(Photo: NewSpring Church via The Christian Post)
I surrendered my life to Jesus in 1990; however, I did not surrender my finances to Him until 1999.
It was a battle! I believed I could trust God with my eternity, but was not sure I could trust Him with my money. How insane is that?
BUT…in 1999 I COMPLETELY SURRENDERED my finances to Jesus. I began to tithe and also tried my best to listen to the Holy Spirit as He led me in certain situations to be generous.
If someone were to ask me why I give-the following four reasons are my answer.
#1 – I want to be a fully devoted follower of Christ.
I once heard someone say that He is either Lord OF ALL or He is not Lord AT ALL. And it took me quite a few years to realize that this included my money as well.
As I mentioned earlier, I trusted Him with my salvation and that He had promised me a place in heaven, but I could not trust Him with my money. I began to realize how insane and hypocritical that was for me.
I began to see verses like Colossians 1:17 – which is a promise that IN HIM ALL THINGS hold together.
I took a look at my finances, which were completely in shambles, and realized I had tried to do it all on my own and was NOT being very successful. By the time I married Lucretia in April of 2000, we had over $100,000 in debt and didn't even own a home!
- I saw that Jesus said that I should tithe in Matthew 23:23.
- I saw that Jesus said that my heart will always follow my money in Matthew 6:21.
- I saw that Jesus said that I could not serve both Him and money in Matthew 6:24.
- And I heard someone tell me that until my wallet was fully surrendered to God that my walk with Him would always have a limp.
I finally came to the conclusion that it was a spiritual impossibility to be a fully devoted follower of Christ without being completely surrendered in my finances.
#2 – I believe that it is impossible to out give God!
Either the Bible is true and can be completely trusted…or it is false and cannot be trusted at all.
Personally, I have bet my life and eternity that the Bible is true. I have NEVER met anyone who had pain and regret in their lives because they had decided to live by Biblical principles.
With that in mind…
- The Bible says in Proverbs 3:9-10 that if we will put God first He will bless us-period.
- The Bible says in Malachi 3:10-12 that if we will tithe (give the first 10% of our income) that God will pour out so much blessing that we will not have room for it.
- The Bible says in II Corinthians 9:6-15 that if we sow financial generosity we WILL reap generously.
- The Bible tells a story in John 6:1-13 of a little boy who had five loaves and two fish, put them in the hands of Jesus and He multiplied them, fed over 15-20 thousand people and then took up 12 baskets of leftovers!!
I can honestly say I believe it is IMPOSSIBLE to out give God. When we, in faith, put Him first He will honor us doing so because He said He would.
#3 – I believe there is not a greater organization with more potential to change the world than the local church!
Let me say that before I begin my explanation that there are godly people who really do love Jesus who are on both sides of this issue. However, I personally believe (based on my study of Scripture and personal convictions) that the tithe (the first 10% of our income) belongs to the local church-period.
There are some who argue they "tithe" to schools, hospitals and parachurch organizations.
I believe with all of my heart that Christians should be THE MOST GENEROUS people on the planet and should be the first to financially support worthy causes. But I also believe Scripture is clear that the tithe should be brought to the local church.
- Malachi 3:10 says the tithe should be brought to the house of God.
- Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 that HE will build HIS church-which I believe means it is His house.
- Colossians 1:18 and Ephesians 1:22 say that He is the HEAD of the church! (If He is the head, meaning he is like the CEO, then believe me...IT MATTERS!)
- Ephesians 3:10 says it is THROUGH THE CHURCH that the wisdom of God should be made known to the world!
- In the book of Revelation we see Him come back for HIS CHURCH!
What schools, hospitals and other organizations are doing is not bad; however, the church is the ONLY organization that has been around for 2,000 years…and is the ONLY investment that will STILL be going from today until eternity.
And, when the local church is working right-there is nothing more powerful and breathtaking in the world because it's the place where lost people are found, found people grow to love Jesus more, addicts are set free, people who were excluded get included, hopeless people find hope, marriages are restored, forgiveness is extended to other people and God gets the glory for it all!!
#4 – I Believe Giving Protects Me From Materialism And Greed.
Some of you know my story, but for those who don't…I have experienced first hand what it is like to live in poverty.
My father made some bad decisions after my mother died in 1982 and, as a result…
- I know what it is like to have to move to another state because my dad could not pay his bookie the gambling debt he had racked up.
- I know what it is like to be homeless because after my dad was arrested in 1988 we lost our home and I had to live with whoever I could "spend some time with."
- I know what it is like to pawn your high school ring for $50 so I could have money to live on.
- I know what it is like to work in the lunchroom at the school you attend NOT because you want to, but because you need to eat and you did not have lunch money.
- I know what it is like to literally have no idea where the next meal is coming from.
- I know what it is like to have to depend on government assistance to survive.
I could go on, but you get the point. I have lived in complete rat holes and driven cars that were held together by prayer and duct tape!!
After I surrendered my finances to God I realized that MY NEXT STEP after tithing was to get out of debt-and that required a PLAN (Proverbs 21:5)! BY THE WAY-NO ONE HAS EVER PRAYED THEIR WAY OUT OF DEBT!!!
After being seriously committed to our plan, my wife Lucretia and I were able to become debt free in 2006.
And that is when I began to REALLY notice passages such as Luke 12:13-21, I Timothy 6:6-10 and I Timothy 6:17-19. And these passages shook me to the core to see that greed and materialism had the potential to take my eyes off of Jesus and put them in places they do not belong…and as a result my desire to acquire could go haywire.
Don't get me wrong, I do not think it is a sin to have nice things. It does becomes a sin when nice things have you.
People who are able to get ahead financially often forget that EVERYTHING on the planet belongs to God (Psalm 24:1). HE is the One who actually gave us the ability to produce income (Deuteronomy 8:18)!
With this in mind…Lucretia and I have made several decisions in our financial journey to be generous when we could have chosen otherwise. Two I will mention on this post because I have spoken about them previously are…
1 – We made the decision that every single dollar that was made from my first book, "Unleash" would be given to NewSpring Church. I did not receive any advance money for the book-the church did. I will receive no royalties on the book at any point in the future-NewSpring Church will.
2 – Lucretia and I have been saving money to buy land and build a house "in the middle of nowhere." Both of us DREAM of being able to live in the country one day. However, during our church's recent Step Up capital campaign, the Lord led us to give every bit of money we had saved for what we wanted to something HE wanted…the building and expansion of His church.
As I look back on both of those decisions I am THANKFUL the LORD led us to them. It is so easy in our culture to get so caught up in ourselves that we lose sight of how good God is and how many awesome things He has done.
Let me conclude by saying that these are my personal reasons as to why I give. They may not be yours. You may need to develop your own list of why you do (or do not) give. My prayer is that they will serve you as you continue to think, research and pray about the financial decisions you need to make in your own future.
You really cannot out give God!!!