connie m. webster
August 21, 2016
Good Morning Shiloh:
Today is "Prove the Tithe Sunday”, and several months ago Deacon Charles Smith approached me and asked if I would consider doing a testimony about why I tithe, and without hesitation I said yes. Several days later I started to think about his request and my response, and my heart got a little heavy as I thought, “Why did he have to come to me and ask me to witness about “my love for, and vowed obedience to God?” God has been so good to me, I really should have gone to Deacon Smith (or someone) requesting an opportunity to witness about tithing in my Christian journey, and why I make tithing a committed part of my relationship with God.
If I gave the succinct version of why I tithe, I would report that I tithe:
1. In obedience to God
2. To honor Him, by fulfilling my obligation.
3. To escape condemnation, and
4. To enjoy God’s abundant blessings.
These are clearly the reasons that I tithe, but on this “Prove the Tithe Sunday” my testimony is a report of my life experiences where God has demonstrated His presence and his power and why I believe that He favors me for my obedience. First, I need to make it clear that I don’t believe in “luck” but “God’s Blessings”, nor do I believe in “Coincidence” but “Gods predestination” for my life. I have witnessed God’s faithfulness all through my life as I was reared by my grandparents, neither of whom was formally educated; in fact, an “X” was their official signature, and we were very, very poor. During those childhood years I learned “obedience to God” …and “I saw that He will make a way”. My grandfather did handyman’s work and my grandmother (a very sanctified and religious woman) washed and ironed clothes, or baked cakes, but it never resulted in enough money, so during that part of my life we experienced many hardships. Each month we were either without lights, gas, or the water was cut off, and on one occasion received an eviction notice, but through all of this, the one thing that stood out to me was the fact that even though there was so little money, my grandmother would take whatever money (more coins than bills) and separate out her tithes. So, as the smart young upstart that I was, I finally decided to have a talk with her, and I said “Madear, we don’t have much money and the bills are due, we need to keep the money that we have”, and her reply was “I don’t keep what belongs to God, and He’ll make a way for us somehow”. She always said it with such assuredness and confidence….and just as she said “God would always provide”. There were many times that we were without the comforts of electricity, heat, or we would have to get pails of water from our neighbors; and while not receiving any additional income, the Lord would touch our situation and out of the kindness of many, God did make a way. One very cold winter stands out in my mind, when we couldn’t pay the gas bill and the cut-off man came to our house, and when my grandmother went to the door he announced “I have notice to cut off your service, and my grandmother softly replied “I know”, so the man looked at her for a brief period and then he said “mam it’s too cold to be without heat….do you think you can get the money by the end of the week?” She started to cry and said “Yes Sir I’ll try”… and with extra orders for services (cooking and ironing) Madear paid her tithes, and we were able to pay the bill; and from all of this my grandmother replied “That’s the kind of God I serve”.
I accepted the Lord at the age of 12, but started working when I was 10, and I started my tithing relationship at that time, mostly because “Madear made me” and I’ve done it ever since. What is most important, I learned from my grandparents, that if one is obedient and faithful to God, and truly believe in His word, He will provide…. So as I stated at the start of this testimony, I don’t believe in “luck or coincidence”, and my 59 years of being obedient to God is grounded in that solid foundation laid by my grandparents who took me in as their own when they had so little; and just like the poor widow woman in the bible, God found great favor in their sacrifices to show love and to honor Him. It is clear to me, I was the blessing predestined for them and through his predestination for my life I have been very successful (blessed), and before their deaths I was able to buy them that house that they rented for years (but called their home) and paid their utilities and assisted with their health care. Further, I now provide parental care for my mother (with whom I grew close), I have purchased her home and take care of her monthly expenses. The word for me rings very clear “if you are faithful over a few things, God will make you successful over many”. Today, I can proudly say…since those early and very difficult life experiences and my trusting relationship with God, I consistently and joyfully give my tithes. I have never had a utility cut-off, nor an eviction notice, or a car repossessed, and having received four degrees, I have never had student loan debt…, I have given to the Lord as He requires in obedience to honor Him for all that He has done in my life and with my life. All that I am, or ever hope to be, I owe it all to God.
Brothers and sisters, I’ve put my testimony before you today, not to boast or to brag…but to speak to God’s goodness and His faithfulness, and I’ve done it as a witness to have you know that any sacrifice to God will be rewarded. If you’re struggling and always trying to make ends meet, or trying to find joy…. and you don’t tithe…Give obedience to God, and really trusting in His word, and making a sacrifice a chance. I strongly encourage you today, on Prove the Tithe Sunday, to complete a Prove the tithe pledge card available in the pews, or being distributed by the deacons here or seek a member of the Deacon’s Leadership Team in the Deacon’s Room in the Lower Level. If you were my patient, I adviser you on what was best for your health…If I was your financial planner…I’d give you my recommendations for financial success…so as your sister in Christ (one who has lived it and know it)…I advise you to tithe (your blessings will over flow and the joy of pleasing God is oh so comforting.)
Lastly, and before I take my seat, while I have told you about my strong commitment and endeavor to tithe, I must admit that Satan is always working to deter me. I sometimes have intrusive thoughts: you shouldn’t give that money to church. You can add to your savings account; or when my mother has a crisis there are recommendations to use my tithing money so that I won’t need to go to the bank, or when I get a little extra money back from taxes. Thoughts suggest that I’ve already tithed on the money when I earned it, so I don’t need to tithe again.
But to all of that, I’ve been able to say… God has been so good to me, and no matter what I do nor how I try…I can’t beat His giving. He’s been so Good.
Thank you for this time to share my story...but more importantly… make the tithing pledge, your life can and will change for the better.