« FöregåendeFortsätt »
tions, but even then each individual finds it necessary to trust the spirit of wisdom manifesting in his own heart, for there are no rules or precedents that can be followed in all details. This is as it should be, for it keeps active judgment, faith, love, sympathy and will. Diligent study of the underlying laws of spiritual giving will help one to exercise these faculties in accord with law. If we follow the spirit of wisdom, we will not give to anything that is contrary to the teachings of Jesus, but every penny will be spent in the furtherance of the good news of life which he proclaimed and the Brotherhood which it is his mission to establish among all who become Sons through him.
There is a double joy in spiritual giving; first, that which attends the laying of the gift upon the altar as it is placed in the treasury; then the joy of sharing with others our share of bounty. Out of the Lord's storehouse we pay our debt of love and justice, and the knowledge that we are meeting the law is one of the blessings of keeping a treasury unto the Lord. Justice comes first; then generosity.
Giving is a part of worship. Even the heathen recognize this, for always we find them coming with offerings to worship before their idols. All ages and dispensations of the revelation of God to man have been alike in requiring gifts as part of worship. In this age more is required, even the giving of oneself with all that one is and has. This is a privilege that carries with it immeasurable benefits, for it looses one from the personal life, unifies him with the universal and so opens him on every side within and without to the inflow and out flow of the life and love and favor and grace and bounty of God. This is the blessed result of faithfulness in the exercise of the grace of giving.
“Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first-fruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”—Prov. 3:9, 10.
(EDITORIAL Note- In connection with the foregoing article on "The Grace of Giving" our attention has been called to a demonstration of the law therein described by a Methodist congregation in Geneva, New York. The article was written by Mary Dewhurst for the "Outlook." The following extracts will give the reader an idea of how this demonstration was carried out.] THE CONVICTION OF A SKEPTIC
STRANGER in Geneva, New York, notices first the massive gray-stone Methodist church, which dominates the main street and throws its English Gothic tower skyward with a valiant air. It was built by working people,
and so recklessly built that the congregation found itself saddled with a building debt of $82,000, a weekly budget of $230, and an income of less than one hundred dollars. In two years the debt has been cut to $49,000, and the weekly income is nearly $300. The church has more than a thousand members, of whom 350 are "tithers." A tither is a person who sets aside one-tenth of his income for Christian activities. These Geneva Methodist tithers are doing more than pay for their church; they are pioneers in a financial policy which bids fair to spread through Methodism.
When the Centenary Commission of the Methodist Church, the organization which is preparing for the centenary of its Home and Foreign Missions, asked me to go to Geneva to write the history of its Tithing and Stewardship Movement, I was scarcely enthusiastic. I doubted if I would find much of a “story," and, with war-giving and war-saving in mind, I doubted if I would be sympathetic toward what I found.
Nevertheless I was curious to talk to these people who found it possible to give so much in the face of rising prices, war charities, and added taxes. How did they My directions led me first to the town's principal shoe store, where I asked for Mr. Cassatt.
"We tithers,” he said, proudly, turning to me after waiting on a customer, "don't feel that we begin to give until after we have returned our tenth to the storehouse. I've already paid in $700 on the church debt, and have pledged a thousand more in ten years. By that time I hope to wipe off the $2,500 mortgage on my own home.”
I tried him with a mean attack.
"Doesn't your wife ever tell you that you could own your own house sooner if you didn't pay so much on the church?"
“No, she doesn't. She's not that kind," he answered, promptly. Humiliated, I went elsewhere to seek understanding.
Mrs. Silver, a young and pretty widow, lives with her four children in a shabby little house overlooking the big frozen lake. She was introduced to me as one who had just joined the Tithers' Association and wanted to give one-tenth of the dollar a day she earned by sewing bags for the near-by flour-mill.
"I guess I can give one bag and trust Him to stretch the other nine," she explained. When I spoke of fuel and food and clothes, she agreed, smilingly, but said:
"There's always money spent foolishly which could be better spent by the Lord, and it ain't right to rob him of what's his.”
I went on down the frosty lake road to the home of Mrs. Silver's neighbor, Mrs. Hardy.
"What do I think of tithing?" she repeated, as she brought me into the neat, warm kitchen, “Why, if I didn't tithe I'd be picked as clean as a bird. I've got to tithe to keep goin'."
"But what does your husband say about it?"
"My husband is a drinkin' man, as I guess you've heard. He says I sha'n't touch a cent of his money, so
I take a tenth of what is left after I've paid for food and rent; sometimes it's only five cents, sometimes it's ten, but whatever it is don't belong to me.'
When I returned to the church, I found a meeting of a group of ministers from near-by parishes, gathered to learn the technique of putting tithing before their congregations. There were sixteen, most of them young fellows with bluff ways and honest faces. They came from farming communities and had the hard task of persuading the New York farmer that a tenth of his produce did not belong to him. I was amused at the naive way they ran business and religion together, and at first I was genuinely shocked at the familiar way in which they addressed the Deity. Their homely speech seemed blasphemous until I grasped the fact that no disrespect was intended and that they but put into practical expression the philosophy of pantheism.
“A man looks up into Jesus' face and says, 'Lord, I surrender; all to thee I owe.' And the Lord says, 'If you mean business, what are you going to give?'
"The Lord's no fool. We get our business sense 'from him, along with every other good thing."
"Why wouldn't the Lord take care of the tither? He knows he gets his money that way to carry on his work. If he owns a tenth of a business, he'll see that it don't suffer.'
When they knelt for prayer, I found I liked their “Amens” and “Yes, Lords” and “Hallelujahs” chiming across the speaker's invocation. It all had a lively sense of intercession and emotional validity.
Later, some of them told of their experiences, especially of the rewards reserved for those who clung to their stewardship.
“You'll never find a tither in the poorhouse," one said, and another, "I'm a parson on six hundred a year; and I found I had to tithe to get out of debt."
One told of a man in Syracuse who tithed regularly when the tenth was only ten dollars a month; he prospered until it grew to a hundred dollars. This looked too big to relinquish, so he gave up the practice. Disaster followed, until he was brought to poverty and humility. He began tithing again, and now he is on his feet financially and spiritually.
“I want you to hear the story of Mrs. Gordan,” said one young minister. “She has a masterful, loud-spoken way about her, which made some of us in the church think she ruled the house. I guess this story shows who is master. She told it to me last night after prayermeeting.
"•"Gordan," I says to my husband, "this week you'll have to take your tithe money or go hungry. There's nothing in the house to eat, and there's no money to buy anything."
“«“Wife," he says, “I guess we'll go hungry."
"But, husband, the Lord means you to work, and you can't work if you don't eat."
"*"Have we enough to buy bread?” he asks.
“““Yes, there's enough for bread and maybe butter, and there are some potatoes left from that bushel last week, but that's all there is."
'"All right; this week we'll eat bread and butter and potatoes, but we ain't a-goin to touch the Lord's money."
“And just the next day the postman brought us a letter, and in it was five dollars that we had loaned two years before and given up for a bad debt.'"
But the best story came from Syracuse, where a manufacturing concern has put the tithe into its articles of incorporation. It is a business for making dish-cloths, and has five directors, four of them brothers; they employ about seventy-five people. There is a clause in their constitution that ten per cent of the profits must go for “Kingdom work” before any dividends are paid. The business prospered, and the directors wanted to expand with new machinery and additional capital. They went to the bank and asked to borrow $25,000.