By Luther Blackmon
I read an article somewhere in which a woman was being given advise on the matter of “holding a husband.” The counsellor’s advise was, “If you want to hold a man you must first set him free.” Sounds paradoxical, but good advice I think. I’m not an expert on such matters, but I think she meant that the best way to hold a man is to let him feel that he is not being “held.”
I read another story, and this one was hypothetical. A man fell over a cliff, and a few feet below the edge he caught a bush that grew out of the side of the cliff. He was terrified and began praying. The story has it that the Lord answered him audibly and said, “What is it you want?” “Save my life,” the man pleaded. “Do you believe that I am able to save you?” the Lord asked. “Oh, yes, I believe.” “What would you be willing to do to show that faith?” asked the Lord. “Anything! Anything at all!” the fellow said. “Then turn loose that bush,” came the answer. This sounds paradoxical, also, but there is illustrated in this story a principle of divine truth. This is particularly apropos of the matter of giving.
We Receive by Giving
In my preaching on giving, I have stopped putting the emphasis on “paying the bills” and “meeting the budget.” I do not mean to minimize the importance of money in the Lord’s work. The more money we have to use, the more work that can be done. But our preaching on giving ought to emphasize the need of the giver more than the need of the money. Paul calls giving a grace (2 Cor. 8:6, 7). Grace is something God does for us, not something we do for Him. And giving our means into the Lord’s work is a favor of the Giver. Why else would the Creator of the world, the Giver of life and the Father of our spirits ask us to give? Does anyone think that God needs our money? Don’t we realize the God could have preached the gospel to the whole world, relieved all the needy and edified all the saints to perfection, without a penny of our money or an effort of any kind on our part if He had chosen to do it that way? What’s the matter with us? When you hear some poor miserable imitation of a Christian complaining about how the church is always needing money, and how the “Bible says charity begins at home,” just tell him to stick his money back into his pocket and save it to buy himself an air-conditioner to take with him when he dies. Because what little he gives would not help the work much and it won’t do him any good at all unless he changes his attitude.
Paul not only says that giving is a “grace,” but that “God is able to make all grace abound towards you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may bound unto every good work . . . . now he that ministereth seed for the sower both minister bread for your food and multiply your seed sown and Increase the fruits of your righteousness” (2 Cor. 9:8, 10).
This simply says that if you will use what God has given you that He will give to you again so that you may abound in His work. This does not mean that God will give you back more dollars and cents than you gave, necessarily. And if you increase your giving because you think you will get back more money than you gave, you have missed the point. Forget it, and start over. However, I doubt that I need say this. But if we “give ourselves to the Lord” as did the Macedonians (2 Cor. 8:5), and consider always that what we have is His rightfully; if we obey the divine injunction to give “cheerfully” and as we “are prospered,” because we want to give it and without considering what we are going to get in exchange, we shall receive abundantly. I believe the passage teaches that this blessing will include material prosperity. But not many of us are willing to trust the Lord to do what He would have us do. We are not willing to “let go” that we might “hold on.”
Truth Magazine XXI: 36, p. 562
September 15, 1977