A little boy was sitting in church one day when the offering plate passed by. He didn’t have any money, so he tore off a piece of the sermon note page and wrote, “I give myself.” I’m not sure how much was given in cash and checks that day, but that little boy gave the best offering.
Paul wrote about the Macedonians and told us they first gave themselves. What an example. If the church of the 21st century would give of itself and its substance, we might be able to make a dent in this world. The Muslims are able to build more and do more because all Muslims are committed to giving 2.5% more than the church of the living Lord is giving, with members who are supposed to have tithing as the base of giving. In our efforts to live in a capitalistic culture, the first thing we cut out is God’s church, the Bride of Christ. While we wear designer clothes, the Bride is expected to be prepared for the Bridegroom wearing rags.
I’ve known people who give based on an emotional appeal, but this is not the best way to give. We should give based on biblical principles, not the passion of the moment. One is a gift of obedience; the other can be a gift of emotion that may not be repeated.
Spurgeon once told the story of a man who boasted that his religion had been a very cheap investment, costing him only a few cents a year. Another man said to him, “The Lord have mercy on your little stingy soul.” Spurgeon said, “If a man has no more religion than that, if he has not a religion that will make him generous, he has no religion at all.”
I might add—if my religion allows me to take God’s money on vacation with me, I have little or no religion. How I bless God for the obedient members of this fellowship who send their offerings in when they are going to be out of town. Others make sure they catch up when they get back in town.
It reminds me of the story from Flywheel where the car salesman sold a car to a minister. Remember how the salesman ripped off the minister in the deal? Then the minister prayed that God would treat the salesman the way the salesman had treated him. Now what would happen if God treated you like you treat Him in the area of finances?
Some of the most generous people I know are not rich. In fact, we have widows and others who are living on Social Security who give faithfully every month. I wonder what God thinks about those who have jobs, benefits, nice houses, and expensive cars who give a token to the church. Seriously, how do you think that’s going over in heaven? Watch out—pdon’t let prosperity destroy generosity.
I believe that those who give the most have the most left. When I give, I’m expressing my love for God and my faith in God as my provider. I can’t out-give God. My giving is not a matter of what’s in my checkbook; it’s a matter of what’s in my faith book. Do I believe God? Will I take God at His Word? Do I think I know my needs more than God? The counting committee at the church counts what we give. God counts what we keep.
Nearly half of the parables from the lips of Jesus have the use of money as their main subject. Ian Barclay wrote, “It is sometimes said that we should give until it hurts. But Jesus teaches that it should hurt when we cease to give.” Jesus said more about money than almost any other subject. Why? He knew men’s hearts. We are greedy and covetous by nature. If we don’t learn to give, we lose at life and lose treasures in heaven.
What if God was building your home in glory based solely on what you are giving? What if He translated your gifts to the church into materials for your eternal home? Would you be in a mansion or a shack? Would you even have a roof over your head?
The world is made up of givers and takers. While the takers may eat better, the givers will sleep better. The takers have it all in this life. The givers have treasures in heaven; the takers show off now. The givers will be revealed in glory. What we spend here we lose, but what we send ahead we have for all eternity.
Vance Havner said, “God hates a false economy that is out to reduce a budget instead of receive a blessing.” Andrew Murray wrote, “The secret of true giving is the joy of the Holy Spirit.” God is a giver in creation, in redemption, in sustaining us, and in a thousand other ways. If we are His children, we should have His nature. His nature is to give…is yours?
I’m convinced we can’t see true revival until America repents of self-centered living and starts to understand sacrificial living. We must re-prioritize our check writing—first the church, then our bills. The church check should be first, not last. God doesn’t bless leftovers. If you want left-over blessings, be a left-over giver.
How’s your giving? When was the last time you gave? Did you give the first fruits or the leftovers? Your checkbook says a lot about the condition of your heart. It reveals your priorities. It will also be used on the Day of Judgment to reveal how important the church and the Great Commission were to you. Are you ready for God to look at your checkbook? He already has. Is He pleased?
(copyright 2011, Michael Catt)
Michael served as the President of the Large Church Roundtable, the Southern Baptist Convention as an IMB Trustee, President of the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Preaching Conference, Vice President of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and President of the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference. He has spoken at conferences, colleges, seminaries, rallies, camps, NBA and college chapel services, well as The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. Michael is the recipient of The Martin Luther King Award, The MLK Unity Award, and a Georgia Senate Resolution in recognition of his work in the community and in racial reconciliation.
Michael and his wife, Terri, have two grown daughters, Erin and Hayley.