God Blesses Faithful Givers
A missionary was sitting in a small corner restaurant reading a letter delivered from home. As she opened the letter, a crisp, new twenty-dollar bill caught her attention. Needless to say, she was pleasantly surprised, but, as she read the letter, her eyes were distracted by the movement of a raggedly dressed man on the sidewalk leaning against a light post in front of the building. She couldn’t get his peculiar condition and stature off her mind. Thinking that he might have greater financial need than she, she slipped the bill into an envelope on which she quickly penned “persevere.” Leaving the restaurant, she nonchalantly dropped the envelope at the stranger’s feet.
Turning slowly, he picked it up, read it, watched the woman walk away, and smiled as he tipped his hat and went his way.
The next day walking down the street, she felt a tap on her shoulder. She found the same shabbily dressed man smiling as he handed her a roll of bills. When she asked what they were for, he replied: “That’s the money you won, lady. Persevere paid five to one.”
There is a serious moral to this story: It is impossible to give unselfishly of ourselves without being blessed in return. In Proverbs 3:10, we are told that, when we give God our first and best, “our barns will be filled with plenty.” Proverbs 22:9 tells us, “A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.” Jesus tells us that as we give it will be given back to us (Luke 6:38). God promises us through His Word that He will bless those who give faithfully. The blessings that we can be certain of are spiritual blessings and, for some, financial blessings as well. Giving is a blessing for both the giver and the recipient. The recipients of our gifts are blessed in receiving our gifts, and we are blessed in giving them.
God in the Driver’s Seat
In our spiritual journeys, some of us have, through faith, placed God in the driver’s seat allowing Him to control and steer us in the right direction. Sadly many of us have pushed God into the back seat where His input and guidance are ignored. Is God in the driver’s seat in your life? C. S. Lewis tells us, “There are two types of people. There are those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, ‘Okay, then, have it your way.”’ If God’s grace has empowered you to put Him in the driver’s seat of your life, His will will be done, and your life will be filled with greater joy, purpose, and fulfillment. God has a plan for our lives. He wants to lavish His favor on us, but we can experience God’s
transforming power only if we allow Him to be in the driver’s seat.
We may be averse to allowing God to be in the driver’s seat in our journeys because it means giving up control of our lives. We are often eager to relegate Him to the
backseat, so we are free to do as we please. By nature, we are independent people who desire to focus on ourselves. We are more interested in living self-indulgent and self-gratifying lifestyles that focus on worldly pleasures. With God in the back seat, we go in that direction, but we will find that path leads only to despair, defeat, and loneliness.
Empowered by grace, we place God in the driver’s seat so He can be in control of our lives. God’s direction will be in sharp contrast to the self-centered lives we live
without Him. We go where He drives us. As the driver, He controls the speed of our journey. He is able to slow or speed things up. His destination becomes our destination. He will pick up many people along the way with whom we can build relationships and share the Gospel. He stops along the way so we can be of help to those in need. All the time, we, through faith, are allowing Him to be in control as He steers and leads us. Our ride continues until He takes us to His heavenly home.
“The Wise Woman’s Stone”
“A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the ∑wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation.
The traveler left rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime.
But a few days later, he came back to return the stone to the wise woman. ‘I’ve been thinking,’ he said. ‘I know how valuable this stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me this stone.'” (Hallmark Greeting Card)
In this story, we have two travelers. The male traveler initially celebrated what he thought was his wonderful new fortune. This precious stone given to him by the lady would provide him with a lifetime of financial security. However, he makes a 180 turn in his thinking when he realizes that the generous heart demonstrated by the lady was even more precious than the stone itself. In his new paradigm, he sees life differently, and he has a new perspective on life. He realizes that a giving and compassionate heart is more important than earthly treasures.
The questions for us to consider are “Where is my heart?” “What is most important to me?” and “How do I develop a generous heart?” Stewardship is about the heart. Those who love Jesus faithfully serve and follow Him wholeheartedly. Martin Luther said that to be faithful stewards we need three conversions. “We need conversions of the mind, heart, and pocket books.” It has been said that the most sensitive nerve in the human body is the one that runs from the heart to the pocketbook.
The condition of our hearts determines whether we will serve ourselves, the things of this world, or Jesus. When our hearts are right with God, He can use us to make a difference in people’s lives. Stewardship is not about money, and it is not about a bunch of external rules and regulations. But rather, it is about the heart. It’s about a personal relationship with Jesus. It is a relationship created by and energized by God’s own love. We love because God first loved us. Stewardship is the expression of our love for the Lord. Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching” (John 14:23).
Love is the response of the heart to the overwhelming goodness of God. Love is what motivates us to obey and to give. Love motivates us to be givers rather than takers. It is often said, “Love made me do it.”