My mother and father made sure I started early…
Each week I was given a shiny silver coin on my way to Sunday School. It was my responsibility to make sure that coin made it into the offering bank in my classroom. It was always fun to hear it clank off the bottom of the white plastic church we used for our children’s offerings.
As I grew older, wiser and ornerier, we would fill our pockets with pennies, knowing that we could get maximum satisfaction from the multiple clanks they would surely make.
Even in our boyhood silliness, we were doing the right thing.
Some things from childhood stick with you––hard habits to break. When it is a good habit, however, this is extremely good news. In those early years, I picked up a good habit––giving back to God.
Giving back to God is a strange proposition in our world. As with all good things, it has been tainted by the selfish cravings of men. However, it deserves some thoughtful clarification.
Passing the plate––especially the televangelist’s electronic plate––has really taken it on the chin in our greedy society. Even without the scandals, we have great difficulty releasing what we see as ours. For even though we might believe God gave us everything, it’s awfully difficult to give Him anything.
Biblically, we give a portion of what we’ve got back to God to be used for His work through our local place of worship. Throughout the scripture, woven into the fabric of the righteous man, was a commitment to give back to God a part of what was given to him.
A man was given ten cows; he gave God one back. A man was given many acres of wheat; part of his harvest was given back. A man earned a wage; he gave God the first tenth. This is called tithing. God gives us all we have––we give a tithe back to Him. The tithe is His––we come to terms with that and obey or we retain it for ourselves, keeping it from God.
An offering (i.e., missionaries, relief aid, supporting a third-world child) is a sacrificial gift above and beyond our tithe. It hurts a little to give it for it is given out of sacrifice. Whereas the tithe is given out of obedience, the offering is given out of sacrifice. We give up something to make it possible. It could be one less meal “out-to-eat” or an unnecessary toy. It is “given up” for God and His people.
Many people support local and foreign charitable projects. These are men and women who could use this amount of extra cash each month on their own needs. Surely, they have plenty of ways to spend this money. Even with lots of unmet needs of their own, they make a commitment to help others with their unmet needs. It hurts. We “give up” a lot each month for the sake of God and others.
Does that make sense? Sound crazy? Yes and no. Yes, it is crazy from a practical administrative standpoint: Don’t give away something that you can use for yourself. On the other hand, it makes perfect sense in God’s economy: It is more blessed to give than to receive. You gain by giving up. You multiply by sacrifice.
Bottom line: People who give liberally are always blessed liberally. It works. The more you unselfishly channel your funds, the more you have to work with. I don’t know how to explain it other than knowing––really knowing––from experience. All my life, I have given back to God money that I could have used (and wanted to use) only to find that God takes what I have left and makes it go further than what I had to start with. This is called the “ninety-percent miracle.” He has never failed to keep His end of the bargain.
For you? If you check it out––and trust me on this––you are going to experience the joy that only comes through giving. Start with something. Try it out––the tithe and the offering. Obediently give back to God what is His (the tithe). Set aside something extra to help others. Try it for six months. If you are not better off by then, I’ll stand forever corrected. If you are better off by then, you will have discovered the greatest thing to ever hit the human race, for…
… you can never outgive God––I am a result of generations of folks who have tried!by Pastor Doug