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Battle of the Givers

February 21, 2015

It was my third Sunday away from home. October 19, 2014. I sat in a church pew and we bowed our heads for prayer before the offering. My finances on this trip have been nothing short of God’s miraculous provision. It was agreed that once I came with Tim and Lynn, I would be included as part of the ministry team and my general needs like food and toiletries would be provided out of their same ministry fund. However, in order to quit my job and have zero income for an indefinite span of time, I needed a financial miracle prior to leaving in order to secure my monthly student loan payments. That was the first miracle, because God came through and provided for me an amount that would cover nearly six months of payments up front before I even left. This was His confirmation to me that I was to go and that it was Him sending me.

I was raised to understand the importance of tithing—giving God back a percentage of money that Scripturally belongs to Him. Since I have virtually had a job since I was 14 years old, I made it a habit that every paycheck I would calculate a precise percentage and then put it in the offering plate on Sundays. I have rarely found it to be difficult to part with that money and for 13+ years I’ve been doing it, mechanically and mindlessly.

Since we’re on the road all the time, almost every Sunday we go to a different church. Sometimes it’s to speak there, and other times just to attend. By the second Sunday, I had learned that Tim and Lynn are obsessive givers. I mean, we all sort of knew that already, right? But not just giving of their stuff—since they did sell and give it all away to the poor—but also giving with their money. Now who do you know that is obsessively giving of their money when they have no regular income? It doesn’t make much sense by the world’s standards. Nonetheless, two Sundays in a row I watched the two of them put money in the offering plate, and the Lord has shown me that these people don’t just give mechanically, nor mindlessly—they give because their lives depend on it. Tim and Lynn give, no matter how little they have in the bank account, because it is precisely in their giving that they will be provided for. I didn’t understand this yet, but I was about to.

The second Sunday, during the offering, I felt the Lord tugging at my heart to simply give something. My worn-out mechanics were shot here—I have nothing on which to tithe because I have no income. God, is this really good stewardship? You’ve given me this money, I don’t want to squander it by over-giving at the offering plate. I don’t even carry cash anyway. How is this practical? As the battle of the thoughts raged on, I stared at this cowboy’s rugged hand, holding loosely to his dollar bills as he gracefully dropped them into the plate. And I knew. I knew I was being invited into a test. A test to see just how faithful this God is that I say I have been serving my whole life.

I reached into my purse, surprised to find a wad of bills—a small amount of cash from my parents. I decided that each Sunday while this amount lasted, I would reach into my purse and pull out a bill, and whatever bill I pulled out I would put it in the offering plate.

I grabbed a random dollar bill and pulled it out. Ten dollars. Not that bad. Here we go. I dropped it in the plate as it passed by and exhaled a deep breath of accomplishment.

The third Sunday rolls around.

The ushers head to the front and we all bow our heads. I remember my agreement with God and I reach down for a dollar bill out of my purse. This time I pull out a twenty.

It’s amazing how the Lord shapes and molds us when we aren’t even aware of it, if we’ll just be willing to trust and obey. I didn’t even bat an eye at the amount and kept my head bowed until the prayer was ended. The music began playing as the ushers walked the aisles, and I neatly fold my twenty. As I’m looking down at this $20 bill in my hands, Lynn reaches over and places a $100 bill next to it in my hand. I place the two bills together as I anticipate dropping both of our offerings in the plate as the usher approaches, when Lynn says, “No, that’s for you.” I look at her, convinced I had heard wrongly, “What?”

“That’s for you. The Lord put it on our heart to give that to you.”

Uhh… excuse me? This makes zero sense. What??

And I looked down at my hands, a $20 bill in one, and a $100 bill in another. And I heard the Holy Spirit say to me,

You will never out-give Me.

Here I am, about to put a measly $20 bill in the offering plate at a church I have never been to, and before I even get the chance to do it, God gives me $100. Five times the amount I was about to give to Him.

We will never out-give God. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. All money is His money. The issue of giving is never about helping Him out. God doesn’t need you or your money. He is in love with you. That Love must gently pry your fingers from anything that interferes with it. Giving your money to God exercises a spiritual muscle. It is a practice and discipline of cleansing the throne of our hearts to seat only Him. He knows that an open hand yields a heart of release, and the man that clings the tightest loses the most, because he loses God on the throne of his heart.

For God, holding on means keeping. For you and me, holding on means losing—because we are not the author of provision, and we never will be. Letting go of our money, our possessions, our everything is an act of trust in the One that holds it all. Trusting that He has more to give us than we could ever have room to receive. Our death grips on our stuff reveal the vivid depths of our distrust in Him.

It would have been cool enough if it had been two $20’s in my hand that morning. I give a $20, God gives me a $20 back. But the Lord does not simply break even.

You will never out-give Me.

Our Lord is the Ultimate Giver. There is no other giver like Him, because no one else has as much as He has. No one and nothing comes close to His vast ocean of good gifts for His children. He calls us into this place of giving with Him to know a deeper fellowship with His heart. It is more blessed to give than to receive because the whole exchange has nothing to do with gifts, and everything to do with love.

“For God so loved the world that He gave…” ~John 3:16

Giving. It is the center of His heart of love for us. He will never ask us to give more than He gave. He will never ask us to give more than He can give back to us. You might not have one hundred dollars slapped in your hand while on your way to give twenty, but make no mistake—you can never out-give Him.

We can’t afford not to give. No matter how little we have, we cannot afford not to give. We will always have more in our giving than we do in our hoarding. It is incalculable by the world’s standards. Don’t try to measure it. Don’t try to compute it. It will never be comprehended under the world’s economic searchlight. God’s economy is only understood in the shadow of His wings, and the only path that leads us there is one of obedience. But how can we obey the One whom we have not believed and do not trust?

“Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” ~Matthew 7:9-11

He is more of a Giver than you could ever be. He is Jehovah Jireh: The Lord who provides.

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3 Comments

  • Reply Daddy February 21, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    Excellent and humbling!

  • Reply Deborah Rogers February 21, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    Yes yes yes! Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply Mike February 25, 2015 at 9:55 pm

    Crazy how that story started out being about your giving, but ended up being all about God’s giving instead!

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