Tag Archives: Giving

Don’t Be a Scrooge

Anthony, Grady, and Daniel

Anthony, Grady, and Daniel

(A Note from the desk of the Editor: It was truly a privilege to host Daniel Klem and his wife, Caitlin, when they visited Chattanooga a few years ago. It was the first time we ever had the chance to meet in person. We thank the Lord for brothers and sisters in Christ! Also in the picture is Grady Davidson, who also just met Daniel – Grady and I already knew each other.)

Proverbs 11:24-26

“There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself. He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.”

First let me clear up the potentially confusing part:

This is not political!

Now let me explain this a bit:

This particular passage basically says “Some people give all they have, yet they always have what they need or more. Others hold onto everything they think they have, but they really have nothing. The former are loved and lavished upon. The latter are hated.”

Misers versus Givers

Do you know the story by Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol? I am specifically talking about Ebenezer Scrooge.

He is known as the stingiest man in town. He counts every cent, never spends more than he absolutely has to, and is not very kind to others.

Nobody likes him.

And the Ghost of Christmas-Yet-to-Come shows him dying alone and his stuff stolen by nere-do-wells who complain about and ridicule him.

Conversely, I know a family who is always struggling to make ends meet. Yet they always have enough food to eat. In fact, they have dozens of people visit on an average of at least once a week. They have been literal and figurative foster parents to many children, teens, and young adults, and their biological children always know they are loved and accepted. They have traveled all over and impacted so many …

… because they give their all, their everything, for all people.

Physical and Spiritual

To be truly blessed in this life, we need to be willing to give up everything. This means money, things, cars, homes, stuff, and even people.

To be truly blessed, we need to be willing to give up literally everything. We need to be willing to die. Die physically and figuratively to our own selves, our wants and desires, our plans and hopes.

In their place, we must put the Love of God. God is our greatest hope, should be our greatest desire, and be the foundation of all our plans and our lives.

Then we will not be able to help loving others and giving of ourselves.

Ask that family.

Gracious and loving Father, instill in us a desire to love. Fill us with a passion for others. Give us more of You than we can handle that we may see You overflow into others. Do not let us get stuck on things and silly desires. Free us to free others.

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True Substance

Proverbs 3:9-10

“Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”

It is great that the King James Version says “Honour the LORD with thy substance,” because most other translations say wealth. It is also great that it says “with the firstfruits of all thine increase,” because most other translations say crops or produce.

It is great, because these words say so much more.

Giving it all

Allow me to paraphrase: “Give God everything of who you are and let God use you and what you have, and give God the first part of anything you get above what you have.”

This is not a prosperity gospel message, but if you honor God with what you have He will give you more. If you continue giving back when you get more, you will find your barns (or bank account or pantry or whatever) full and more than you can handle.

But it is because you are thinking about God and others, not yourself and how comfortable you are. It is because you are focused on pleasing God, not growing your portfolio or your bank account.

Jesus mentioned it, too

In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus discusses that those who show they are good stewards of what they are given are given more. Those who sit on, hide, or squander what they are given will have it taken away. (But we must also remember that in all things “the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD,” (Job 1:21) must be true. Even good stewards may see everything taken away if it is for the good of the Church and glorifies God.)

The true increase and blessing is the joy of our Heavenly Father in our faithfulness and commitment to Him. We honor God because He deserves it and we love Him. We give because He gives and we love Him.

If we give simply because we expect something in return, then we should expect nothing. We are not honoring God; we are honoring ourselves.

Gracious God, Thank You for Your love and Your grace. Increase Your love in us. Give us giving hearts and a will to seek after You alone, that You may be glorified in us.


Social Justice with God’s Justice

Here is a dangerous post for this day and age.

Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more. -Proverbs 31:6-7, KJV

It certainly sounds as though Scripture is calling for helping the poor and needy to get drunk. So, when you see the panhandler and the homeless begging for money, just get them that drink you know they are just gonna buy, anyway!

Or …

We can remember that this passage is speaking of the wise ruler avoiding such things, to “Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.” (Titus 2:6)

As co-heirs with Christ, we are to remain sober and help others to come to sober-mindedness in all things, but we must not be judgmental of those who feel the need to drown their sorrows.

Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy. . . . She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. -Proverbs 31:8-‬9‭, ‬20 KJV

Michael also spoke to this this week. It should be the job of the Christian man and woman to help those in need and “be a voice for the voiceless.” (And remember that the original meaning of dumb was “mute” or “voiceless”, not stupid.)

I am not one for going after “social justice” as it is called today. This modern movement has a tendency to forget the most important aspect in its desire to be all-inclusive, and a reason I like the King James translation of this passage: the Gospel.

The “social justice movement” has a tendency to meet physical needs yet ignore the underlying problems or blow those problems out of proportion. To “open thy mouth for the dumb . . . as are appointed for destruction” reminds us that we need to tell a fallen and messed up world that they are headed for Hell without faith in Christ.

Should we stand up for the poor? Absolutely.

The drunk and drug addicted? Without question.

The “minority” of non-whites (as well as mistreated whites) around the world? Undeniably.

Even the homosexual, transgender, and queer? Yes, yes, and yes.

But we do so while remembering that they are all poor in righteousness, hopelessly sinful in their natural state, and in need of a Savior.

We are to be peacemakers and show this world love and charity.

And we are to share the Gospel.

To do otherwise (on both counts) is to play God and condemn their souls to destruction. To have social justice without revealing God’s justice is unloving and cruel.


This Ain’t No Prosperity Gospel

Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain. –Proverbs 25:14, KJV

In Acts chapter 5, we hear of Ananias and Sapphira. They were the couple in the fledgling Church in Jerusalem who joined in the spree of selling property and laying the proceeds at the Apostles’ feet.

They are notable for being the people who said they had given everything from the sale, but in truth they held some back. The issue was not keeping some of the money for themselves but lying to the Church and, more importantly, the Holy Spirit. And the Spirit struck them dead for it.

Why, and why is this so important?

First, God was protecting His young Church. He did not want Christ’s Bride defiled immediately after the betrothal.

But He wants people who sow real seeds of blessing. Not to help those in power or receive something in return. Not to make themselves look better in the eyes of other people.

No, (and if you will allow me to get a tad allegorical) God wants His people to give gifts that can rain down and blow across the harvest field of souls.

He is not as concerned with someone’s personal prosperity as with the prosperity of His Church, that she can grow in meaningful number and relationship with Him.

If you boast of your giving of time, money, and resources to the mission of the Church, but that contribution is not as big as you imply (if at all), then you are stealing from and misrepresenting the witness of God and abusing His bride.

God may want a joyful giver, but He would rather you be an honest person who never helps than one who boasts of what in truth he has never done.


Am I mocking the poor?

Jesus is clear that we will always have poor people with us. We always have. We always will. That isn’t the issue.

Whoever mocks poor people insults their Creator; gloating over misfortune is a punishable crime. ~King Solomon

Source: Proverbs 17:5 (The Message Bible)

Jesus challenges me to give directly to the poor. I am to do what I can to help. God’s goal for me is to love. Jesus challenges me to not judge. I don’t need to understand why someone is poor. God knows why.

Insulting and mocking the poor is insulting God. It is wrong and it is criminal. It is a moral failure on my part when I do it. I will be held accountable for what I say and do. I will be held accountable to God’s standard of love.

We should assess our leaders on their attitude about the poor. Do they love the poor? Do they help the poor? Do they “judge” the motives of the poor?

“Misfortune” does happen. It is possible, to get laid off from work and become poor. I shouldn’t gloat over that. My goal is to love.

I believe that Jesus wants us to do everything we can to help the poor and those who do not have a place to live. We are to care for the hungry and feed them. We are to care for the thirsty and give them something to drink.We are to care for the stranger and invite them into our home. We are to care for the naked and give them clothing. We are to care for the sick. We are to care for those in prison and visit them. These are the clear expectations of Jesus (Matthew 25:34-40).

