ROCHESTER, Minn. (BP) – As a kid, our family struggled financially, and as a result, I rarely got an allowance. But when I did, I was taught to give some of it back to the Lord. I heard regularly about the tithe (10 percent) but when I got a quarter, it seemed easiest to give a nickel back to Jesus – that’s 20 percent! When I started babysitting, I tithed. When I got an adult job, I tithed. I still remember the first time, as a college student, when I gave over $100. That was over 40 years ago, yet I fear half the people in church today have never given a check that large. I feel sorry for them. They’ll likely never know the joy of giving.
I’ll never forget when a businessman joined the church I pastored. We’d been friends and even worked together on projects in our city. He made an appointment with me and stunned me with these words. “I tithe on my income and will give it faithfully to the church every time I pay myself.” Then he went on, “I also tithe off the earnings of my three businesses. As my pastor, I’ll bring my income statements to you quarterly, and I want you to help me find out where God wants the money to go.” He knows the joy of giving!
I’ll never forget when I had a breakfast meeting with a man who was selling his lifelong business of more than 40 years. He said, “Pastor, my wife and I have never really made much money all these years, but this is our one opportunity to give a great deal to the Lord. How much would it cost us to pave that parking lot?” They gave more than $40,000 to get it done and then more than $10,000 for outreach projects. That couple knows the joy of giving!
I’ll never forget having lunch with a man who was supervising the construction of our new sanctuary. He’d been hired back on to help the company he’d recently retired from. I asked him about the bills for the steel that hadn’t come through the office. He look down and the table, embarrassed, and said, “Pastor, they’re paying me a lot of money right now that my wife and I didn’t expect. I think God gave it to us for this purpose.” I estimate he paid more than $30,000 in bills we never saw. That couple knows the joy of giving!
Just recently I received a Facebook message from old friends who had been a part of the church I pastored 25 years ago. He asked, “Could you use some money to help with the work up there? What could you use?” I sent him back a request for $1,000 to help two pastors’ families during some difficult times. He wrote back, “Pastor, you’re thinking too small.” Ultimately, he sent us $11,000 to help fund a retreat for pastors and their wives as well as meet the two needs I’d mentioned. That couple knows the joy of giving!
At our church here in Rochester, we’ve been presented opportunity after opportunity the past two months. We’ve given people the opportunities to give for Ukraine war relief, help a partner church in Cuba buy cement, help a missionary couple get to their mission field with the International Mission Board, support church planting in North America through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, purchase a new playground for our church and send our kids on a mission trip to Iowa. Many times I feel like we ask too much of the people at Emmanuel. They give, and give and give. They know the joy of giving!
R.G. LeTourneau, one of the most successful inventors, engineers and businessmen of the last century gave 90 percent of his income back to God. He is purported to have said, “I shovel out the money, and God shovels it back – but God has a bigger shovel.” This is the joy of giving!
Sarah and I don’t have enough money to give it all at once, so we are shoveling out our gifts as God shovels them in. In the next couple of months, I’ll get paid for teaching opportunities that will allow me to give. I believe God gave us these extra dollars, so we could give most of it away. This is so much fun. This is the joy of giving!
“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25).