What are two of the biggest reasons people don’t give their money away? The two most common answers are idolatry and fear. The idolatry of money is probably the most seductive idol that we ever face. Jesus saw this clearly, and spoke strong words against idolizing money. He said, “No one can serve two masters…You cannot serve both God and money” (Luke 16:13).
The second reason is probably not as well known, but seduces us to reject giving away our money just as seductively. We don’t give more because we are afraid. We ask ourselves, “What if I give away too much? What if there is not enough left for me? Will God really keep His promise to take care of me (see Malachi 3:10 where God not only promises to take care of us, but challenges us to test Him).
I read about Milton Scott who overcame any fears of giving money away. He started his own textile mill business which he ran with great success from the age of 25-102. He budgeted a small sum for himself, maintaining a small wardrobe, an inexpensive car he replaced every ten years, and lived in the home he had built for his bride in 1920.
He reserved the chance to go crazy spending money for projects that served God. He would spare no expense researching and funding new projects from smuggling Bibles behind the Iron Curtain to completely funding large missionary projects across all of South America. He would regularly empty his bank account two or three times a year, and while waiting for more money to come in he would research the next project. When a nephew oversaw his accounts the nephew would regularly tell him when he was out of money, and then when he had money again so he could spend it all again. When he died at the age of 106 it was estimated that for every year of his working life he gave 70-80% of his income away to projects he believed God wanted him to take care of. (Fields of Gold by Andy Stanley, pp. 22ff.).
How can we overcome our fear of giving? While reading about Milton Scott did you think about your own giving a little bit? Did you feel challenged? Convicted? Depressed? Would you ever consider giving 50 percent for kingdom work? Twenty percent? Ten percent? What if God called you to give beyond your comfort level?
The great reformer Martin Luther made this interesting observation in his “Table Talk” wittings. “God and the devil take opposite tactics in regard to fear. The Lord first allows us to become afraid, that he might relieve our fears and comfort us. The devil, on the other hand, first makes us feel secure in our pride and sins, that we might later be overwhelmed with fear and despair.” Methodist missionary and theologian Dr. E. Stanley Jones said this about fear, “I am inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear. Fear is not my native land; faith is. I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil. I live better by faith and confidence than by fear, doubt and anxiety. In anxiety and worry, my being is gasping for breath — these are not my native air. But in faith and confidence, I breathe freely — these are my native air.”
Have you ever calculated the percentage of your income you have ever given away in one year? Are you afraid that God won’t keep His promise to take care of you if you give the Biblical minimum of 10 percent back to God? What would it be like to trust God with your life so much that you admitted everything you have has been given to you by God, and give back large amounts of money to do God’s kingdom building work?
To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles, visit www.lagrangepres.com.