My first lessons in giving came from my family. My mother gave me offering envelopes from our church. She taught me to give a piece of my allowance to the church. When I was older and got my first job, my parents taught me about the biblical practice of tithing—giving ten percent of what you own. Those lessons were good, and they taught me the importance of generosity, but I don’t think I fully appreciated the power of giving.
When Joy and I were first married, my annual salary was $18,000. For those of you younger than me: Yes, that was a small amount of money at that time, too. We had so little money, that I was initially worried about giving ten percent—and I was a pastor! But, thanks to the faith of my wife, we gave ten percent.
Over the years I have heard the saying, “You can’t outgive God.” And when we were stretching every dollar, I saw that phrase come to life. When I thought we didn’t have enough money for food, someone would show up with a gift from their garden. When we didn’t have enough money for our taxes, a surprise visitor came with an envelope with cash (yes, that’s true). Over and over, we continued to give, and the Lord continued to provide.
Later, I was a full-time graduate student. We had even less money this time than we did when I was a pastor. Yet, we gave, as the Lord told us to do. A friend in a Sunday School class chose to gift us some funds. Family members pitched in to help us. Neighbors brought things that we needed but hadn’t told anyone about. The Lord kept providing, because you can’t outgive God.
Since then, I’ve had more “regular” jobs with more “regular” salaries. And, over and over, we’ve given. And, over and over, I’ve seen the Lord provide. Gifts and surprises and providences and the like have made their way into our lives when things seemed very thin, proving to us—yet again—that you can’t outgive God.
Now? We’re in a time of life where we have enough to live and have a little left over. We’re still giving ten percent, but we’ve moved into a phase of life where we now look for ways to give beyond that. We believe that we are now the Lord’s tools to help Him be generous to those who He chooses to put in our lives.
Are you thinking of giving but have yet to take the plunge? Are you worried what it will look like if you decide to commit to tithing? I can certainly understand those worries. I’ve lived many of them myself. But I’ve learned something along the way, too.
You can’t outgive God.
Dr. Steve Bezner
e. [email protected]