  • As Jesus remarked to Judas Iscariot, ‘You always have the poor with you’ (John 12:8). Looking around at the cities, towns and refugee camps of our world, we might make this remark more specific and say, ‘we always have the homeless with us.’ Jesus had some powerful things to say about the situation of the homeless, and did many things for them. He was also a homeless person himself.
  • The Bible speaks plainly about poverty: “If any of your Israelite relatives fall into poverty and cannot support themselves, support them as you would a resident foreigner and allow them to live with you. Do not demand an advance or charge interest on the money you lend them. Instead, show your fear of God by letting them live with you as your relatives” (Leviticus 25:35-36 ).
  • “No, the kind of fasting I want calls you to free those who are wrongly imprisoned and to stop oppressing those who work for you. Treat them fairly and give them what they earn. I want you to share your food with the hungry and to welcome poor wanderers into your homes. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. If you do these things, your salvation will come like the dawn. Yes, your healing will come quickly. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind” (Isaiah 58:6-8).
  • Then the King will say to those on the right, `Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ Then these righteous ones will reply, `Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?’ And the King will tell them, `I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’” (Matthew 25:34-40).
  • So many people ignore the poor and homeless, partly because they believe there is little they can do to “fix” them. And they are absolutely right. In fact, it is not God’s intention that we “fix” them any more than it is His intention that they “fix” us. It is God’s intent that they follow Jesus as their King and savior.
  • Jesus tells us that we are one body in the Messiah. Everyone — rich, poor, every race, every age — has a legitimate role to play in that body. We may go to a homeless camp or an orphanage or a rest home with the intention of helping someone else, but ultimately, we will be helping each other grow together into the body the Messiah envisioned from the beginning of time.

All About Integrity

Proverbs chapter eleven is all about integrity.

What does inegrity entail?

Honesty

Telling the truth and doing what’s right is important. Honesty is life-affirming, acknowledging the image of God in others, and, honestly, keeping life simple. It is easier to keep your story straight when you tell the truth and do what’s right.

Responsibility

Doing what’s right, doing what one ought, is also life-affirming. Sin is most often associated with what we did wrong, but it includes what we don’t do that we should. If we did what was needed when it should be done (right away or when time allows), life would be easier. Owning mistakes is included, as growth comes more quickly. It is irresponsible to shift the blame or hope “someone else will do it.” It is better to do what is right, even if someone else could or should do it.

Generosity

Giving to others or taking up the burden of another demonstrates generosity. And – you probably guessed it – it is life affirming. It shows love to others. It tells others “You are worth it.” It clears up problems before they even exist or before they are out of control.

Living with Integrity

If you want to live with integrity, live out the concepts of Proverbs. Take five minutes and read the entire chapter and see how integrated and interrelated all of these concepts are.

They represent God’s character, and living with integrity makes your character more like His.

“Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)


Rich or Poor

Proverbs 22:16  

He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.
One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and one who gives gifts to the rich – both come to poverty. (NIV)

There is a school of thought that says that without poverty wealth could not exist; that one man’s poverty is another man’s riches. But I’m not rich you say! I work hard to pay my mortgage and my car loan, and to feed and clothe my family. However, if you have a mortgage on a property that boasts running water, heat and light, etc., then you are rich in comparison to many fellow citizens of planet earth.

Is it wrong then to own property? I don’t think so, but I do believe that it is necessary for all of us to examine ourselves, and the way that we live. Do we give, and are we generous in our giving? Or do we keep all that we have for ourselves justifying our actions by believing that we cannot afford to give? Is giving just about money? What about time? What about company? And at its most basic level what about a smile or a greeting for each person you meet? Just yesterday I said good morning to a man sweeping the floor at Dublin Airport. All the other passengers walked past without looking at him. It cost me nothing, but by his response I knew that my greeting was appreciated.

There is also a danger of pride in financial giving. Carefully setting aside that 10% tithe and feeling good about it is not what giving is all about. Jesus pointed out the poor widow who put all that she had in the offertory box. Tony Campolo once said that we should forget about the 10% we tithe and question what we do with the 90% we keep for ourselves. One thing for certain is that whatever we have in material terms it cannot leave the planet with us. So why then do we hoard? Could it be that this proverb is aimed at all of us, to encourage generosity in all aspects of our daily lives?