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« Are You Making Too Much Money? | Main | Where Are You Wearing Your Heart? »

Stretch To Excellence, Or Shrink Into Selfishness?

africa.jpg New Guinea, Burma, Slovakia and over one hundred and seventy other nations thank God for missions-minded churches like ours. These poor, remote believers worship in buildings we helped to build, study in Bible schools we helped establish and use literature we helped buy. Dedicated missionary families whom we help support work hard in these countries to get the gospel out. I have personally have shaken the hands and hugged the necks of many of these national preachers and missionaries who have showered me with thanks. In the Philippines, Korea, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Jamaica, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Chili and Greece, I have witnessed the awesome results of our giving to Foreign Missions.

In March, the First Apostolic Church renews its commitment to take the gospel to the regions beyond. Since 1970, we have joyfully raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Foreign Missions. I have never regretted giving even one dollar to this cause. When any church gives to a cause bigger than itself, it stretches into spiritual growth. On the other hand, when a church shuts down its giving impulse, it stagnates into selfishness and barrenness.

Giving mystifies the uninitiated. First, they think in terms of “their money.” Then, they insist that rascals (i.e. the churches, pastors missionaries) are out to take it away from them. When they occasionally wonder if they ought to give some of it away, they get an acute case of “I-Need-It-Myself-itus.”

In my experience, however, it is when people give, and then stretch to give a little bit more, that they break into an awesome realm of faith. It is the financial version of sowing and reaping, asking and receiving, and suffering the pain to get the gain. In fact, so many good things arise out of a giving spirit that I am convinced that it is a major requirement of discipleship. Examine the following principles that form the basis of giving:

Give cheerfully. It’s a spirit God loves.
Give purposefully. It means you build it into your budget.
Give generously. It’s good “greed therapy.”
Give compassionately. It makes hard hearts soft.
Give regularly. It’s a wonderful habit.
Give responsively. It keeps you open to needs.
Give sacrificially. It exalts the soul.

Nothing captures the essence of Christianity more than giving. “For God so loved the world that he gave …” Thus, every sincere believer should plunge into a life of giving on two fronts: The conviction that it is right and the expectation of spiritual growth. Giving not only benefits the beneficiary, it profoundly effects the giver. Couple that with the unprecedented need of foreign missions, and we have a compelling mandate to stretch to excellence.

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