Every summer when I was growing up my family would attend church camp. This was a weeklong campout with church services morning, afternoon and evening. Some were prayer services, some were Bible studies, and some were singing and preaching. Some years we camped in a tent, one year we stayed in a little cottage, and some years we used a camper. As a kid, these annual events were natural to me, even though one had to walk to a block building for restrooms and showers and there was a lot of church every day. The camp had three fantastic attractions as far as my childhood thinking was concerned. There was a playground complete with monkey bars, merry-go-round, swings, and a slide where I spent a lot of energy and free time. There was a snack stand where you could get pop, candy, ice cream, and after evening services, hamburgers and French fries. Finally, there was a bookstore that also had several religious-themed toys for kids. I have a large number of happy memories from Fairmount Church Camp that were accrued over the years. I was even ordained there as an adult.

One memory that has never left me was when I was about eight and was sent to children’s church for the afternoon session. My dad came and found me to make sure that I had some money for the offering. It was at this moment when my dad taught me the principle of tithing. In case you don’t know, the tithe is ten percent of your earning profits that one gives to God not out of obligation but because of gratitude and as a way to both learn how to manage money better, and to learn to be free from greed and anxiety about money. Tithing is the act of worship that demonstrates one’s full trust in the Lord for one’s needs. Dad taught me that one does not give to God with an expectation of getting something in return, but that one gives to God because God wants us to learn to be like He is. God is generous, forgiving, kind, loving, good, holy, merciful, and so much more. My father taught me that while we can learn ideas, we become what we practice doing. Well, while my Dad was explaining this to me and giving me some money since I didn’t have a job when I was eight, another little boy whose name I still remember to this day but won’t say, had the audacity to ask my dad for money too! My dad gave him two cents. That’s right two copper coins. I sat through that kid’s service fuming about that boy taking money from my family. As you can see I had really learned what my dad had been teaching me—not! Worse than that, over time and in some cases, a couple more years, I would have this thought pester me, “We’d be two cents richer if not for that kid.”

I’m glad to say that I eventually learned the principle of the lesson Dad tried to teach me that day and it saddens me when I encounter adults who are in bondage to the kind of tight-fisted thinking that hounded me for a few years. It saddens me because they give in order to get something in return. It grieves me that some people think churches are just looking to get their money. The good ones aren’t about that at all. The offerings are used to further ministry and other acts of charity and kindness as well as pay the inevitable bills no one escapes from in this world. But the church views that money as a holy gift offered to God, not as profit or revenue. So, the church must work diligently to use what is given to show the world the love of God and make known Jesus’ offer of salvation and eternal life. It distresses me to know that some people are missing out on the joy of a cheerful and generous lifestyle. But what torments me most is the knowledge that some people do not seek the Lord or attend and participate in church because they use the idea of giving offerings to the church for God’s work as an excuse for having nothing to do with God. And that is why I am writing this today, not to ask you for money, nor to tell you that you should give more money to your church, but to tell you why I do so that you can understand that tithing gives me joy. And while I may have begrudged that two cents all those years ago that my dad gave to that little boy, now I happily donate to the work of God because the other little boy (me) was set free from his toxic views of money by the simple act of worshipping God through freely, gladly, and thankfully tithing. Whatever you might think, God doesn’t need your money, but He loves you and wants to help you be free of whatever things are holding you back. You are so much more important to God than any amount of money. Don’t think that you have to be perfect and have everything all together to attend church or to seek God. We become by what we do. God does His part, and we live and learn by doing things that free us with His help to become more like Him. That’s my two cents worth that I freely offer you today.

God bless you!

Contact Pastor Lamb at imlayumc@yahoo.com.