Read: Isaiah 1:11-15 |
Allow me pose a question. When we tithe of our time, talent, treasure to God, are we following a rule, or is it a routine or is it a religious ritual?
It is important to know the basis of our motivation to give – “rule”, “routine” or “ritual”. Our key verses in Isaiah 1:11-15 notes that God will not honor our gift when it is not given with the right heart of devotion to Him. Subsequently, God desires our giving to be an act of conscious worship.
Spiritually, rules, routines and rituals serve as a firm foundation for our growth and development. For the next few weeks, we will explore how each one applies to our Stewardship.
A rule is a prescribed guide for conduct or action. Good rules link to a value or reason for doing the rule.
Some examples are:
Natural world – Be Kind, Show Respect, Be truthful, Follow the speed limit
Spiritual world – Accept Christ, Repent and confess our sins; love the Lord with all our heart, love our neighbor as ourselves
A routine is a sequence of actions regularly followed by force of habit or subconsciously. Routines can evolve into rules and cause anxiety when not followed.
Some examples are:
Natural world – Eat dessert after eating all our supper, Drink coffee, Take the same route to/from work or school every day
Spiritual world – Reading a daily devotional, Bringing Bible to church, Sitting in our favorite spot in church, praying before eating
A ritual is a routine with a meaning and purpose done in accordance with social custom, normal protocol or religious law and are sometimes referred to as a tradition.
Some examples are:
Natural world – Thanksgiving Day turkey, Birthday party, Family mealtime, National anthem before a game
Spiritual world – Lord’s Supper, Prayer, Baptism, Christening
Rules, routines and rituals, provide us a roadmap to action. While we may say, variety is the spice of life, more often we live with a set learned rules, routines and rituals. Applied correctly, they act as an anchor for what is good and righteous. Ignored or not present and we can drift from sin to chaos to depravity and back again. [link]
The story that is told of about a young missionary sent overseas many years ago helps point out the danger of falling into thoughtless rules that become routines and evolve into rituals. Upon arrival, the coordinator assigned Herbert Jackson a car that would not start without a push. After pondering his problem he thought it a blessing to have a car at all. Therefore, he devised a plan. He went to the school near his home, got permission to take some children out of class, and had them push his car to start it. Routinely as he made his rounds, he would either park on a hill or leave the engine running. He used this ingenious ritual for two years. Ill health forced the Jackson family to leave, and a new missionary came to that station. When Jackson proudly began to explain his routine for getting the car started, the new man began looking under the hood. Before the explanation was complete, the new missionary interrupted, “Why, Dr. Jackson, I believe the only trouble is this loose cable.” He gave the cable a twist, stepped into the car, pushed the switch, and to Jackson’s astonishment, the engine roared to life. For two years, needless trouble had become routine. The power was there all the time. Only a loose connection kept Jackson from putting that power to work.
We have to be careful that like his car, we don’t need the Pastor to jump-start our faith each Sunday when it comes time to give back to God. To get our hearts right, we must examine the rules we follow and the routines we endure which might create a loose connection with our faith. We have to avoid mechanically dropping our offering in the plate each Sunday and instead consciously seek the opportunity to give back to God with our time, talent and/or treasure whenever God moves our hearts.
Note: In two weeks, Part 2 of Is Tithing a Rule, Routine or Ritual For You?
A.. Let’s do a Word association exercise. I will say a word and you write in the comment box the first things that come to mind:
B. How would you rank these in order of importance in your life? Do you think the order is consistent with everyone?
A. How do you arrive at what amount and when to give of your time, talent or treasure to God?
B. How much do the national news stories of errant Pastor’s misusing God’s money affect what you decide to put in the offering plate?
A. As you have become a more mature Christian, are there any rules, routines or rituals you followed that now do not match up to the Word of God? What have you done about it?
B. As you have become a more mature Christian, are there any rules, routines or rituals that you have never followed but feel convicted to follow.