The Gift of Giving

Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

This is often taken to mean, “Only give, don’t ever receive.” But I think Jesus is just describing the beginning of the giving and receiving cycle. It is more blessed to give than to receive because giving is how everything starts.

Dr. Tony Evans says, “Whatever you want to receive, start giving that.” It’s the principle of sowing and reaping. What you sow, you will reap. And the amount you reap will depend on your sparingly or generously you sow.

A few experiences brought these lessons home for me several years ago.

My husband and I were always faithful tithers, but some years ago we went through a very financially lean time and I just couldn’t see how we could give the full tithe. Around that time two things happened to cause me to commit to tithing, no matter what.

One was, surprisingly, reading a book by a secular marketing guru named Dan Kennedy. I’m not sure exactly which No B.S. Guide to ___ it was, but he was talking about how money works, And he said something like, “If you want money to flow to you, you must give at least 10 percent of your income to some cause you believe in.”

I thought, “Wow! Here’s this secular guy telling people that he doesn’t understand exactly how it works or why, but he absolutely knows that if you want money to flow to you, you must give.” He was observing and following one of God’s laws of economics.

I also thought, “If this secular guy is telling people to tithe, shame on me if I don’t obey what the God of the universe says about giving.”

Perhaps around the same time, for that 2 or 3-month period when we weren’t tithing because “we couldn’t afford it,” I accidentally slit my finger with a knife and had to go to the ER to get several stitches. Oh, and at the same time, our furnace malfunctioned and we had to pay a whole lot of money to get it fixed.

The combined costs of the hospital bill and the furnace bill was way more than our tithe would have amounted to. I somehow found a way to pay those off. And I thought, “Never again will I cheat God of the tithe! If I could come up with the money to pay the hospital and the furnace bill, I can invest in God’s kingdom.”

After that, we have given at least 10% of our income to God’s work, and we have seen God confirm his faithfulness again and again. Scripture indicates that when we entrust our first fruits to God, when we acknowledge him as our Source, he takes it upon himself to take care of our resources. (And if I’m tempted to quit giving, the numbness that remains in my finger is a reminder of what could happen when the protection of giving is removed.)

It’s been exciting to see the creative ways God has provided for us in the years since we recommitted to giving first fruits faithfully. For instance, when my son’s car was literally falling apart, God provided another car which we got for a profit. That amazing story is here: My son drove that car for 3 years, and it’s still going strong. (We did have to finally invest $2100 in it, but now it’s running better than any of our other cars!)

A few years ago, our kitchen flooded as a result of a very incompetent appliance repairman. We got a remodeled kitchen for pennies on the dollar as insurance paid for most of it.

Another year we got a whole new roof, for less than $200; insurance paid the rest (along with new gutters).

Another time, I was chosen as a finalist for the Daily Herald newspaper’s room makeover contest. I got free design advice.

My young adult daughter, seeing all this, is now a faithful tither. She recently got a great job near her school (Marquette U) where she makes $12/hour working a job that is very flexible and gives her much-needed cash to save, spend–and give.

Investing in God’s kingdom, I’m finding, is a great joy. It’s a joy to support God’s work in the world. It’s also a joy to see how God takes care of you as you trust in him. It’s really true that you can’t out-give God.

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