Monday, June 8, 2009

Increasing Returns

There's a word that's been on nearly every mind lately. Very few things have been able to bump it from the spotlight of conversations and news broadcasts. "Recession" It seems that this word has us all spooked. Afraid to take risks we would have called "investments" just two years ago. We've gathered up all those investments, worried about the job market, struggled to pay bills... and maybe even worse. It is as these times that I begin to think of two stories from the Bible: 1- the parable of the talents (Matthew 25: 14-30), and 2- Jesus' advice about worrying (Matthew 6: 25-34).

But there's a lesser-known passage I'd rather share with you:
"Begin by being honest. Do honest people rob God? But you rob me day after day.
You ask, 'How have we robbed you?'
'The tithe and offering- that's how! And now you're under a curse - the whole lot of you - because you're robbing me. Bring your full tithe to the Temple treasury so there will be ample provisions in my Temple. Test me in this and see if I don't open up heaven itself to you and pour out blessings beyond your wildest dreams...' " Malachi 3: 8-10 (The Message)

The passage seems focused on monetary offerings to God. Sure, there may be churches that are really struggling financially because their members are struggling.

But when I read this, I thought about a different kind of offering. One that many churches have been in desperate need for years- volunteers. I read this passage and thought about what's most important to me, what do I "hoard"? The answer of course is my time- I'm very protective of it. I cherish my time off, I guard against things that cut into my free time, I pass up opportunities because "I'm too busy."

Are you anything like that? One of the highlights of the past year for me was volunteering to read with a 1st grader for 30 minutes every week. I found that it was often the best part of my week. Last month, I looked at my volunteer sign in sheet and counted the hours from September to May, expecting the sum of the hours I'd volunteered to be huge... twelve. 12 hours over about 250 days.

Do you think you're busy? Try taking a little time out every week to volunteer. When it's over you may be suprised with how little time it actually took to make a big difference. Give your time, and see if God doesn't "pour out blessings beyond your wildest dreams."

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