To Live is to Give

We thank Jo Beth Boyles, a member of Bethabara Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, NC, for being our guest blogger this month. Jo Beth writes:

I was asked several months ago to speak on stewardship on behalf of my family. Since that time I have been in prayer asking the Lord to give me the words He would have me to share.

I was raised by Christian parents who followed Biblical principles in everyday life. Jesus was not someone we went to see for an hour or two on Sundays. Indeed he was present in our home every day. A Bible was in almost every room of my house. The Daily Texts was on the kitchen table. This is a tradition that Robby and I have in our own home. My mother, Catherine, had been raised in the depression. Her mother, my grandmother, opened soup kitchens all over the south during this time. My mother had seen real hunger and we gave thanks at every meal . She felt that if we were blessed enough to go out to eat and she did not have to cook ­ we were to give thanks ­ even in restaurants.

Tithing was something my parents did. My first allowance was $2.50. My father, Ernest, patiently explained that 25 cents or 10 percent was God's money and it was an honor to be given this responsibility. With each increase of my allowance, my father would lovingly teach me what my tithe should be.

Soon after the Bethabara sanctuary was built, my mother took me into the vestibule to look around. I was around 10 year of age and she talked to me about tithing. She told
me that she and my father lived better on the 90 % they kept than they could if they had kept their entire income. She said I have lived my life both ways, and I do not know how it works, but it just does. Maybe it is like the little boy with the 5 loaves and 2 fish. He shared what he had and the Bible tells us that 12 baskets of leftovers were taken up. My mother said that she imagined that the little boy went home with more than he left with.

After my mother's death, Sarah became my stepmother. My parents taught me to tithe but Sarah taught me the joy that can be found in giving. When her mind started to fail, she made the family aware that as long as she was alive, her tithes and her offering were to be given to her Lord. Tithing, she said, was expected, ­ but an offering? ­ "Now that is something wonderful; ­ it is something you give to the Lord ­ just because you love him."

My father was treasurer at Bethabara for over 25 years. For most of that time Bill Shelton was financial secretary. Never once was confidence broken about who gave what and who did not give, but he and Bill would meet and pray over the finances of the Lord's church ­ . The main emphasis in the prayers was on the fact that those not giving were
missing out on the JOY.

Stewardship is not just money, it is time and talent. Time is something we all have; true, we live very busy lives and my family is just as busy with Scouts, Tae Kwon Do, guitar and trumpet lessons, homeschooling, art classes ­ and that is just my son's schedule! I recently lost my father and my aunt; it was and still is a hard loss to handle. But I know that I am able to get through these events just a little easier because of the time I do spend with the Lord. Time not just spent in worship, but time spent in His word and in prayer.

Talent... ­ everyone has one ­ or more. Both my parents were in their 40's when they saw Bethabara needed band members. Neither one could read music, but both started lessons and faithfully played in the band. Jim K reminded us of Jim Drummond¹s dedication of serving the Lord in the choir ­. It was such a common occurrence to see Mr. Drummond being carried up to the choir loft that I had forgotten. My father was the same way about the band. He could have said, I have a bad heart, I am 82 years old, but that is not what happened. He no longer could lift his Tuba, but once placed on his lap he could play ­ only because he was using his talent for the Lord. The wonderful gift about sharing your talent is that you get so much enjoyment out of it. ­ Again ­ by giving you are receiving JOY!

My father started painting in his mid 50's. He started this hobby making crafts for the fall festival. Then he moved onto watercolors. The very first picture he painted was the Gemeinhaus It was not very good and he was not satisfied with it. Nevertheless my mother put it in a frame and hung it in our family room. My father kept on painting pictures of the Gemeinhaus and he got better at it. Most of those pictures were given away as gifts. The first painting was taken down and forgotten. Since his death it has been my and Robby's job to clean out his house. We were in his barn one day and I found this forgotten picture. Knowing how he felt about it, I tossed it into the trash pile. Something caught my eye, something long forgotten. ­ He had written a note and placed it in the frame: ­ TO LIVE IS TO GIVE, ­ TO WITHHOLD IS TO PERISH.

He was not talking about death; ­ he was talking about the JOY of living a life of service to our Saviour. I pray that each one of us knows that joy.