God and Miss Clancy's Tithe
One summer I conducted a series of evangelistic meetings in a large tent at Ninety-Fifth Street and Broadway, New York City. To these meetings came an elderly lady who was introduced to me as Miss Clancy. She was from Northern Ireland, a Protestant, and strongly Calvinistic in her belief. I do not recall meeting anyone who displayed a more positive confidence in the Bible. She required nothing more than a clear "Thus saith the Lord" for instant acceptance of any truth.
In these meetings I delivered two sermons on tithing, making plain from the Bible that this requirement was for all who served God.
It was soon evident that she was disturbed. Her usual cheerful disposition was gone. She came to me and asked for an interview, which, of course, was gladly arranged.
"Pastor, your sermon on tithing has caused me deep concern, and I need counsel to know what the Lord would have me to do."
"Is there something that is not clear?"
"Oh, pastor, it's not that. It's clear enough. That's the trouble. I know what the
Bible says. What plagues me is whether it means me, and if it means me, how in the wide world I am to do what it says?"
"Just what do you mean about whether it means you?"
"I mean, can it possibly include anyone in my circumstances?"
"Well, Miss Clancy, of course "
"Wait a minute, pastor. Don't answer me until you have the whole story. You don't know my circumstances. Before you tell me anything just hear what they are, and then tell me whether you think the Lord would have me pay tithe."
"Very well, Miss Clancy; I am listening."
"I am a lone woman, pastor. I have no folks in this country except a niece who lives with her husband in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He has no obligation to take care of me, but he does. What he sends me each week is all the income I have."
"Do you care to tell me how much he sends you?"
"Six dollars a week." *
"How can you manage on that?"
"Ah, that's it, how do I manage? I don't know how, but somehow the dear Lord makes it cover my needs, praise Him."
"Where do you live?"
"In a kitchenette apartment. I moved into it years ago when rents were lower, and the blessed landlord has not raised mine. I think he is sorry for me."
"How much of your $6 does your rent take?"
"It takes $4.50."
"Do you mean that all you have for food, clothing, and other necessities is $1.50 a week?"
"Sure, and that's what I mean."
"But it cannot be done."
"Sure, and I'm doing it. And I can go on doing it. Only now you come along and tell me I must tithe my $6. And look where that leaves me."
"But I did not tell you that, Miss Clancy. It was the Lord who has cared for you all these years who told you. It is in His Book. I only showed it to you."
"Oh, I know that, but it comes to the same thing so far as I am concerned. What I am after is whether He means I should pay tithe."
"Why do you think He would make an exception?"
"Well, pastor, don't you see what this would mean to me? If I start paying tithe, that takes 60 cents out of my $6 to begin with. My rent remains unchanged. That with the tithe comes to $5.10. And I have 90 cents to live on. And for a week, pastor, for a week! Now that you know what this means to me, do you think the Lord would have me pay tithe?"
My first impulse was to say, "No, Miss Clancy, I do not think He means this for you. I am strongly of the opinion that the Lord and His work will manage to get along somehow without your 60 cents a week. Just keep it, and I'll try to do something to make things a bit easier for you."
But I did not say it. I was prevented from saying it by the insistent thought,
"Who are you to set aside a command of God?"
So I said, "Miss Clancy, all I can do is to point you to God's Book and His wonderful promise, and then encourage you to do as He says and trust Him to make the impossible possible. My advice is for you to do what God tells you to do and begin at once to pay tithe."
For the first time Miss Clancy smiled. Cheerfully she said, "I'll do what you say, pastor, for I think it's good counsel. It will not be the first time I have trusted God. If He fails me, well, it will be the first time that will have happened."
"He will not fail you, Miss Clancy."
"Sure, and well I know that. Goodbye for now, pastor, and thank you."
The following week Miss Clancy handed me 60 cents. No money I ever received was harder to take. But, I thought, I'll let the Lord manage this and not interfere. So the 60 cents was turned over to the church treasurer and a receipt returned to Miss Clancy.
Week after week she brought her 60 cents. Once or twice I leaned over to whisper in her ear, "Are you getting along all right, Miss Clancy?"
"Praise God, I am," she replied happily.
The third time I made this inquiry, she added, "Pastor, something strange has taken place. The neighbors never before did the things they do now."
"Why, they bring me little presents a loaf of bread, a pound of butter, flour, cereal, a quart of milk, fruit, and even cake. I really think I am getting along better on my 90 cents a week than I ever did on that dollar and a half."
"Do you think there is somebody who has put the neighbors up to this?"
"Sure and I do."
"Need you ask, pastor? The good Lord has not forgotten me, and He has not forgotten His promise. If you had not counseled me as you did, you would have robbed me of God's blessing."
Three or four months later Miss Clancy knocked on the door of my study, and, when bidden, came in with a flounce and a playful smile on her face. She stood silently for a moment in front of my desk and then said, "Pastor, you are looking at a woman with means, a woman of wealth. Sure, and you must show me the proper respect."
"Sit down, Miss Clancy, and tell me what has happened."
"Sure, and it's as I say. I have more money than I know what to do with. You will remember that I told you of that blessed nephew-by-marriage of mine in Connecticut? Well, this week he wrote me a letter. In it he said, 'I've felt for some time, Auntie, that you must have a hard time getting along on $6, and I've wanted to send you more. Now I can do it, for I have just had a raise in wages. You will find $10 in this, and there will be $10 every week from now on.' "
"Dear Miss Clancy," I said, "this makes me happy. I'm very glad."
"I knew you would be, pastor. But do you realize what this means? Do you see what God has done? Why, now, my tithe will be $1 a week, no less. My rent remains $4.50. And that leaves for myself $4.50."
"Yes, that "Pastor, are you good at arithmetic? How much more is $4.50 than 90 cents?"
"Five times as much."
"You see, there it is! Five times more for me than I have had before. Five times, mind you! Sure, I don't know what to do with all my money! I've been thinking I can now do more for these mission calls than I've been able to do before. Ah, pastor, the Book says the windows of heaven will open and a blessing come, too great to receive. That's what the good Lord has done for me. Aye, the windows of heaven are open upon me. You told me He would never fail me. Nor has He. It's a happy woman I am, this day."
And you, reader? Do you care to put God to the test? "Prove me now herewith," He invites. "Herewith" has reference to tithing. "Prove me" by paying tithe, if I will not open the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there will not be room to receive it. That blessing awaits only your obedience in this matter of tithing. As God was faithful with Miss Clancy, so will He be faithful with you.
*This story took place in the early 1900s.