From Pastor Mike Woodruff:
Years ago, while traveling in troubled parts of Africa with Tim Dearborn – then a senior member of World Vision’s leadership team – I wondered why God allowed so much suffering. Dearborn reframed the question, asking why we allow it. He noted that if Christians gave ten percent of their income away, which he argued was a starting point, we could: 1) Wipe out extreme poverty; 2) Provide a 6thgrade education to everyone; 3) Provide clean water to everyone; and 4) Double every church budget and double every mission budget in the world and still have hundreds of billions of dollars left over. He argued back then that the question is not: when is God going to provide, or when are we going to be generous, but when are we going to be faithful and obedient?
I called Tim last week to see if he wanted to update his thinking. He said the numbers still hold, and then observed that there were four things that got the Jews in trouble during the Old Testament era: 1) a failure to circumcise; 2) a failure to tithe; 3) a failure to keep the Sabbath; and 4) a failure to welcome the stranger. He argues that these were all issues of trust. In every situation they (we) were being asked to give something up something they did not want to give up. With circumcision – well, there is no desire to give up anything on that front. With the tithe, it’s money. With the Sabbath, it’s time, and with our home, it’s control / privacy. On all four fronts, obedience protects us from idolatry and helps us learn to trust God.