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Giving – a blog post

February 2, 2018

Several years ago I heard a comparison in regard to the giving patterns of two men who were successful in their respective fields, and it has stuck with me.

Howard Hughes was one of the wealthiest men of the 20th century. He was an aviator, investor, filmmaker, business tycoon, engineer and entrepreneur. He was gifted in many areas in regard to business and accumulated over 2.5 billion in assets before he died. However, he was a very eccentric and extremely troubled man. His “relationships” revolved around being a pleasure seeking playboy. He was selfish, and he died sad and alone, a recluse. His wealth became his prison and pushed people away.

On the other hand was George Mueller. Mueller was a British evangelist in the 1800’s. He and his wife were heartbroken by the vast numbers of orphans they saw in their town of Bristol in England. He took that burden and built an orphanage – determined never to ask for money. When they had a need, they brought it to the Lord and they watched Him provide, time and again. Over the years they operated the orphanage, they received over 2 million dollars in donations, allowing them to help as many as 10,000 orphans. When an orphan would leave or “graduate” from the home, Mueller would place a Bible in their right hand and a coin in their left hand and pray for them. He told each one of them that if they clung tightly to what was in the right hand, God would always make sure they  had something in their left hand.

Who was the greater success? In my mind, it was Mueller. Though he didn’t have the resources that Hughes did, he positively affected many more lives and God always made sure he had plenty to meet the need. Hughes held on to everything he had except what he used to meet his own desires and he ended up sad and alone. Mueller gave away everything he had, yet never had to do without anything – while giving life and love and Christ to generations of children who needed it (and could then affect others around them).

I Corinthians 16:2 says “On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come”.

In this single verse, we can see God’s principles of giving for us, the church:

  1. The Period – the verse says “on the first day of every week”. We could modernize this by saying “as often as we receive income, we should bring into the storehouse (church)”.
  2. The Participants – “each of you”. This is the church, the whole church, and everyone in the church. It is not “those of you who are inclined to give” or “those of you who have abundance”. Remember the widow who contributed to the temple offering?
  3. The Place – “and store it up”. Going back to the original language, this is not meant to be a storing up at home or in your own bank, but bringing to the “storehouse”, the church. I also believe this is specific to the general budget offering of the church. The practice of the day was for people to bring their tithes and offerings, and the church leadership was to determine how to disperse it. Such is the case today as well in whatever means each church determines to steward that.
  4. The Proportion – “as he may prosper”. There are a couple of different viewpoints here in regard to New Testament giving. Some (myself included) still practice the principle of the tithe as the basis for giving to the church. The tithe is not only 10 percent, but the first and best 10 percent. Others practice what the New Testament calls “Grace Giving”, in other words, not a particular percentage but seeking God’s direction regularly for the pattern of giving. Both have sound arguments in their favor. In either case, it’s giving the first and best which is the most important.

One thing I have discovered with experience, however, is this…if you do not make it a top priority to give as God has directed, your money will not go nearly as far as you think it should and your spiritual life is affected. Giving is a matter of the heart. I’ve lived both sides of this and I can assure you that obedience opens the pathway to blessings.

Giving methods have changed over the years as checks are used less and less in today’s society. The last time I opened a bank account, the bank didn’t even offer checks with their most popular checking account. People are using debit cards and other mobile pay services. Churches like ours have thankfully adapted with the times and have online options for giving, both through our church website and by text message.

Still not motivated to be obedient in giving? Here are some Biblical motives for giving:

  1. Giving recognizes God’s ownership – as long as I hold on to it, I believe I own it
  2. Giving opens the heart to obedience – our actions follow the condition of our heart
  3. Giving breaks the power of money – money, the lack of it or the abundance, can have incredible power over us
  4. Giving invites God’s blessing – when we are obedient, it frees God’s hand up to bless His children
  5. Giving follows God’s example – even what was God’s, He didn’t keep for Himself

Giving really is much more a matter of the heart than it is administration. Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

My wife’s grandmother and grandfather were active in their church throughout their married life, but her grandfather was always very reluctant to tithe. His argument was “I can’t afford it”. Her grandmother tithed on her income but he did not on his. After hearing a sermon about tithing one Sunday, his heart was prompted. The pastor challenged them to tithe for a period of 30 or 60 days (I can’t remember which). He told them if God didn’t bless them in that time, then they could go back to their old ways with no guilt. Her grandfather met the challenge, and from that point forward, NEVER failed to tithe for the rest of his life. God did His part, as He always does.

Blessed,

Tony Watson
Pastor
First Baptist Church of Palestine, TX

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