Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine (Prov 3:9-10).
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher (Luke 6:37-40).
In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ (Acts 20:35).
Who has first given to me, that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine (Job 41:11).
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness (Matt 23:23-28).
This idea comes courtesy of my brother James, who passed on the idea from his friend Kent. Upon hearing it, I feel like it has great potential. Indeed, it challenges me personally, and I would like to pass on the challenge to you! You’re welcome!
We have all heard countless sermons on the tithe. But this article is not about what we think of when we hear the word “tithe”: it is not a tenth of your monetary income, but a tenth of the greatest, most vital and basic resource any person is ever given.
This is about tithing your time.
Time is a gift from God. You do not know how much of it God will give you.
Because of this, the Psalmist implored God in Ps 90, “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Paul, in Ephesians, urges the people of God to “make the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
What would happen if you were to devote 2.4 hours out of every day to God’s explicit use? In a seven-day week, that comes to almost 17 hours.
What would your life be like if you devoted 17 hours every week to God?
This is something we at Missouri State actually tell our student leaders to expect. When we total up the hours we expect them to commit every week, it comes to 15-20 hours. Most of this includes things in the ministry they’re already doing before they become student leaders: participating in small group, participating in our weekly large group, participating in hangouts and events and the like. Really, we’re only adding about 5 hours per week to what they already do without being leaders: preparing a small group, doing one-on-ones with students, stuff like that.
But even then, it is easy to get distracted. Sometimes our regular labor for God becomes routine. It ceases to really be for God and becomes just what we do. This happens when we lose focus.
What I’m saying is, it is easy for even those commitments to no longer be committed to God. For God, doing what he asks is not always enough. You see this come up a lot in the Prophets, like in Amos 5:21 and Isaiah 1, where God says explicitly, “I hate your feasts and sacrifices. I won’t accept them.” Why? Because the hearts of the people are not for Him; they are doing it as a ritual. It has become vain.
It’s the same with the Pharisees in Matt 23. They rigorously observe God’s commands, yet they are not filled with God’s life. They are dead; hypocrites of the worst order.
Did you know God feels the same way about those who only serve Him while in church? It’s the exact same principle: people doing what God has commanded, not out of love or dedication to Him, but because it’s the ritual they’re supposed to do.
So, if devoting your labor to God isn’t enough, what can you do?
Why not spend a good portion of that time you’re devoting to God in prayer?
Think about it this way: How radically different would your walk with God be if you spent the first 2 hours and 24 minutes of each day—the firstfruits of your time—in conversation with Him?
Maybe you can’t do 2.4 hours in prayer each day and 17 hours laboring for God each week. How different would your walk with God be if you spent your first hour of every day in conversation with Him and spent the other ten laboring for Him?
Think of how different your life with Christ can be.
I’m a pastor. I spend at least 40 hours of my labor every week to God. But I don’t spend 17 hours of every week in prayer to God.
Personally, it’s a scary thought. It requires me going to bed earlier so I can get up two and a half hours earlier, so I can spend that time in prayer.
But when I look at how different my ministry and my whole life would be, I can’t help but be excited!
So here’s the challenge:
In the month of August, spend the first two weeks getting up an hour earlier and praying. Walk with God, talk with God: do whatever you need to do to spend that time with God.
See how much that changes your life.
And after two weeks of 1 hour, add another hour.
And then the rest.
I’m going to do it.
I dare you to join me.