“Never shall You wash my feet!”
“Lord, then wash not only my feet,
But also my hands and my head”!
— John 13:7–9
Over the past few years, well actually, I suppose I realized it soon after my divorce. I began to notice that I am a lot like Peter of whom this opening verse is about.
Peter was one of the apostles who witnessed Jesus walking on water and believed He was a ghost. Then unlike the other apostles when Peter realized it was Jesus, he immediately jumped out of the boat to walk toward Him. Unfortunately, he was also the one who looked around at the wind and the waves and immediately began to sink. Thankfully, he also holds onto no pride and proceeded to cry out for Jesus to save him.
You’d think he would learn, but we saw this kind of behavior several times from him again, like this one in our opening verse, which occurred at the beginning of the Last Supper festivities. Peter was quick to try to stop Jesus from washing his feet (knowing the kind of sinner he was), but when Jesus told Peter that without allowing it, “you have no part with Me” Peter goes overboard, again, and asked Jesus to wash his hands, feet, and head!
Since I am comparing myself to this interesting fellow Peter, I think I would like to stop right here before I have to be reminded that Peter was the one who was absolutely sure that he would stand by Jesus, who he later denied…okay, let’s stop right there. Or, better yet, let’s fast forward to remind ourselves (this is more for my benefit than yours 😉 that Jesus did mention that after His resurrection, in Matthew 16:18, “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this Rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” Okay, that’s better…
So, here’s how I’m like Peter. When the Lord showed me that my financial woes were due to unpaid back tithes that had caused not only my “state of poverty,” but also my children and my ministry’s “death”… Okay, wait, before I go on, although I do believe that humility is always in vogue, in fashion as a believer, I don’t want to paint the wrong picture of my circumstances. Let me rewind or regress just a bit…
Due to the fact that I had been tithing to my storehouse along with giving an offering that equaled 50% of my personal income, and though we had no huge bank account, and we did have debt coming out of our (my) ears, we were never lacking in anything. Nothing at all.
A lot of our living comfortably was due to the fact that the Lord had me write and live the principles in Breaking free from The Poverty Mentality. So, I was not violating any of those principles by stating “We can’t afford it” nor was I thinking it either. From the moment of my divorce, I was free to break loose from all restraints—I was a woman on a mission to radically obey God no matter what!
And so, being the zealot that I am, when I met a medical missionary on a flight who got my attention when he told me about a man he knew who had given God 90% of his income, which is when I began to ask my Husband to help me to increase to that amount too— I just knew God had me sit beside this young man because that message was for me! And a few months later I had gotten up to giving 50% of my income. Yet none of this was what I was doing with my ministry income. Now, fast forwarding to the present…
At first, when I would think of the enormous amount of “back” tithes I knew I owed from my ministry income, the thought wanted to engulf me with horror and fear. That’s when I chose to turn it around and focus on the fact that tithing means giving, and with so much in back tithes, there had to be a lot of giving up ahead. And to confirm this giving was in my future, I instantly remembered something I saved from a fortune cookie that said, “In your latter years you will be a philanthropist.” If you don’t know what a philanthropist is, you are not alone, it was only a few years earlier that I finally looked it up. Oh, I had heard the word but didn’t exactly know what it meant.
So here is the official definition: philanthropist, wealthy people who give substantial amounts of money to support charitable, educational, or cultural institutions or activities; a desire to improve the material, social, and spiritual welfare of humanity, especially through charitable activities; general love for, or benevolence toward, the whole of humankind.
Sounds just like Jesus, doesn’t it?
And would you believe, just the day before, the day before I opened that fortune cookie, I had asked God, “Make me a philanthropist”?
Before going on, I believe that there are a few of you that we have left behind. You are still staring in disbelief that I not only read a fortune cookie, but that I saved it, and believed God sent me that message in answer to my prayer.
Darling, if this is you, God doesn’t really care about religious things like this; did you know that? Remember all the issues He has with the churches in Revelation? Yet if you read it, you will find that His focus was that their heart was to impress others with their “good works” that led to them leaving their first Love!
Once you know, and embrace your first Love, your Precious Heavenly Husband, and experience His love, you know that all that matters to Him is also all that should matter to you—being His and His alone. And when you are in His and His alone, you no longer live under the law, but you are free from the law so that you actually soar right over it. Honestly, it is hard to explain to someone who has never experienced this, and because this is not what this chapter is supposed to be about, I will have to move on. But, if I have gotten your attention, and you want to know how to live like this, then read or reread Finding the Abundant Life and then Living the Abundant Life. Both these books and all my books are free as courses on RMI’s LoveAtLast.org ministry. Just another way to give.
Now, to get us back on track, where was I? Oh, I had just said that when I began thinking of how much my back tithes would be, at first, they wanted to engulf me with horror and fear; however, I chose to turn it around and focus on all the giving that was up ahead. And boy, did I get excited!!!
This began a giving frenzy!
Though God had transformed me into a giver years ago, after this revelation, I was almost out of control, but I was loving every part of it!
Giving became my passion. I gave big things, little things: time, money, and many of my possessions. If I had it, I gave it away. I gave to family, friends, enemies, and strangers.
Yet there was something I had that I didn’t know was holding me back. Something that was keeping me in bondage. Something that prevents us all from experiencing the freedom of a most precious kind. And a lot of it was founded on my giving frenzy.
Most of us are not comfortable with receiving.
The majority of Christians are only comfortable with giving, and I was no exception. Yet the Bible tells us many times, specifically and theoretically, that we need to be able to do both, to be well-balanced, smack dab in the center of the narrow road, such as we see in the life of the apostle, Paul.
“I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need” (Philippians 4:12).
Knowing we all have trouble with this principle of receiving, rather than give to friends in need, many times I was forced to agree to “lend” Christians the money. In their minds (and what allowed them to accept what I wanted to just “give” them), it meant that they were “planning” to pay it back. Again, this was due to them not knowing how to accept freely because they never felt comfortable with receiving.
Years earlier I had learned another Bible principle that we are supposed to just give, not lend at all (Luke 6:34-38, Deuteronomy 23:19-20) What I love about following the principle of giving rather than lending is because you are instantly set free from the bondage of expecting the payment returned to you. Expecting and not receiving what is “owed” is normally the cause of relationships that end bitterly. Am I right? Nevertheless, if someone wants to borrow, we need to lend (Matthew 5:42).
And because I had always given to others with this mindset, to give and not expect that it would be paid back, is why I forgot that anyone owed me anything. This principle was the next lesson I needed to learn and live.