"Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured to you."
I've always loved these words found in Luke 6:38. When I was a little girl I loved to make peanut butter cookies. My favorite part was measuring out the brown sugar. With brown sugar it is not enough to just scoop out a cup of it. You have to really pack it in, press it down and add some more. So this has always been the picture in my mind when I read these words. I loved the idea of my heavenly father filling up my cup to overflowing. Giving back even more than I had asked for from his giant bag of sugar.
As an adult the world seems a little different. When we scoop out the sugar it is from a bag we purchased. The bag and the scoop belong to us. When we measure out a portion we see that the source is diminishing. Every scoop we take means a scoop less we will have for the future. If a neighbor asks to borrow a cup of sugar we carefully weigh in our minds if we can afford to give. If we are running low we may hesitate knowing what we give will take away from what we may need in a day or two.
When God first moved Michael to start tithing it was when he worked as a barista. I was reluctant because money was tight and I didn't think we could afford it. He committed to giving all of his tips as a tithe. Immediately his tips went from $5-$6 a week to $30-$40 a week. This convinced me to start tithing on our whole income which we did for a year. It was a very difficult year financially and when it came time to recommit for our yearly giving I prayed to God to help my unbelief and to give me the strength to be faithful even though it seemed impossible to continue giving at the level we had been giving. In my mind my little bag of sugar was nearly empty. Not four months later a tornado tore up everything we owned. Yet within 6 weeks we had back more than we could have ever imagined through a blessedly smooth insurance payout. We tithed on that payment and it was a giant check. We floated out of church that day on a cloud of joy. On that day we truly understood what it means that "the earth is the Lord's and everything in it". He took away our little that we had worked and sweated for and gave us back from his abundance what we could never have earned on our own.
He showed us that day that only the measuring cup was ours. The bag of sugar is his and always has been. Think how different your reaction to your neighbor would be if you knew you had an unending supply of brown sugar. You wouldn't just give a cup. You would send them home with a bucket full.