Wondering, giving


I have read a thousand points of view that support the idea of a prosperity Gospel, based upon verses such as these: Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. (Proverbs 3:9-10) I have heard the arguments that enough faith will cure cancer, enough prayer will eradicate fainting spells, enough wisdom will cure a sick family in short order. But that hasn't been my walk. With a few stumbling years on the journey, I have been a Christian since I was 5 years old. Yet at 14 I started fainting. At 19 I was told there were no medical answers and little hope for treatment for my heart failure. At 20, I was told I was infertile. At 29, four children and a husband later, cancer reared it's head, so early in life. At 30, fainting and heart failure showed up on the scene once again. What I am I to conclude? By most worldly standards, I am indeed wealthy. Yet one of the most advanced medical communities of the Western world cannot promise me life, or health. I wonder whether my children will be motherless in ten years, my hopes of making a home and schooling at home dashed by a disease over which I have no control. Where is the God of prosperity in this situation?

John Piper preaches that I serve a God of suffering, a God made glorious in suffering. Not a God of prosperity, not a God who necessarily grants worldly wealth or health at all. Yet this doesn't answer the question of how to serve, or how to give, or how to live. That is a question I wrestle with as our church prepares to plant a church, and studies freedom in giving...freedom from fear in giving. Recently, I found this interesting post, which both encourages giving greater than 10% and denies that New Testament Christians are bound to the tithe as a mathematical percentage. Should Christians tithe, then? Mark Driscoll offered me both a historical and culturally relevant sound byte on this issue. This blog post also lends insight to the dynamics of Old Testament obligations versus New Testament choices. So what can I give? I am fighting cancer (point of fact: medical bills in excess of 15% of our gross income annually); I have four children, for whom we must provide; I am in graduate school, incurring expenses to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of needy people in the future. How does all of that relate to my giving? I'm not really sure. I found this post, which addresses tithing for Christians who have debts, intriguing. Do you have a mortgage? Other debts? How do you tithe? How does the freedom of Christ relate to gracious giving? How do the Old Testament laws and edicts affect your decision as a "New Covenant" Christian?