Monday, April 22, 2013

Let's Talk About Giving

Yesterday was Compassion Sunday and I had the privilege of speaking in front of our church congregation about our experience of sponsoring a child through Compassion International. We began sponsoring our first Compassion child two years ago; a 7 year old little girl named Estella living in Ghana, Africa. The theme of Compassion Sunday this year was how we can be "story changers" in the young lives of these children; most of them living in poverty and in areas at high risk for AIDS, Malaria, and other life-threatening illnesses. Yet as I stood there sharing our own sponsorship experience, I realized that sponsoring Estella has also been a "story changer" for our family.

When we first signed up to sponsor Estella for $38 a month, I remember we both felt a little uneasy about such a long-term financial commitment (you are encouraged to sponsor the same child until they graduate from the program around age 18). Not that $38 a month is a huge amount, but we always had other ways we could spend that money! But sponsoring Estella opened a door in our hearts regarding the concept of giving; not just being able to satisfactorily check off a box on our spiritual "to-do" list, but a complete heart change in the area of our finances.

Last year Robert stumbled upon a book our pastor in Eugene had given us when he married us over 7 years ago. It's a thin, tiny little book called The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn, but the message within its pages is goliath. The book is revolutionary. It has the potential to change your life - and not just your life here and now - but the life you will live for eternity When Robert started reading from it I cannot describe to you how my eyes were opened regarding money. If there is one book I could persuade, encourage, entice you to read, it is this one. I am going to share with you a few of the quotes that I highlighted, but know that the book is RICH in truth, each page brimming with good teaching, and biblical truth that the church has lost sight of. Sponsoring a child like Estella - which amazingly can do so much good in a life for such a small cost - should be just the tip of the iceberg in how we give! And Christ wants us to give cheerfully, obediently, and generously. Be a story changer - in your life and in the lives of many, many others.

"But when Jesus warns us not to store up treasures on earth, it's not just because wealth might be lost; it's because wealth will always be lost. Either it leaves us while we live, or we leave it when we die. No exceptions." The Treasure Principle, 13

"Whatever treasures we store up on earth will be left behind when we leave. Whatever treasures we store up in heaven will be waiting for us when we arrive...Every day is an opportunity to buy up more shares in His kingdom. You can't take it with you, but you can send it on ahead." The Treasure Principle, 18-19

"By telling us that our hearts follow our treasure, Jesus is saying, 'Show me your checkbook, your VISA statement, and your receipts, and I'll show you where your heart is." The Treasure Principle, 42

"[In] the raging current of our culture - and often our churches - it's considered "normal" to keep far more than we give. But I'm convinced that the greatest deterrent to our giving is this: the illusion that earth is our home..."Our citizenship is in heaven" (Philippians 3:20). Where we choose to store our treasures depends largely on where we think our home is." The Treasure Principle, 44-45

"He does not exist for me. I exist for Him. God's money has a higher purpose than my affluence." The Treasure Principle, 57

"Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse - the whole nation of you - because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house." Malachi 3:8-10

"The meaning of the word tithe is "a tenth part." Ten percent was to be given back to God. There were freewill offerings, too, but the 10 percent was mandatory...Nearly every study indicates that American Christians give on average between 2 and 3 percent of their income..." The Treasure Principle, 60-61

"Every New Testament example of giving goes far beyond the tithe. However, none falls short of it. 'God, do you really expect less of me - who has Your Holy Spirit within and lives in the wealthiest society in human history - than you demanded of the poorest Israelite?" The Treasure Principle, 60-61

"Whatever we're teaching about giving today either it's not true to Scripture, the message isn't getting through, or we're being disobedient. Tithing isn't the ceiling of giving; it's the floor." The Treasure Principle, 62

"Certainly the affluent should never "check off the box," as if giving 10 percent automatically fulfills their obligation. The 90 percent belongs to God, too. He doesn't look at just what we give. He also looks at what we keep." The Treasure Principle, 63

"Ironically, many people can't afford to give precisely because they're not giving (Haggai 1:9-11). If we pay our debt to God first, then we will incur His blessing to help us pay our debts to men. But when we rob God to pay men, we rob ourselves of God's blessing. No wonder we don't have enough. It's a vicious cycle, and it takes obedient faith to break out of it." The Treasure Principle, 64

"You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion." 2 Corinthians 9:11

"God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving." The Treasure Principle, 73

"Why does God give some of His children more than they need and others less than they need? So that He may use His children to help one another...Abundance isn't God's provision for me to live in luxury. It's His provision for me to help others live. God entrusts me with this money not to build my kingdom on earth, but to build His kingdom in heaven." The Treasure Principle, 75

Imagine the work God could be doing through us in this world - in our very nation - if we were faithfully giving not only the bare minimum (ten percent of all we earn/receive), but giving in abundance?! How do you think He intends to care for the poor, the widows, and orphans? He intends to use us! Are you sharing God's money with others or robbing God to use it all on yourself? This isn't a popular topic these days, but that doesn't mean it isn't important to God or that we won't be held accountable for how we manage our God's money. There are stories in this book of people who went from neglecting to tithe a true ten percent, who are now giving 50 - 95% of their income away!!! God wants to bless us as we bless others...maybe not with an earthly reward, but with a reward much greater that will last for all of eternity. 

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21


  1. I found you through Ann Voskamp's instagram post today....I was curious to find out more about you because I, too, am in Oregon. I also homeschool, love Jesus and am a Compassion sponsor and advocate! I'm guessing from this post that you are in Eugene...I'm farther north, just east of Portland in Troutdale.

    We just had Compassion Sunday at our church this past Sunday. I have a Compassion related blog called Compassion Family and posted about it there.

    Just thought I would say hi!

  2. Hi Jill! I'm so glad you introduced yourself!!! We are actually in Bend, but I went to grad school in Eugene:) I can't wait to check out your blog (I'm outside on my phone doing some gardening now; so I'll wait until I can give it my full attention!) Aren't Ann's writings and reflections beautiful? So happy to meet you!

  3. We dream of living in Bend....we try to go to Sunriver every couple of months just to escape the city. Maybe one day we can meet up.

  4. We own a vacation rental company in Sunriver: Bennington Properties! Yes! Maybe we could meet for coffee or tea next time you're in town! That would be lovely!