“Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.”
The Call to Give
In 1998 my eldest son Nick was accepted onto a Baptist Missionary Society gap year scheme that required him to raise £2,400 ($3,700) to cover his costs. He carried out some fund raising, but also received gifts from various individuals and organizations. It was around this time that I heard God tell me very clearly to make a specific financial gift to a person serving in full time ministry who needed to purchase a new car. I refused. It wasn’t that I didn’t have the money, it just sounded too much to give. Every day in my quiet time I heard God repeat Himself, but still I held back.
One Sunday morning after church a retired nurse from our congregation gave Nick a gift of £100 ($155) towards his gap year. When Nick told me, I went to thank her. She didn’t welcome my thanks, but told me that when God told her to make this gift her response was, “I couldn’t possibly give that much. I am just a pensioner.” But God repeated His instruction until she obeyed. As she related the background behind her gift I felt tears welling up in my eyes as I was challenged by my own disobedience.
As soon as I arrived home I wrote out a cheque (check) for the amount God had told me to give and posted it. I soon received a letter of grateful thanks, but had to write back and admit that I should have sent the gift three months earlier. That young man and his family are now serving God in Africa, but their need right then in 1998 was for a car so that they could continue to serve Him in the UK.
The Blessing of the Gift
What did that £100 and all the other gifts mean to Nick? It meant that he could spend six months in Trinidad working without pay as an assistant teacher in a poorly resourced Baptist school. Trinidad changed Nick’s career plans and it changed his life. Instead of looking to a career in journalism he next spent a year as a Youth for Christ volunteer, followed by three years training for youth ministry. Nick is currently serving as youth pastor at a church in the north of England.
The Message translation of Proverbs 3:27 says: ‘Never walk away from someone who deserves help. Your hand is God’s hand for that person.’ We may never see the true benefits of our gifts of help, time, or money. What matters is that we are obedient to God when He tells us to give. The blessing of the gift is that it blesses others, not just the immediate recipient.
And it pleases God.