SPIRITUAL PRACTICE 1 - INSPIRED GIVING
Someone very wise once said: "If struggling were the way to get there, we would all be there by now."
"Being the Flow of God's Great Good" is our theme for the next five weeks as we explore six Spiritual Practices that will absolutely get us out of the struggle and take us "there." And where is "there?" "There" is that place where we live AS the flow.
I see 3-4 areas in our lives where we have the greatest amount of struggle, where we regularly don't live AS the flow. What do you suppose they are?
But, my friends, struggling with relationships, health, purpose and money and "Being the Flow of God's Great Good" are incompatible; they are mutually exclusive. You can't experience them both at the same time, just like you can't go north and south at the same time.
Edwene Gaines in 4 Spiritual Laws of Prosperity, writes: "Let me tell you something. God is not glorified by poverty. God is not glorified by illness. God is not glorified when you feel guilty or unworthy. God is not glorified when you run around playing the victim. God is glorified when you stand up and acknowledge who you are and claim your birthright. And who are you? You are a divine being, an expression of God, the Most High, a person who deserves to have every good thing that life has to offer."a
So it's one or the other. You are either glorifying God or not. You are either struggling or you are being the flow. And, my question for you this morning is -- WHICH ONE DO YOU WANT? Struggle or flow? Then, the second question is, ARE YOU READY TO DO WHAT IT TAKES?
What I know is that the six Spiritual Practices we will explore will take us out of the struggle and into the flow!
Here's something really important about these six practices. They must be practiced CONSISTENTLY AND SIMULTANEOUSLY.
I know a lot of people who practice some of them some of the time, but not all of them all of the time, and then say the ones they do practice don't work.
So are you ready for the first of our six Spiritual Practices? Well, then, here we go!
SWALLOW THE BIG FROG
Prosperity Guru Edwene Gaines always says, "If you have to swallow a jar of frogs, it's best to eat the big one first." So, that is what we will do today as we will explore our first, and sometimes most challenging, yet most liberating, concept of being the flow -- the concept of being an INSPIRED GIVER.
I have a ministerial confession: I fudged on the title because I didn't want to scare anyone away today. By being an inspired giver, I specifically mean being a TITHER!
Here's a rhetorical question -- no need to answer aloud. How many of you have really bad feelings about tithing?
Negative feelings, connotations, etc. abound around even the word. Defenses go up, hair on the nape of the neck stands up and many people run - mentally and emotionally, if not physically -- out of the room when the word "tithe" is mentioned.
In fact, a young man went to seminary, and after he graduated, he wanted to get some real world experience before going into the active ministry, so he decided to enroll in the police academy. During one of his exercises, his instructor said to the class, "Tell me, students, how do you quickly disperse a crowd?"
The young seminary student shot his arm up with great confidence and said, "Sir, you ask people to tithe!"
So, poke your neighbor and say, "Now don't go unconscious on me!"
Tithing is a spiritual practice just as much as prayer, meditation, service, forgiveness, compassion, but we tend to want to skip it.
Before we explore what I consider to be the TWO main reasons we want to avoid the subject altogether and why doing that does not serve us, let me briefly clarify THREE things. . .
First, so we are on the same page, let me define tithing: Tithing is giving 10% (literally!) of all we receive to the source or sources of our spiritual inspiration and nourishment.
Second, why 10%? What's magical about 10%? Don't know! Perhaps it's based on agricultural reasons - leaving 10% of the soil unplanted kept the soil healthy.
We do know that it's biblical. The first recorded tithe in the Bible is discussed in Genesis 14, when Abraham took his tithe to his spiritual teacher.b We are not told why 10%; only that it is.
Edwene's explanation is as good as any I've heard. She suggests that God knew we wouldn't all be great mathematicians and wanted to make it easy for us to calculate. It doesn't get much easier that 10%. Can you imagine the math required to tithe, say, 9.7% or 11.3%!
Third -- Can't I tithe of my service instead of my money? Tithing of service helps spiritualize your attitudes toward work, while tithing of your treasure helps spiritualize your attitude about money. But doing one in lieu of the other would be like exercising very hard on the right side of the body and expecting the left side to be strengthened as well. It just doesn't work that way!
Now to why we want to avoid it. I see two big roadblocks for us around tithing. And one or both may be operating in us.
1. RELIGIOUS BAGGAGE
1. Religious Baggage
We object to tithing because we are carrying around religious baggage about WHERE we have been told we are supposed to tithe. How many of you were beaten over the head when you were growing up with the idea that you had to tithe to your church? Or, if you grew up in the Jewish tradition, you simply paid your "dues" to the synagogue, right?!
Catherine Ponder writes: "Many people have a psychological block against tithing because so many theologians have stressed what tithing would do for the church rather than what it could do for the individual. When you look up the great tithing promises in the Bible, such as that given in Malachi, you find that the Bible says that the individual who tithes is prospered. . . . "As you tithe, so you prosper." When you give consistently to God's work, you open the way to receive consistently in your own.
Tithers give to God's work. Or, put another way, they give to the source or sources of their spiritual inspiration, because to inspire others to know God is, most purely, God's work. Think back to my definition of a tithe: 10% given to the source or sources of your spiritual inspiration and nourishment.
