by Pastor Tim Burt
Have you ever been in a financially tight spot? You are not alone. Most people have. What is the godly and correct way to respond to the pressure that financial difficulties can bring? Actually, I believe the answer is establishing a life-long core value that you consistently execute long before you get to that place of financial difficulty.
As a young Christian, I started hearing about the importance of giving and being a giver. Prior to becoming a Christian, I never saw myself as cheap. I think I was reasonably generous. At the same time, I was 24 years old and ignorantly irresponsible with money. I didn’t know what I didn’t know! I gave away what didn’t even belong to me by bouncing checks and accumulating credit card debt. I was giving what wasn’t truly mine!
When I met Renee, I learned quickly that she was excellent and responsible at handling money. She taught me how to balance my checkbook and helped me think through being more prudent in the management of my finances. Over time, the Lord helped me break the reckless habit of impulsive spending. I didn’t realize it was a stronghold in my life until I tried to stop it. But then, I experienced numerous times when I almost felt depressed because I couldn’t spend money (that I didn’t have anyway.)
In about a year’s time, I had really started changing how I managed my finances. In learning to be prudent with money, I also had to learn to be a giver—a responsible one! I could no longer spend or give what I did not have. I learned to put tithing (giving the Lord the first ten percent of what I made) at the top of my budget. A budget helped me figure out what discretionary income I had to spend after all my bills were paid (usually none), which helped me learn to live within my means. (Your flesh never feels comfortable with that.) If I wanted to spend more on things I desired outside of my budget, I learned to pray about them first and earn extra money if they remained important enough that I continued to want to buy them. And then along with that, I learned to be a generous giver (with the little I did have to give.)
Renee and I made it a core value to always give our tithe at church. We always took the first 10 percent of our income (the tithe) and set it aside for the offering. In 44 years of marriage, we’ve never missed giving our tithe.
God also put it on our hearts to buy purse-size New testaments to give to people we shared Jesus with. We gave money to people in need (whatever we could, whether what we could afford to give seemed insignificant or not.) We also developed an ongoing rule for our lives: if we hadn’t worn or used something for a year (with few exceptions), we gave it away to someone in need. That allowed us to be much more generous!
Being a giver is fun, satisfying, and refreshing to your soul. This might sound weird to some, but something powerful and supernatural happens when you become like this. It’s like money loses its power and hold over you and generosity becomes part of your character. What a fantastic character quality to let God form in you!
Knowing and personally experiencing the promise and wisdom of God’s Word concerning finances became a core value of our lives. Proverbs 11:24 NIV says, “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly (is stingy,) but comes to poverty.” We knew and trusted what Jesus promised in Luke 6:38 NLT, “If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving—large or small—it will be used to measure what is given back to you.”
The Apostle Paul brought insight to giving where Jesus left off in 2 Corinthians 9:6-11 NLT. “Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each make up your own mind as to how much you should give. Don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves the person who gives cheerfully. And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, “Godly people give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will never be forgotten.” For God is the one who gives seed to the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, He will give you many opportunities to do good, and He will produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched so that you can give even more generously. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will break out in thanksgiving to God.”
Renee and I didn’t learn this lesson when we had significant amounts of extra discretionary income. We learned it when we literally did not have enough to live on. We began to practice this when she became a stay-at-home mom and our income was cut by more than half. We didn’t think this was some get-rich-quick scheme. We simply had faith in God’s promises. We believed in His promise to wash away our sins and give us eternal life through Jesus. Why wouldn’t we believe in all His promises? And so, we had faith that because we had tithed and purposed to be generous givers, God would provide our needs. When things got tight and we felt our backs were up against the wall, we put our knees on the floor. We thanked God for the promises of His Word. We rejected fear and professed our faith thanking Him for His grace. As we did the best we could in being prudent and diligent with the finances God had put in our hands, He did the “exceeding abundantly beyond what we can ask or think” in our lives in numerous and miraculous ways.
God has a plan for stewardship and your income and blessing, but it is a life of faith that Hebrews 10:38 exhorts us to walk in! “The just shall live by faith…” So today I encourage you to learn to be a good steward of what God places in your hands and become a generous giver. When you look back over your life in hindsight, you will see His miraculous hand has helped you again and again!
Proverbs 3:9-10 (NKJV) “Honor the Lord with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase; So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine.”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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