One of the great, majestic themes in Scripture is the faithfulness of God. We see it echoed from page to page in Scripture, ever reminding us that God is faithful. We read this anthem from Old Testament to New. A summary of this theme can be found in Lamentations 3:22-23: “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; GREAT is HIS faithfulness!”
We can see God modeling faithfulness to us, so our faithfulness to Him is merely a reflection of His faithfulness to us. We find this in Luke 6:38 NLT, where Christ challenges us to “GIVE, and you will receive! Your gift will return to you FULL — pressed down and shaken together, to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap! The amount you give will determine the amount you get back!” We often rightly apply this promise of God’s incredible faithfulness on an individual level. But, could it apply to how we operate our businesses and our endeavors?
It was the first week of July 2018 when Laura Boldman, principal and grades 5-8 teacher at Josephine Edwards Christian School (JECS), a small rural Seventh- day Adventist Christian School located in Ellijay, Georgia, gave the JECS school board a unique challenge. She had just returned from Georgia-Cumberland Conference meetings, where she had heard the testimony of another school that had begun returning tithe on their fundraising. She challenged us, as a school, to start returning tithe on our increase — to start tithing, effective immediately, on every dollar of fundraising and donations that the school received. A fundraiser had just ended the day before, July 4, which netted the school more than $4,000. Do we really return tithe on that, we asked?
This was a BIG ask! We had just completed the 2017/2018 school year significantly over budget. We were financially unable to invest in needed capital repairs of our school building. Many of our students were on financial assistance, and we were in significant fiscal jeopardy. Of course, we were confident that God would supply for His school in Ellijay, just as He had for the past 50-plus years, but how could we tithe on our school’s fundraisers and donations? Would we really honor God by giving Him His own money back? The school desperately needed that 10 percent, with another 150 percent added to it!
In a step of faith (admittedly mixed with some fear and trepidation), JECS began returning a tithe on the school’s increase. After all, this was HIS school! We are HIS children! We knew full well that He “owns the cattle on a thousand hills,” and were even convinced He owns the hills as well as the cattle, so we were sure He could provide for His school.
Our first challenge after making that decision was an unusually high number of requests for student aid. We didn’t know where the funds would come from, but we were confident God would provide. We put the situation squarely on Him, committing to more financial aid than was budgeted, and not knowing how we would raise the necessary monies. Our tithing faith walk had begun.
What happened next was truly a disaster, though. No more than a couple weeks after making that commitment, and just a week before school was to start, the entire A/C system — cooling for all three classrooms, the office, library, kitchen, bathrooms, and even the hallways — failed. And, the initial bids for repair were devastating. One bid to replace the entire system was more than $34,000. How could we afford that? And how could we keep tithing as a school? More profoundly, how could it be that after we made this commitment to honor God, and after we shared this commitment with our church and school communities (the majority of whom are not Seventh-day Adventists), that He would allow this? So, we did the only thing that we could do, and took this matter to the Lord in prayer. Our board prayed, our school prayed, our church prayed, our parents who are not Seventh-day Adventist prayed, and our conference prayed. We claimed the promises of God, especially Malachi 3:10, where God makes an astounding promise to us: “Prove ME herein, says the Lord. If I won’t open up the flood gates of heaven.”
Through a series of miraculous interventions that took us into the second day of school, we were referred to an OEM technician who could rehabilitate the entire system for 1/10th of the cost of a new system. Through divine providence, the cost of the repair was just the cost that we had just fundraised earlier in the summer, minus our tithe! God was proving Himself faithful! By day three of school, our classrooms were a cool and comfortable 70 degrees, just the right environment for reading, writing, arithmetic, and of course learning about Jesus!
That was just the beginning of our Luke 6:38 experience. The 2018/2019 school year saw an increase of students by 30 percent (three times our tithing). We witnessed the joys of student baptisms, we saw our precious young people giving their lives to Jesus — including my son! And, as the school practiced being faithful to God in tithe, we grasped the precious realization anew that God needs no practice in being faithful to us. Faithfulness comes naturally to Him!
There have certainly been challenges (and even some heartaches) throughout the year, but this one thing we have learned again: We cannot out-give God! There is no question that each challenge that we faced along the way was just another opportunity for God to prove His faithfulness again and again and again. We have seen Luke 6:38 proved beyond a shadow of a doubt: “GIVE, and you will receive! Your gift will return to you FULL — pressed down and shaken together, to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap! The amount you give will determine the amount you get back!”
My friends, here is the great irony that only God could dream up. JECS finished the 2018/2019 school year with an unexpected surplus of funds, far outpacing all projections. God turned a faulty A/C system into an opportunity to demonstrate His Faithfulness! To God be the glory! May each of us take God at His Word, and put Him to the test today and every day. I am certain that we will find that God is FAITHFUL!
is the director of information technology services at the North American Division in Columbia, Maryland.
Southern Union | August 2019