June 13, 2021

Finances and Faith

One of the more challenging and enjoyable aspects of being a follower of Jesus is that this life is an adventure. If you’re doing it right, this life is never boring, and in fact brings some compelling surprises. Unfortunately, however, whether through timidity or simply because they’ve never been presented with the possibility, some followers of Jesus never explore this, they never put themselves in a position where they see the living God provide for them, they never experience supernatural intervention. I am writing to suggest that one very concrete area in which to allow yourself to explore this is with your finances.
Have you ever intentionally given significantly beyond what is comfortable? Have you ever put to the test the promises which God makes about this?
I remember starting at a new church (for me) about 15 years ago, and in one service a woman stood up and said that she and her husband had felt the Lord’s guidance, that He wanted her to leave her job and be at home with the kids as they were growing up. They felt some hesitation about this, because they felt that the extra income was essential for them. However, they did obey, and to their surprise they saw the Lord take care of them, that even though they were a bit poorer financially, they were still able to meet their financial obligations, and in addition their family life was considerably richer. They had taken a step of faith, and had seen God come through. Their story made a significant impression on me.
I know another family that, with four kids, felt that they were giving as much as they could afford to do. Yet they brought this to the Lord and, with His promises in view, began incrementally increasing their giving by 1% or so each year, year by year, to the point where they are now giving away somewhere around 20% of their income.
I know another man who, seeing the promises and statements from God about giving, determined to give more than he was comfortable with, partly because of the needs of which he was aware, partly because he too was intentional in bringing it before the Lord: “Lord, You know that this is a stretch for me, but You have said that You can multiply this, and I’m trusting You to take care of me.” In his case, there is no doubt there are things of which he is temporarily deprived, but on the other side God is blessing him with financial adequacy and fruitful ministry to quite a few people.
Would you like to read more stories of God’s faithfulness in these matters? In addition to Scripture, read missionary biographies; read Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, about the 19th-century missionary to China; read biographies of the 19th-century Christian George Mueller, who with absolutely no income, and never an appeal for funds, opened up one orphanage and then another and then another, eventually housing hundreds of children and even being enabled himself to donate money to other organizations, all with nothing more to depend upon than the promises of God that He would provide.
What are these promises? How about this one from Malachi 3, where God actually invites us to test Him, to see whether He will come through? (As far as I can tell, this is the only instance in Scripture where God invites such a test.) Hear the living God instructing His people in Mal. 3:8-10:
“Will a man rob God? Yet you rob Me.
“But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’
“In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse— the whole nation of you— because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house. Test me in this,” says the Lord almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”

Or this from Jesus in Luke 6:38:
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Or the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:19:
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
And here is an excerpt from those two challenging and promising chapters about the adventure of giving, in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 (this is 9:6-8):
“Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
Let me be quick to say that I am not writing this to make you feel guilty about how much you do or don’t give. My motivation is different: I would like as many of my brothers and my sisters as possible to explore this life of faith, to explore what it is like to put yourself on the line and see God come through, and I would like to see the Lord Jesus exalted in our lives as we entrust yourselves to Him more fully and more concretely.
In addition, I am not suggesting where you donate (that’s between you and the Lord), I’m not suggesting how much (that’s between you and the Lord), and I definitely am not suggesting any specific percentage. Rather, make this into one element of your relationship with God: as He brings to your attention a ministry or a church or a person that you think can benefit from having more resources, give this back to Him in prayer, something like: “Father, I want to donate to this ministry, and I want You to be actively involved in this. You know that this will be a significant burden for me, but I would like to give $30 per month. Please, as You have promised, multiply these funds in their ministry, please guide them in using the funds to the best ends, and please continue to take care of me as You have promised to do. I commit this gift to you in the name of Jesus.” Yes, this is stepping out in faith, and it is indeed a bit scary. But look again at the promises above. He is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
It is truly a remarkable adventure, and you get blessed in it, and everyone around you gets blessed, and God is glorified. Not a bad trade-off, huh?

2 thoughts on “Finances and Faith

  1. I had a close friend write to me, about a decision they made with their spouse to double their giving. This was in response to how they felt God was leading them, and was taken to Him in prayer. I like the result, because it shows how *fun* and interesting a life it is to live by faith:
    “Yet we have always been able to pay our bills, we have never gone hungry, and we have even had enough money for little treats here and there, or car repairs, or vacations… I know that stepping out in faith like this is so much fun! It is thrilling to know we have jumped off the cliff into the hands of the Almighty, and He is enough.”
    God is glorified by our faith– sometimes I think it’s the thing that absolutely glorifies and honors Him the most (AND gives Him pleasure– Heb. 11:6)– and so this life of faith is not only rich and interesting, but it brings glory to the sovereign God. Definitely a good thing!!

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