Does that mean that tithing must be to a church? Does that mean that I am telling you that you must tithe to this church? Absolutely not! You may choose to tithe to A church if you are spiritually nourished by it. You may choose to tithe to THIS church if you are spiritually nourished by us, but that is entirely your choice.
The spiritual practice of tithing says you tithe to your source or sources of spiritual inspiration and nourishment. How can you know when you are being spiritually fed? Spiritual food is that which inspires you, lifts you up and lets you remember who you are. It gives you a spiritual boost, a feeling of hope and inspiration. It brings you joy!
Let go, right here, right now, of any old baggage about WHERE to tithe, realizing (perhaps for the first time) that the decision of WHERE is yours and yours only. No one else can tell you where you are spiritual fulfilled.
2. THE BELIEF IN LACK
2. The Belief in Lack
Thinking about tithing our money -- thinking about giving 10% of our financial good away -- gets to the core of our deepest fears! It taps right into the trance of scarcity that many of us live in. That trance that says "there isn't enough!"
And, yet, the Bible tells us, over and over and over again, that we are not meant to live in scarcity but rather we are meant to live in abundance, to have what it is we need and desire here in this human experience.
We are told:
Ask, believing, and ye shall receive.c
Fear not, little flock, it is the father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.d
The kingdom of heaven is at hand.e
I have come so that you might have life and have it more abundantly.f
Call unto me, and I will show you great and mighty things that ye know not of.g
. . . . just to quote a few.
Most of us don't really believe these promises and so we live in the trance of scarcity. And when we are living in that trance . . .
It sure doesn't feel like the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.
It sure doesn't feel as if it is God's good pleasure to give it to us.
It certainly doesn't feel as if we are meant to have life and have it more abundantly.
And then, living from the trance, we scratch and claw and hoard and restrict -- and we perpetuate the trance.
Bernard Lietaer, author of The Future of Money, and co-designer of the single European currency system, has studied and operated in the international currency system for decades. He says: "If a society is afraid of scarcity, it will actually create an environment in which it manifests well-grounded reasons to live in fear of scarcity. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy!"h
The Truth is the Kingdom is given to us, but we must break the trance.
The Truth is the abundant life is readily available to us, but we must break the trance.
The Truth is great and mighty things that we know not of are just waiting to come into our experience, but we must . . . what? . . . break the trance.
If we want to BE THE FLOW OF GOD'S GREAT GOOD, then we must break the trance of scarcity and have an abundance consciousness.
Do you think God has an abundance consciousness! I know She does. Just look around you at nature and the abundant beauty that was given to us.
Tithing is the first of our six practices (and the big frog) that breaks the trance of scarcity and moves us in to a true abundance consciousness, which then allows the promises of the Bible to become real in our lives.
This is a bold statement, but here goes - If you want true prosperity, you must put God FIRST in your finances!
Not because God needs you to do that, but because by putting God first in your finances you acknowledge that God is your Source and by acknowledging that God is your Source, you develop a true abundance consciousness!
But I can still hear the wheels turning in some of your heads: Questions such as, "Isn't it irresponsible for me to tithe when I can barely pay my bills?" or "If I tithe, how will I be able to feed myself or my children?"
As I hope you can see now, those questions are coming from the self-perpetuating trance of scarcity. The trance that says, "If I give away 10%, I won't have enough."
But not only does the Bible promise abundance, it makes a very specific promise about tithing. It very clearly and very plainly states that when we tithe, we will have abundance. In fact, there is only one time in the Bible that God says, "put me to the test" and it is around tithing. At Malachi 3:10 God says to us: "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room to receive it."i
And, if you ask me, that is the promise of all promises!
I would like you to visualize how abundant we really are. Imagine that you have 10 baseball caps. Now place nine of these on one table and one of them on another table. That's 10%. Now imagine you have 10 big canvas totes. Place nine of these on one table and one of them on the other table. That's 10%. Now imagine you have 10 baseballs. Place nine of them on one table and one on another table. That's 10%. Now imagine you have 10 coffee mugs. Place nine of them on one table and one of them on the other table. That's 10%. Do you see how little 10% really is and how much is still leftover?
On God's table you now have 4 items, that's 10%. On your table you have 36 items.
90% with God goes farther than 100% without!
So, being an inspired giver -- being a Tither -- is the big frog for many of us, and that's why I wanted to talk about it today. I urge you to take Edwene' advice and not look at it too long. As she says, "That big old frog is not gonna get any prettier."
Don't overthink it. Don't analysis it. Don't try to work it in your budget! As Nike says -- Just do it! Just make tithing your first of our six spiritual practices, trust that the Scripture is true, stand on that promise and watch with wonder -- as many of us have -- as the windows of heaven open up to you!
Father, Mother, God, I give my tenth to God and reap a hundred-fold increase. I always have something to give, and I give it. As I give consistently, I open the way to receive consistently. I freely give my tenth to God's work and workers, and I receive a hundred-fold increase. I am receiving. I am receiving now. I am receiving all the good God has for me now. I am permanently prosperous. Tithing spells success. I freely, joyously and enthusiastically give my tenth to God, and I reap a mighty blessing. All that the Universe has for me now comes to me speedily, richly and freely. I am the flow of God's Great Good! And so it is, and so it shall ever be. Amen
aEdwene Gaines 4 Spiritual Laws of Prosperity, pg. 25
hBernard Lietaer, The Future of Money