A few years back, I was watching TV, and a commerical came on from one of my favorite charities. They dig water wells in Africa. This small gesture, about $4,000 per well, significantly reduced child diseases and raised mortality rates considerably, not to mention raising the entire standard of living with healthy livestock and fresh food being grown.
I wanted so badly to help, but I had exacly $16.67 in the bank. No savings, no 401K, no stocks or bonds…just $16.67.
So when I felt God say “so give $14!”, I was a little surprised. “But that leaves me with only $2 and change!” I protested. And the thought hit me – what was I going to do with $16 anyway? Was my situation going to change if I kept that $14?
Did I trust God and His promise of provision?
I gave the $14, and as you can see, I am still here. Through tough times, God has never, never let me down. Friends showed up with groceries, bills got paid mysteriously. God WILL take care of you. He’s also pretty clear in the Bible about the principles He has ordained, as foreign as they are to modern society.
In Leviticus, He tells us that when we harvest our fields (collect our paycheck) we are to leave some – the entire perimeter – for the poor and needy. Jesus exalts a poor widow who gives 2 mites, or two copper coins. It is not alot, but it was all she had. Why would she do such a thing? She knew God’s promise. And 2,000 years later she is still held up as an example for how we are to live. In the story of the Good Samaritan, we are told that while everyone else walked by, a stranger stopped and cared for the man on the side of the road. He didnt just help him to a hospital, or get him some food. No, he paid for his care and lodging for weeks. And although the English bible sanitizes the relationship of these two men, it would be like you paying for the care of a sworn enemy. Extravagantly.
When God needed someone to do a job, He never forced, He asked. It is always up to you. And what He says is “What is in your hand?” When Moses asked how he was to face Pharoah, God said “What is in your hand?” – it was a staff, and Moses used that staff, with God’s help, to do mighty things, not the least of which to part the Red Sea. When Jesus needed to feed 5,000, He asked for what was available. I am certain there were plenty of people that day who had brought food. But only a young boy came forth with what he had. Jesus used what was in His hand. And He can take the small offering in your hand, and do mighty things.
But you have to offer it to Him.
Last year, I was so frustrated that I had nothing to help people with. I asked God what He expected me to do. And He said “What is in your hand?” Well, let’s see. I still had a beautiful home, for that week at least. And I had some food, and I had a love for the bible, and a gift for encouragement. And so began my open house policy, whereby anyone who needs prayer or encouragement could stop by. There were times I offered them water and popcorn, all I had. But this house has seen much prayer, much laughter, many tears, and alot of healing. There is love here, you can feel it when you walk in. As long as this house is in MY hands, I will use it for Him.
I know the very, very best investment and growth strategy is to trust God, and give generously. It looks like foolishness to the rest of the world. He said it would. But it is God’s design. And when we operate in His ways, we see remarkable things.
What’s in your hand? What can you do?
If you have NOTHING, mow an elderly persons yard. Find a friend who is hurting and listen to them. Pray for everyone you know. Sit at a nursing home and hold someone’s hand. Pray for God to put someone in your path who needs encouragement – then strike up conversations. Watch a single mom’s kids for a night so she can go relax.
If you have $20, buy a homeless person a sandwich. Ask a hurting friend to have a cup of coffee. Set aside cynicism and give a few dollars to the man begging in the streets. Buy a small toy and bring it by a shelter.
If you have $100, buy someone a gas card. Give them groceries. Offer to have lunch with the lonely person with no friends. Start a “God pocket”, a fund set aside just for the people you run across who have a need.
If you have $1,000, pay someones electric bill or make their car payment. Find a kid who needs money to join a sports team. Take someone on a shopping spree to fill their pantry and freezer to overflowing. Buy some Bibles and carry them with you. You will be amazed who you meet. Ask an out of work parent what would bring their child joy, and provide it.
If you have more, consider this. You have more than most people in the world. Christ’s parable says “You fool, tonight your life will be required of you, and then what will come of your riches?” We are told to store up riches in heaven, not on earth where moths and rust will destroy.
I am believing for people to come forward and pay someone’s mortgage for a year. Save someone’s home out of foreclosure.
BUY THEM THE HOME.
I am believing for people to anonymously pay someone elses utilities bills, every month. For people to come home to groceries on their counter, every month. For children’s educations to be paid for.
I am believing that people will step out in faith and give extravagantly. Because if someone has a need for $500, and we have the $500 but choose to give them $50 thinking we have done our part, we miss the point.
Too often, our giving does not alleviate the need, it simply assuages our conscience. I am challenging people to actually alleviate needs. Completely.
Radical? You know it. But Christ was radical. And He said “USE what is in your hand” NOT tighten your grip around it. The world’s ways seem sturdy, but have failed time and again. God’s ways, radical and alien, are the only sure ways to be safe.
Trust Him. I dare you.