What would you do if a stranger handed you money, and it was completely unexpected?
I bet you are thinking, "Oh my! PAR-TAY!" or maybe "Who in the world does that?". I'll have to back up and tell you what led up to this....
My hubby and I were getting ready for church, and Dale announced that he thought the sermon was going to be on evangelizing or tithing. My first thought was a sarcastic, "oh, goody..." First off, for those don't know me personally, I have grown up in Baptist and Non-denominational churches from the time I was born and am usually fine with any church topic....until the word "evangelize" or "tithe" comes up. Ever since teenage years, I would get tense any time those words came up. For example, I went on a junior high trip with a nearby church and was forced to go up to strangers on the beach and proclaim my love for Christ and try to convince strangers that God loved them. Honestly, sharing my faith that way does not come natural to me and I know when people pop up on my doorstep proclaiming their faith, it's a BIG turn off. I am the type of person who would rather share/evangelize by having a normal conversation with a person. If it feels like someone is asking a question or the conversation is naturally leading into the topic of faith, then I would feel comfortable sharing my beliefs. Secondly, when it comes to tithing (tithing is supposed to be 10% of your income and you give it back to the church), most of my experience has been pastors guilt-tripping or making a HUGE deal about it. Recently, I have explained my whole take on why I feel the way I do about tithing and realized that I just don't want to throw money into the plate like a robot. There's a lot more to it, but don't want to write a novel on here, and am sure you don't want to hear my huge rant/revelation about it.
So...I walked into church last weekend already tense and thinking the sermon would be a doozie. Boy, was I wrong! The sermon was completely different than we thought. It was about "Being made for more". The pastor shared some experiences of people doing more than they were asked of. Have any of you heard the story about Billy Ray Harris? If not, you NEED to watch this short video about the Billy Ray Harris story. After hearing more stories related to this and seeing how to apply it to our own lives, our church ended the service in an amazing way.
The tithing plate was passed around and instead of us putting money in it, our pastor told everyone to take one envelope out of the plate. He said there was money in each envelope (some had increments of $5 all the way up to $100 each), and he wanted us to have it! Can you believe that?! Instead of us tithing, he wanted to give the money back to us. BUT the stipulation was that we have to GIVE the money to a stranger. This brought me to tears. I've always wanted to pay it forward and do something like this. Not only has this idea really smoothed over my resentful heart about the word "tithing" but it has shown me that we all can have a purpose. A purpose to help others and to use what we already have (maybe it's not money, but maybe we are gifted in other ways to help others).
I still have not used my envelope money because I keep praying for an opportunity or the "right" person to come along. It feels really good to know that maybe I can bless someone and bring a smile to their face. So who knows, but eventually the money will go towards someone/something important.
So.... if you were given money and told to Pay It Forward, what would you do with it???
If you would like to hear the video sermon, here's the link: Made for More sermon