In this blog article I want to follow-up with the previous post, by sharing three personal and real life stories (from myself, my dad and my wife’s grandfather).
The first story I’d like to share is about a time when I was newly married and we just had our first child. My wife was working part-time and I was working in real estate, along with other part-time jobs here and there. We lived in an apartment and were not making much money. But one day, I had it on my heart to give a specific amount to a local youth center. That amount, at that time, was somewhat of a “sacrifice” for us in light of our bills and needs. Right after I wrote the check, my stomach sank when I saw in the mail a notice about owing three times the amount we just wrote out to give away, in regard to our child’s birth that our insurance apparently wasn’t covering. I was discouraged and was even tempted to tear up the check I just written to give to this youth center! But when my wife called to take care of this issue, we received interesting news…they had made a mistake and our insurance would be paying that amount! That in itself was like getting three times the amount we just wrote out to give away…back! But the story gets even better. That very night we got a phone call from Lauren’s sister. She proceeded to tell my wife that she had been cleaning out her car and happened to find an old check from months ago, that had never been cashed, between the seats. The amount of that check was literally the amount we just wrote out to give away, plus three dollars and three cents more! God can provide in ways you never could think or imagine!
The second story I’d like to tell comes from my dad. I asked him to write something up himself. Here is what he wrote:
“The blessings of giving started for us long before I had the business. When we started tithing things almost immediately started getting better for us. But the real blessing was the joy we felt in giving. We did not have a lot when we made the commitment to start tithing. I still remember being delighted to be able to help people in need. What really helped for us was never considering the money ours, we always set it aside first then looked for where God was directing us to give. Shortly after we started tithing the company I was working for hired a consultant to look at every aspect of their business. One of the things they told them was I was way underpaid for what I was doing. I got a substantial raise at that point. As we got more money via raises, bonuses, tax refunds we kept giving more both dollars and percentage as we realized that we got such joy out of it and also saw God was faithful to His promises in Malachi 3:10-12.
So when I started tinkering around on eBay I asked myself after a little while why I was doing this as I already made a nice living as a salesman. It was then I decided that the profit from that business would be used largely for us to be able to give more and to help the Kingdom. Wow, did it take off at that point. I mean immediately that day the sales like tripled without explanation other than God blessing it. Then very shortly after that we stumbled upon the memory cards and that really took off. As we continued to give the business continued to grow in leaps and bounds. It has been so cool being used by God and watching Him work through our business.
It has been a spiritual battle as well though. As virtually every time we go on a mission trip something would happen to threaten the business. Even now as Amazon has suspended my account I have a peace that if it is from Satan then my God is greater and the issue will be resolved. And if it is from God then I will trust in what He has planned next for us.”
The third story I’d like to share concerns my wife’s grandfather who was an extremely generous man. He gave to the work of the Lord and had a heart for those in need. The president of the organization I will be working with, who was a personal friend that the family has supported for many years, told me it was from him that he received the largest gift he has ever received in one check. When my wife’s grandfather was just 15 he prayed a prayer that he wanted to give away a million dollars one day for the sake of the kingdom of God. That was a “big” and “bold” request at the time, but in reality it actually seems like nothing compared to what he ended up actually giving away! God blessed him with a knack for business (he attributes a lot of his success to the book of Proverbs!) and he became the founder of what became a successful potato chip company!
There are so many stories that could be told, both from the Bible and from those past and present. You cannot out-give God. The question is will we trust in money or trust in Him? The issue is not the amount compared to others. Luke 21:1-4 tells a story about how many “rich” people were putting into the temple treasury “large gifts” and a poor widow who put in an amount significantly less, yet significantly more: “All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” We can’t give what we don’t have. We can only give according to what we do have. But the question is are we willing to give according to what we do have and what is put on our heart to give?
God can take that, even if it seems “small” or “insignificant” to us and do amazing things with it. Think of the boy who gave all he had to Jesus. Jesus blessed it, used it and multiplied it to feed over 5,000 people! (John 6).
Small amounts can actually make a big difference. With a ministry like ServeNow for example, just $5 provides a NT Bible to someone who cannot afford or does not have access to one of their own! $5 provides clean water to a family for an entire month in area’s of India where it can be 125 degrees in the summer! $5 provides a mosquito net to protect from malaria. $10 provides a hat, scarf, blanket, gloves, sweater & socks to one person in Northern India where temperatures are freezing and hundreds literally die due to the cold and lack of sufficient clothing! $323 can provide a day long medical clinic that will treat hundreds of people who do not have access (or have never had) medical treatment from a doctor before! $165 provides a bike to a pastor in rural parts of Uganda, some of whom pastor more than one church, which means walking miles on foot. A “little” can be a “lot” and make a “big” difference!
Sometimes God will put on our heart to give in ways that actually are “sacrificial.” It’s not that He wants us to suffer while others prosper. But He also doesn’t want us to prosper while others suffer and we do nothing about it (see 2 Corinthians 8:12-14). He wants us to share in the joy of giving and blessing of giving. It is actually a means of knowing Him and His heart.
Jesus is in fact our example: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9). Lastly, 2 Corinthians 9:12-15 goes on to remind us of this reality that I have witnessed and seen to be true time and time again: “This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”