(W&W) — We have all attended that sermon — the one that emphasizes the importance of tithing 10 percent of our income to the church. It often features the parable of the lady who gave her last coins, a PowerPoint presentation on how much good could be accomplished with your money, and then finally the presumptuous plate passing — the time that adults scramble to either write a check in the ten seconds you have before the plate reaches your neighbor, throw in their Aldi cart quarter and make a mental note to give online, or head to the nearest restroom.
One of the challenges of delivering or receiving a sermon detailing the importance of tithing is for the pastor’s words to be heard as an invitation to further God’s Kingdom and obey God’s commands instead of perceiving the sermon to be a guilt-trip to help line the church’s pockets.
Over 2,300 verses in the Bible reference money and possessions and the way God calls his people to use them. However, Jesus did not call his disciples to solely hand him cash and go about their day. Instead, he called them to give sacrificially — not just money but also their time to spread the good word. As Jesus put it in Matthew 23: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices — mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”
Poet Henry David Thoreau once said, “It is not enough to be busy, so are ants. The question is what are we busy about?” A healthy balance between work, family, kid’s activities, education, cleaning, running errands, and yard work can seem impossible. The thought of giving time to a charity, to help others, or to serve the church can seem not only daunting but impossible. However, God has called his children to serve one another sacrificially. As Paul wrote: “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13).
Spending Time with God While Serving Time
On August 16, 2007, Chuck Denham broke into his ex-girlfriend’s home in Ottumwa, Iowa, and entered her bedroom while she was sleeping. Denham had previously threatened the life of his former girlfriend, Sheri Locke. An attack ensued and Sheri wound up shooting Denham.
Locke called 911 after Denham was shot and he was rushed to the University of Iowa Hospital, where he died the following day. When authorities arrived to Locke’s home, she was immediately arrested and later charged with first-degree murder. Locke remained in jail for over a year as she awaited trial.
On Oct. 10, 2008, the jury found Locke not guilty of murder and she was released from incarceration and returned to the community who had assumed her guilt. During her time in jail, Locke grew closer to the Lord and leaned on his faithfulness to provide god despite her circumstances.
“God was very faithful in his promise to restore my reputation and give me jubilee. He has restored me professionally, personally, and financially,” shared Locke.
Locke shared that before the hardest trial of her life, being accused of murder and jailed away from friends and family, that she would tithe monetarily to her church.
“Once you are imprisoned, time is truly no longer your own. You are told when to eat, go to bed, read a book. God showed me through that time that he is in charge of my schedule, not me. That is when I realized that giving money wasn’t all I needed to do for the Kingdom,” said Locke.
It was then that Locke was called to dedicate the rest of her life to help others see God during the roughest times of their lives.
“I was asked by the Lord to start Blessings Soup Kitchen in 2014. At the time I had exactly $300 in my account. But the Holy Spirit has a way of multiplying when you are working on God’s projects,” said Locke.
Locke, who was previously a full-time antique wholesaler, used her eye for design to create a space for the hungry that looked and felt like a nice restaurant. Currently, Blessings Soup Kitchen serves around 200 people a hot meal each day and numerous weekly volunteers to help cook, serve food, and clean.
“When I say volunteers, I mean 50-70 volunteers a week. A number early on I would have not thought possible. Feeding on average 200 mouths a day, relying purely on donations is something really special,” said Locke. “Not once have we ever run out of money and the last spoonful of food we had has gone to the last person needing a meal that day hundreds of times. God is good and faithful.’”
Locke volunteers at the soup kitchen full-time but has kept her antique business on the back burner to provide an income for her family.
“Although tithing my time at Blessings can be seen as sacrificial giving, I still believe that God calls each and every one of us to tithe 10 percent of our income. I have come to believe that when times are tough, the more and God will reward your trust in him,” said Locke. “Just yesterday I got a call from a client who ordered a semi of architectural pieces to be hauled to California of our choice and our price. It was completely unexpected — so like I said, you can’t outgive God.”