Picture it – in the early 1800’s a family consisting of a husband, a wife, 6 kids, and a small farm house with a chicken coop out behind the house and rickety old barn off to the side. The Mr. is out plowing a field with their one sway-back horse plodding along trying his best to pull the small plow hitched to him. The hot sun is beating down on the farmers weathered old hat and dirty shirt. Sweat pours down his spine and covers his face. With an old dirty rag he swipes it across his brow and takes a long swallow of the luke warm water from the mason jar his wife filled.
The Mrs. is sweating over the black wood stove while stirring the vegetables around and around in the big cast iron pot. The pile of chopped chicken parts are set aside to add at just the right time. Glancing out the open door she sees the kids playing in the dirt with the weeds stomped down flat around the old swing with it’s splintered seat, that hangs from the one and only big old Oak tree. She can hear their giggles, and smiles.
Sunday morning comes and dressed in their best the family loads into the flat-bed wagon hitched behind their one and only horse and they head for the church down the road a piece. It will take a couple of hours to get there so they’ve left before the sun is fully up.
Greetings are made to neighbors, that live five and ten miles away. Hands are shaken and the Mrs. hands a small gift of a hand crocheted baby hat to the young Mrs who’s pregnant with her first child. There will be no bake sale after church today. The summer’s heat would melt the cake icing. The church steeple stands boldly and proud on the front of the roof of the little log church. The bell suddenly rings out announcing church is ready to begin and all enter and take their seats on the long wooden pews.
A short sermon is given and prayers are lifted for the health of those who are sick and thanking God for His provisions and that old Elmer’s cow didn’t die after all. The pastor asks that the tithe be taken explaining this is the way we honor the Lord.
Wait a minute! Did He say, “Honor the Lord?” Really? From most pulpits I’ve heard from it’s a “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” I’ll give you my tithe, God, but I fully expect to get more back. You mean it isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme? The testimonies I’ve heard all sound like, “I started tithing and wow, all of a sudden I got a check in the mail for five thousand dollars.”
Can this old country pastor, who rides 35 miles to preach a 20 minute sermon be correct? Yes, the Lord commanded a tenth and we’re suppose to give it to further the kingdom and spread the gospel but are we honoring God by doing so? Nahhh, that can’t be right. God doesn’t need our money. Maybe we do it because we might get suddenly rich, or because we don’t want to look like cheap skates when the offering plate is set before us, or maybe we only give a little because the bills are due.
The Mr. has a small burlap bag in the back of his wagon. After the offering plate has been passed with him handing it off with nothing to put in it, and the church service is dismissed, he steps outside and motions the pastor to his wagon. With a smile that will lite up a room he proudly reaches in and retrieves the wiggling burlap sack. “Pastor, this is all I have to offer the Lord today,” he states while handing the sack with one chicken inside to the pastor. The pastor thanks him profusely and takes the sack inside.
The wife beams up at her husband with pride and says, “let’s head home,” and the family piles into the wagon and with a song in their heart makes their way across the dry arid land.
Was God honored with one chicken or was the tithes dropped in the offering plate more honorable? You be the judge.