We all face limitless little choices every day: what time to get up; how to exercise, if at all; what to eat at each meal; how to dress; what to watch, read, attend; do I answer that call, text, email; and the list goes on.
Then there are the bigger choices we face in life: what school to attend; what career to pursue; what job to take; who to marry; where to live.
When I was a teenager I wanted to be a beautician. My parents knew me well enough to know that was not a good fit for me. I am more introverted, so making people feel at ease while I cut their hair would not be my forte. But I did very well in school, so they wisely counseled me to further my education. My choice of college was made easy when I was offered a full academic scholarship. When it came time to choose a major, I remembered some advice from my uncle. He said the two professions in most demand, at that time, were accounting or the computer sciences. My brother was getting an accounting degree so I decided on a degree in Management Information Systems. When I graduated, I had every intention of working for some international company and making big bucks in the computer industry.
The most consequential of all choices we make, however, are spiritual. After choosing to accept salvation and make Jesus Christ Lord of your life, there is the daily choice to make relationship with Him a priority. We must choose to read His word; to pray; to fellowship with other believers; and to allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives so that the fruit of the Spirit becomes evident: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. There is the choice to listen for His leading, and then to obey both His written Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Training in Righteousness
If we choose to obey God in things that might seem small, denying ourselves and our carnal nature, we train ourselves in righteousness. It makes obedience in life’s bigger issues much easier because we have experienced the joy of obedience and seen the faithfulness of God.
A Choice to Tithe
During family devotions one night, when I was seven or eight years old, my father read a passage about tithing. While I don’t remember the exact Scripture, we may have been reading in Malachi 3:10, where the Lord challenges the Israelites to, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” The Holy Spirit worked in my young spirit so right then and there I determined to be faithful in my tithe to the Lord. I started tithing on my allowance.
When was fifteen I started my first job as a cashier at a meat and produce market; every paycheck the first money I took out of the bank was for my tithe. Through High School and college, even when I was walking in rebellion in other areas of my life, I was always sure to tithe.
God is Faithful
Committing the first fruits of my income to the Lord is not a difficult thing for me now, since I was a child I have chosen to train myself to be obedient in that area and I have definitely seen that God’s Word is true. Through scholarships, grants, and working jobs at school God fully provided my tuition for an undergraduate degree, two master’s degrees and a doctorate. He allowed me to graduate with each degree, debt free!
While graduating without debt is a huge testimony of His faithfulness I have also seen it expressed in other ways. God has provided me with good cars that do not require excessive maintenance. He has extended the life of clothes, shoes, furniture and other things that can be a drain on a budget. Of course, God works differently in each person’s life so His faithfulness to you may not be the same. But it is still the Lord who is providing.
Choosing Joy in Giving
Because of my experiences, when God tells me to give more in a particular instance – I can obey with joy!
One morning as I was preparing to speak at a chapel service at the ministry where I was serving, the Lord told me to give$1,000 to someone who would be in attendance. I was excited to see how God would use me to answer another person’s prayer. So, I zipped over to my bank and withdrew a $1,000. During chapel I asked if anyone had a been praying for that amount. A man raised his hand and said he was going on a mission trip and was short about $1,000! I was able to hand him the money and everyone there rejoiced to see how God supplied that need. Giving that large of an amount was new to me, and required me to change some of my plans. But God paid me back in many non-financial ways and I honestly didn’t miss it.
As I was selling my first house, I asked the Lord where He wanted me to tithe. The Lord impressed upon me to give 10% of the entire sale price, instead a tithe on the profit. I had never written a twenty thousand dollar check before. But it was such a joy to honor the Lord through an unexpected gift to a struggling ministry the day before my wedding! His blessing back to me in my new family far exceeds anything I could give to Him.
True To His Word
These stories are not shared to make me out as a saint. I have struggled plenty in my walk with the Lord. Instead, they are to prove that God is true to His Word. Hopefully they encourage you to choose obedience too! Obey in even seemingly small things so you can grow in your relationship with the Lord and in His righteousness.
Our faith goes Beyond Words, we must live it!
Dr. Jodie Chiricosta is vice president of Somebody Cares America/International. She teaches and consults on a variety of Christian living and leadership topics and is the host of the podcast Her God Story.