A friend who was deeply in debt to the government because of unpaid income taxes invited me to have lunch with him to discuss how to find a way out of his money misery. I expected he would ask me to pray for him and share some advice about debt reduction, but instead he surprised me by saying he had concluded that the only way out of his debt problem was to give his way out. At a later meeting, he assured me that his faith based plan was working.
R. G. Letourneau, a road construction contractor and builder of earth moving equipment, was facing bankruptcy. At that critical time of his life, his church was having a missionary conference in which pledges were being received for prospective annual donations. While sitting with the choir, Letourneau found his heart so moved by the missionary needs and opportunities being presented that he decided to make the largest pledge of his life... and his faith was rewarded.
New ideas for building and using big equipment started coming into the mind of this struggling businessman that when implemented not only enabled him to honor his pledge but pay his creditors. As his income increased, so did Letourneau’s giving and his ability to help others. He then built manufacturing plants that employed great numbers of workers and established two colleges.
Hudson Taylor, the still highly regarded pioneer missionary to China, said everything he had ever given to God and His work had been repaid with more than his original gift. In effect, he saw that giving doesn’t enrich God but withholding impoverishes us.
Once when Taylor had only a small amount of money and his absent minded employer had forgotten to pay him, a poor man came requesting that he come and pray for his wife, who, he said, was dying.
Following this troubled man home, Hudson found a family living in extreme poverty. He knelt to pray for the dying woman but felt hypocritical. The money in his pocket (even though it was a small amount) hindered his prayer so he arose and gave it to the people he had come to help.
Hudson Taylor’s prayer was answered: the woman recovered.
Later, describing this experience, Taylor wrote that he felt his life of faith would have been wrecked had he not been willing to give what he had to that destitute family believing that God would take care of him. The next morning a gift to this giving man arrived from an anonymous donor that was four times the amount he had given away.
John Bunyan, of “Pilgrim’s Progress” fame expressed the miracle of giving and receiving through the following rhyme tacked to my office wall:
“A man there was, though some did count him mad; The more he gave away the more he had.”
But neither my faith testing friend, nor R.G. Letourneau, nor Hudson Taylor, nor John Bunyan originated the concept of receiving by giving. Our Lord said it first and best:
“Give and it shall be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over”(Luke 6:38).