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Tithing: Forgive us our Debts

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I have bad luck with cars. A Frenchman wrecked my Pontiac Sunfire in 2008 (small price to pay for a hilarious story that involves cuss words in foreign accents), I've slid off the road in snow storms, hit multiple animals, and then this winter my husband and I hit a deer. My third Honda that had a mere 164,000 miles on it was officially totaled, and now I had to figure out how to replace it. Two weeks prior to my fateful encounter with PA wildlife, my dear friend Geraud also hit a deer and totaled his car. Both of us had insurance, but Geraud had worked for a long time to get his car and had just purchased it six months earlier. When the insurance company calculated his claim, the value of the car was worth less than his outstanding loan, and he had several thousand dollars left to pay off. He would be making car payments for another year on a car that no longer existed, with no hope of getting a replacement car until the debt was paid. Geraud has a very caring family, but they were not in a place to be able to help him financially. I owned my car, but it was old with high mileage, so my insurance claim was only about a third of what I would need to find a suitable replacement. We were both in a predicament. My grandfather, with whom I had no relationship, passed away over the summer. At exactly the same time as the two car accidents, I was notified that I would be receiving a modest inheritance from him. When I heard the news, I experienced a wide range of emotions. I primarily felt strange, and in some ways guilty, over being given money by a man I didn't know. I felt like I now owed him something and was in his debt--a debt impossible to repay. I was at a loss about how to process the situation. At that point, the Lord revealed something to me about money and resources. I Chronicles 29:14 says, "But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you." All that we have is not our own; it's an allowance from our Heavenly Father, with which we cultivate the creation. In light of this truth, the inheritance wasn't my grandfather's money; it was an inheritance from the Lord. As I was thinking about the situation of the two cars, I had a deep sense that the inheritance money was provided to meet the needs of both of God's children. My husband and I decided to tithe from the unexpected provision to offer a shared inheritance with Geraud. The ten percent we shared was not enough to get Geraud a new car, but it was enough to begin a crowd-sourcing drive. We opened a Rally.org campaign, expecting that it would take several weeks to raise the full amount necessary to pay off Geraud's loan and to give him a down payment for a new vehicle. The campaign lasted less than a week! Because of the kind of person that Geraud is, and the kind of Christian network that he has, we raised $6000 in five days. His earthly family may not have had that kind of money, but his spiritual family does. We called it his "Jubilee car" as a reminder that we serve a God who specializes in cancelling debts. God's resources offered two of his children a rich inheritance in their time of need, not an inheritance that comes from human hands with any strings attached, but an abundance from our Father who owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Such generosity bids us to know the blessing of freely offering back to the Eternal Giver.

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Heather Strong Moore is a Partnership Coordinator for the CCO (Coalition for Christian Outreach) in Northwest Pennsylvania. Through this role, she builds new ministry partnerships and helps current ministry partners flourish. Her husband, Ivan, is a full-time staff member with CCO at Graystone Church, where Heather volunteers her time. Heather holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Messiah College and a Master of Arts in Community Counseling from SRU. When she's not speaking, she focuses much of her current study on Old Testament scholarship. This post originally appeared on Heather's blog. She shared it with us as part of a community link-up for the Tithing theme. Image credits: Photo by Cindee Snider Re. Design by Jennifer Dukes Lee. Used by permission.

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