Below is an article written by my brother, Peter Nelson, a member at our home congregation, the Keller Church of Christ. Thanks brother for your words of encouragement to me and to others.
Why give? Why now?
By: Peter J. Nelson
September 28, 2011
Once a year, my home congregation has a “Mission Sunday” in which, as a congregation, we offer additional monies, outside of our normal offering, to help fund evangelism and missions around the world. As a new Christian, I struggled with giving money to the church. Not necessarily because I did not want to give, but because my pre-Christian budget did not include sacrificial giving and setting aside money to give to the church, so it was difficult to adjust that budget and give back consistently. The first year I was a Christian and attended Mission Sunday, it caught me unprepared. There were people that had been saving all year long to put their Mission Sunday offering on to the plate as it was passed around. I had not been saving, and I wasn’t sure what to do. I’m sure there were people present that day that donated hundreds, thousands, or maybe even tens of thousands of dollars to further God’s kingdom. I was a single income supporter of a wife and 4 children (at the time) and I didn’t have thousands of dollars in the bank, let alone thousands or even hundreds to give away. I felt like I didn’t have much to give, so why bother?
Have you ever felt like don’t have enough to give to make a difference? Have you ever felt like what you had is not even enough to do anything with? Maybe you say to yourself: “I’ll be in better financial shape next year.” “When these few deals work out”, or “when this stock finally takes off”, or “when my car gets paid off, then I can really make a contribution that will make a difference, so I’ll hold off this year and I’ll just put in more next year when I’ve had a chance to save more and when I can give more.” I mentioned those particular things because that is exactly what was going through my head.
As I have grown in my faith and understanding as a Christian, as I have looked to God for answers and wisdom, and as I have reflected upon my own life, I have learned why it is important to give, and why it is important to give now rather than later.
Matthew 14:14-21, Matthew 15:32-39, Mark 6:34-44, Mark 8:1-10, Luke 9:12-17, and John 6:1-13 are all very similar accounts of a situation where there were very large crowds to feed and very little food on hand. In each situation, Jesus’ disciples ask to send the people away because there are too many, or they question how such an impossible problem could be solved without more resources than they had with them. In John’s account, Jesus even asked “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” Jesus knew. He knew how to feed thousands. He knows how to feed millions. He has the power. I feel like this is not just an account of a miracle that Jesus performed, it is an example of how we should give and let God provide the increase. We see in these accounts that there was a need, and Jesus clearly recognized the need. He asked what they had on hand, and asked that they bring what they had to Him. Notice that He did not go along with sending the people off to fend for themselves. He didn’t ask the disciples to go home and gather their resources to bring back to feed them later. He wasn’t deterred from their hopeless statements of how much it would cost to feed so many. Jesus took the bread they had (and 2 fish in some accounts) and said a blessing over the food. I’m not exactly sure who had the bread and fish (in John it was a little boy), but could you imagine how different the story would be if no one brought to Jesus what they could, even if it was such a small amount in regards to the thousands to be fed? Maybe there was some in the crowds that had some food, but decided it was not enough and were thinking “I don’t have much to give, so why bother? I’ll keep this for myself”. In the scriptures listed above, it is made very clear in each case that a man (or boy) first gave whatever he had, although it seemed as though it was not enough (“…Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” – John 6:8-9), so that God could provide the increase and multiply what was given to feed thousands on a small family’s worth of food. Not only did He take the 5 loaves and 2 fish and feed thousands (not including women and children), but there was a serious abundance left over (a lot more than they started with)! And the scripture states “and they all ate and were satisfied” (Mt 14:20, Lk 9:17).
Jesus showed in 6 different writings in the new testament (When God says something 6 times, I think its important to pay attention) that if you give what you have when there is need, He will take your small, goodwill giving and provide the increase necessary to do God’s will. But, in order to provide the increase, there must first be something to increase, and that is our part. Do you think you are better with your money than God is with his? Is the $50 you put into God’s hands today going to do more good than waiting to give $250 next year? Absolutely! God provides 30, 60, 100 fold increases, and more. What kind of return on investment can you get by next year? How much saving will be enough to help those who could be beyond help by next year? I may not have the power to provide the seemingly impossible increase required, but I have the power to give what I can now so that God can provide the increase necessary to do what needs to be done, and then some. This goes beyond just money. Give what you can, in any form, no matter how small it seems, when you see there is need or an opportunity (FYI – when you see a need, it is an opportunity to show God’s power), and let God fan that tiny spark into a raging, consuming fire of God’s glory. You have the power to give. Do it as often as you can. Do not leave God with nothing to increase. 100 fold or even 10,000 fold of zero is still zero, yet 100 fold of 1 is 100. That’s a big difference, and it starts with you, or me, or a giving little boy.Well said Peter, thanks!