can I expect anyone to come and buy them?’ – ‘You don’t need to worry. Leave it to Almighty God.’
Six full months later they still had not been sold. No one knew about it. No one but the living God. Again the man nearly lost patience. Yet he still waited.
One day he received an important letter which he read slowly and thoughtfully on his verandah. One item of news in particular riveted his attention: pastor and his family were leaving the work of the mission to go into ‘evangelism.
With eyes gazing into the banana plantation he sat, lost in thought over what he had just read. ‘God has called this brother. God will provide for him,’ he reflected. ‘I wonder if he has already got a house?’ He read the letter again. ‘No, it doesn’t say so. Neither money nor future plans are mentioned.’
A knock at the door broke into his reverie. A friend came in and dropped into a chair. Undoing his leather jacket he said, ‘Listen Ben, someone called on me from Johannesburg the other day. He wants to buy cinema shares. I thought I’d pop over and ask if you knew anyone who had any. The man is wealthy and could make a cash payment.’
A silence, then Ben made some cautious enquiries concerning the unknown millionaire. Could one trust him? The recently arrived letter was still in toil a roughened hand. The paper rustled softly as if reminding him of its contents.
Suddenly he perceived God’s plan. He could see clearly the way he must take. The money would be needed there. That is where the faithful God wanted it. Slowly he folded the letter and said, to the surprise of his startled neighbour, ‘All right, Kobus, tell the man he can have my shares if he takes the lot and pays cash.’
Far away in the south the bright spring sunshine flooded into our living room as we rose from prayer. My wife went into the kitchen to continue her work, I to my study to attend to the mail. There are some bills and a letter from the mining area we had once visited in the far north. I opened that first. I was about to push aside the cheque and read first what this infrequent writer had to say. At that moment my eye fell on the amount. I could hardly credit it. It was an amount of four figures in solid South African pounds.
In the kitchen my wife was standing by the stove gazing through the window at the windbreak of pines keeping watch at the boundary of the property. Soon she would have to leave this house..
I handed her the letter with the cheque…