One Sabbath during the sermon I presented a challenge to my congregation. In addition to returning a faithful tithe, I asked them to prayerfully consider adding 1 percent to the current amount they were giving for offering.
In fact, one of the girls in my class, who later became my wife, could out-arm-wrestle me. I was more interested in running races because I had a better chance of winning.
One Sabbath during the sermon I presented a challenge to my congregation. In addition to returning a faithful tithe, I asked them to prayerfully consider adding 1 percent to the current amount they were giving for offering. Accepting my challenge meant if they were currently giving no offering, they would begin giving 1 percent. If they were giving 5 percent, that would become 6 percent, and so on. I committed to the challenge and added 1 percent to the offering I was giving. Fifteen years later I am still giving the extra percentage and I have not missed the money.
Malachi chapter three records a challenge God has given us, although He does not specify an amount like I did. In verse eight God reveals that the people have been robbing Him of tithes and offerings. Then in verse ten God lays out the challenge. “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such a blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.” That is a strong challenge, with a commitment from God attached. God promises to pour out more blessing than we need if we will first be faithful to Him.
One of my pastoral colleagues faced financial challenges early in ministry when he was raising his young family. There really was not any money left over after returning a faithful tithe and paying the necessary bills. But he was determined to give an offering as well, so he made a commitment to God. He laid out a challenge for himself and accepted it. His challenge was to begin giving a 1 percent offering each month, increasing it by another 1 percent the next month until his offerings equaled his 10 percent tithe.
That first month when the tithe, 1 percent offering, and all bills were paid, there was actually a little money left over, something that had never happened before. The next month something similar happened when the 2 percent offering was given. Every month when the offering increased the budget was met.
What might God be challenging you to do? If your offering percent is zero, try giving 1 percent so God can keep His promise to you. Are you already giving 10 or 15 percent or more for offering? Would you accept a challenge to increase that amount? Remember, when God promises to pour out a blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it, He does not want us to build bigger barns wherein to store the increase. He pours out the blessing so we can use it to bless others.
Are you up for a challenge you have a great chance of winning? Will you test God’s promise to you by being faithful to Him? In fact, God has already promised that you will be successful.
Gene A. Hall is an associate director for Stewardship, Planned Giving & Trust Services at the Michigan Conference.