I once knew a man who had made a fortune in the furniture business but lived in a small home with absolutely nothing in it to indicate he had made millions of dollars. He drove a normal car, wore normal clothes and lived a very normal life, except for one thing; he was the Secretary/Treasurer of the ministry I served in for 15 years.
This man could have demanded, and received, a large salary for his work with the ministry, but instead insisted that his salary be $1 per year. This man, who could have lived a life of luxury, insisted upon living more or less like the people he served instead of trying to prove he was better than they were or deserved more than them because of his position.
This man was a shrewd businessman, which is why he had made millions of dollars. He drove a hard bargain when purchasing things and ran his business in such a way as to make a decent profit. Everything about this man was a dichotomy wrapped in an enigma. No one understood him, including his own brother who was the head of the ministry. But, when this man died suddenly in 1978, it was well documented that it led to the demise of the ministry a few years later.
I had the joy and honor of spending a fair amount of time with this wonderful man back in the early 1970's. I rode with him to many auctions where he bid on (and usually won) furniture that he then repaired and sold or gave away. He told me more than once that he was generally a happy man who loved life and loved the ministry, but there was one thing that made him unhappy and miserable.
See, what few people knew about this man was that it was impossible for him to be happy unless he could give 90% or more of his income to the ministry he loved. His tithe was 90%, but for him to be happiest, he needed to give closer to 95% of his income away.
Perhaps I should clarify something before going on. This man did NOT make a million dollars every year, but rather HAD made millions of dollars over the years in his business. His yearly income was actually very modest by today's standards yet he adamantly fought to give at least 90% of that income to the ministry. In order to do this, he had to live in a modest house, drive a modest car etc.
How many Christians do you know who voluntarily and with great joy willingly live on less, live with less and do without just so they can give 90% of their income as their tithe? Most Christians spend oodles of time trying to justify why they cannot even give 10% let alone give MORE than 10%. Most Christians cry out in pain as they put their check in the offering plate instead of whooping and hollering with joy at the opportunity to give.
Thinking and writing about this incredible man has humbled me this Monday morning and inspired me, in these time of great financial stress, to give MORE instead of less. I cannot give 90% or our income but I know I can give more than the 12% I usually give. It has been said that you cannot out give God and when I stop and remember the man I have written about today, I know it is true.
The principle of sowing and reaping, giving and receiving etc remains as solid now as it ever was. The way to avoid the pitfalls we have been seeing in 1 Timothy is to make do with less and diminish the importance of material things in our lives so that we have MORE to give. Simply put, when we strive to have more to GIVE instead of having more to HAVE, then we have learned the true contentment that comes in godliness and giving.
[quote]The principle of sowing and reaping, giving and receiving etc remains as solid now as it ever was. [/quote]
You and your wife are very familiar with the...challenges my husband and I have faced over the past few years, not only in regards to my health but financially as well. As we would cut back or cut out one thing after another, there was one thing we knew we could not touch. We had to continue to give.
There is giving and then there is sacrificial giving. Both are good but the latter can be much more challenging for it requires you to really trust in God to care for you.
I view it like this. When we are not willing to give, we stand before God tightly holding onto what we believe to be ours. Now how can someone possibly place something in your hands if you have them tightly clenched around something else. They can't. You have to open up your hands and release what you are holding on to.
The cool thing about it though is as God pours His blessings into your open hands, they do not remain there merely for your benefit. Since you have a giving heart, you cannot possibly keep them to yourself so you in turn strive to bless others. It is like the blessings of God flow into your hands and from your hands flow into the hands of others.