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Gone Fishin'

Isaiah was given a fishing pole at the mission conference of our former church back in September. A man who is affectionately called “Uncle Phil” by many of the children in the church invited Isaiah and I to fish in the pond behind he and his wife’s house. This was only Isaiah’s second time ever to fish and he personally caught a catfish and two bass – he was so excited.

I enjoyed the fellowship with Brother Phil while Isaiah fished. Phil has traveled the world on short term mission trips and he gives joyfully unto the Lord. It was a pleasure listening to Phil as he shared his convictions regarding tithing and giving to missions (a free will offering).

He lives by the biblical principle of bringing “forth all the tithe of thine increase” (Deut. 14:28). He stated, and rightly so, that any money we receive is an increase – whether it is your salary, a monetary gift, or a dime mailed in an envelope as a promotional gimmick – any money received is an addition to what we already have, and no matter how small it may be it is an increase and should be tithed unto the Lord.

Unlike Andrew who saw the “small fishes” of a child’s offering and said, “but what are they among so many?” (Jn. 6:9), Phil doesn’t see anything as too small for the Lord’s use. In fact, he will “gather up the fragments… that nothing be lost” (Jn. 6:12). If he sees a pop can (“a fragment”) in a parking lot, he picks it up so that it can be recycled. How much is a recycled aluminum can worth? A recycled can may only be worth a few pennies on the dollar but that’s about what it cost to print a gospel track too. The cans he collects are added to others that are collected at his church. I believe he said around $30,000 of the funds given to missions annually at his church are from these recycled cans.

What makes Phil’s gathering up of “the fragments” more striking is that he is a successful businessman that already gives of his income. It would be just as easy for him to drop a dime in the offering plate as to pick up a can from off the pavement but he doesn’t see it that way. He sees that God uses the small things as well as the large and that we are to gather up the fragments, those things overlooked by most people, “that nothing be lost.”

Probably the most striking thing that Phil said that evening was that giving unto the Lord is one of the greatest forms of worship. This thought is along the lines of “you can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving.” God gave us His best in the form of His Son – He deserves our best in return. All too often we give to the Lord out of our abundance; and in a bad economy how many stop giving all together because it “costs too much”?

“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7
“…neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing” 2 Samuel 24:24

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