By Martin E. Willoughby, Jr.
A number of years ago when I was in law school, I had a professor who was a Believer. She shared an insight one day on faith that has stuck with me. She pointed out that we often talk about tithing as it relates to money; however, we rarely talk about tithing and our time. She shared how this idea had helped her to think differently about the use of her time. She was very intentional about how she dedicated a portion of her time to faith activities. The point was not creating a legalistic new standard for “time tithing,” but to consider more about how we go about our daily life and how we establish our priorities.
I enjoy author Randy Alcorn’s books, particularly The Treasure Principle. In the book, he reminds us that when it comes to our finances, God owns everything we have. We are just stewards of whatever assets we have for short period of time. As the expression goes, “You can’t take it with you.” Thinking about money that way can be challenging, but ultimately very rewarding. I find that it brings great peace to people when they reframe their thinking about who “owns” their stuff. I regularly see the physical toll it takes on people who center their lives on making and keeping their money.
As I reflect on this idea, it strikes me that it goes further than just our stuff. As followers of Jesus, we recognize that our brief time here on earth is not really under our control either. I know for me, the process of surrendering my life to Christ is a constant struggle. I want CONTROL. I want to be constantly behind the wheel directing my life. The Christian band Third Day in the song Offering shares an inspirational word on this topic. The chorus states in part:
“This is my offering to You, God
And I will give You My life
For it’s all I Have to give
Because You gave Your life for me.”
I think about that song a lot. Christ paid the ultimate price for us. What do I give in return? Do I say a fleeting prayer in the midst of an overscheduled day? Do I try to cram in a few minutes of Bible study? Do I even attempt to keep the Sabbath holy? Whew! The To-Do list of things to be a “good” Christian can be overwhelming. I don’t think that is the way it is supposed to be.
I believe God cares less about my Christian checklist than whether He is my first love. I believe He wants All of me. Not the crumbs and leftovers. When Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind,” (Luke 10:27), it seems to me that He is clear on what our priorities should be.
I am the first to admit that it can be a challenge to deeply and passionately love someone who is not physically present and that you have never met. For me, it is when I reflect on the true hopelessness apart from Christ that I am driven to the foot of the Cross with a grateful heart. That leads me to want to spend time in prayer and study of His word. Not out of a sense of duty, but instead love and humility. I enjoy being around people who truly love Jesus. They inspire me to foster that kind of loving relationship. They challenge me to offer the only thing I have to offer to Him—my life.