Jessica R. Patch recently posted a blog on giving in which she told of asking her seven year-old son Myles what he’d do if someone gave him a million dollars. Without even pausing to think, he said he’d give half to God and keep half. Myles’s reply and the blog Jessica wrote about it, got me to thinking on the subject of Christian giving.
In my comment on her blog, I admitted my answer would have been far from that at age seven—or age thirty-seven for that matter. In my youth and early adulthood, I was a fairly self-centered person. Might as well ‘fess up.
It’s not that I didn’t care about anyone else. It’s just that I’d been so broke for so long the main thing on my mind was making a million dollars—or two or ten. Not to build a better mousetrap, just to make a lot of money.
Funny thing is, as long as I had that goal, I never even came close. Nearing age forty I found myself single again, broke and jobless. Not a good prospect. God had to lead me through several steps to get my focus away from self and money and onto others and giving.
First, He exposed me to the standard prosperity gospel message that if I would give to Him (His church, His people, etc.), I would receive my gift back multiplied a hundredfold. Now that thought appealed to me at the time. I didn’t stop to think it through to its logical conclusion. I just grabbed onto it. I figured at that rate it wouldn’t take but a few cycles to make me the millionaire I’d always wanted to be.
Of course, it didn’t work out exactly that way, but God did honor the fact that I was giving money I couldn’t begin to afford to give, and He began to open doors for me. Over a period of time, I did manage to build my income back to where I could support my daughter when she moved in with me around her sixteenth birthday.
All of that is preliminary, though. God also exposed me to the 21st verse of Matthew 6. To remind you of the context of this familiar passage, I’ll include verses 19 & 20 also:
19 “aDo not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
20 “But store up for yourselves atreasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;
I’d read these verses before. Numerous times. But I’d never given them any particular thought. Fortunately, God had brought me to disciple under a great Bible teacher, and he put meaning here that had never occurred to me.
Growing up, I’d been taught that I should tithe because I was supposed to. Period. Then, more recently, I’d been taught that I should tithe to get back more from God than I gave Him. Well, He always gives us more than we give Him, but that’s a pretty shallow motive for giving. Finally, at age forty, I was exposed to a profound truth about giving. Where I put my treasure, my heart would follow.
If you’re a farmer, your heart is on the weather channel and the commodities index.
A broker’s heart is on the ups and downs of the stock market. Surely one’s heart does follow one’s money.
What I realized as my teacher pounded this passage into my consciousness was that God gave me the instrument of the tithe as a tool to get my heart into His kingdom. Wow! I’d realized for some years by that time that His kingdom should be more important to me than it was, but I couldn’t change myself. Now He was giving me a tool for that change.
As the motivation for my tithing changed, several things in my life changed. For one thing, my finances changed to the point that I no longer worried about them—but that was just a bonus. The real change was within me.
He instilled in me a soul-deep desire to give to others in need. At the same time, He led me to care about others. No longer were they just one-dimensional faceless people put there to serve my meal or check me out at the grocery store or cash my checks at the bank. They became real, three-dimensional, flesh-and-blood people who had lives far beyond their obvious functions in serving my needs. I began to enjoy visiting with such people when I wasn’t interrupting their jobs—coming to know little bits about them, their families, their needs.
I’m still a sinner saved by grace, but God is slowly and surely changing me and transforming me to make me more Christ-like. Got a long way to go, but the journey is good, and becoming a giver was the key to opening the door for me.
· What thoughts enter your mind when you give?
· Are you the Pharisee who passes by someone in need or the Samaritan who stops to help?
· What has God done in your life to bring you closer to Him?
David N. Walker is a Christian father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years as a health insurance agent. Most of that career was spent in Texas, but for a few years he traveled many other states. He started writing about 20 years ago, and has six unpublished novels to use as primers on how NOT to write fiction. Since his retirement from insurance a few years ago, he has devoted his time to helping Kristen Lamb start Warrior Writers’ Boot Camp and trying to learn to write a successful novel himself.
 New American Standard Bible