Taking the first fruits and the tithes of my produce and the first shearings, I would give these to the priests, the sons of Aaron, at the altar. Of all my produce I would give a tenth to the sons of Levi who ministered at Jerusalem; Tobit 1:6b-7a RSV
In the opening lines of the book that bears his name, Tobit describes how he joyfully fulfills the three tithes levied by God upon the people of Israel. This is not his burden, but his identity, and he is happy. Even though he and his people have been carried away by the Assyrians to Nineveh, he enjoys significant prosperity which he ascribes to God’s favor. Tobit has been faithful and God fills his cup to overflowing.
Sadly, bad things happen to good people. Largely due to Tobit’s extreme faithfulness, he become a fugitive and looses everything except for his wife and son. Later, he is able to return to Nineveh safely, but then, after another extreme act of charity, he is blinded. Through all of this, Tobit’s faithfulness does not waver, and God hears his prayers and sends the archangel Raphael to him. It’s a great story so I won’t give away the rest.
Tobit’s life of obedient action and prayer models an important principle we also learn from Jesus.
Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 RSV
Ask in humility seeking God’s will. Knock, persevering in prayer, confident the Father will provide what is best according to His sovereign, gracious will. 1
As we each consider next year’s estimated giving to our parish church, it may be far better to dwell upon the example of faithful Tobit, than to be primarily concerned with our parish operating expenses. Current levels of giving are meeting our expenses. However, when we give more, that overflowing generosity will let us do more as a parish for the kingdom of God to reach the lost, and to minister to His people and those in need.
Estimated giving cards are available now in the narthex. The collection of those cards begins next Sunday.
1 Suggested by ESV Study Bible notes.