Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Don't Spend Your Life, Invest It

Leslie Basham: As you think about your schedule today, consider this from Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We’re responsible to invest our time, not to spend it, not to fritter it away. God has given to us a limited, finite, certain number of minutes and hours and days. We’re to be investing them so we’ll have something to give back to the Lord that is more than what He entrusted to us in the first place.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, June 16.

Imagine that your TV and your computer had a credit card reader and you had to pay to turn it on. Would you do it less often?

Do you realize that you are paying every time you turn it on? Paying with your time. Nancy will explain how, continuing in a series called Instruction of a Father.

Nancy: I’ve been trying to share with you counsel and instruction that I received from my father and my mother as well as during the first 21 years of my life before my dad went to be with the Lord. It’s been such a joy for me to reflect on these teachings because now I’ve been without my dad for more years than I actually had him.

I’m just thinking about how many of these foundational, fundamental principles that he demonstrated and taught us as we were growing up—what an impact they’ve had on my life and how many blessings I am reaping today because of heeding the instruction of my father. I wish I had heeded more. I wish I could have more. By God’s grace, I did listen to most of my dad’s counsel, if not sooner, then later. Now I’m having a ball.

I said to someone whose birthday—they’re turning 40 today—I said, “You’re going to love your 40s.” Now it’s not that there aren’t hard things and things you wish were a little different, but there’s such joy that I’m reaping in my life as a result of years of planting seeds, of listening to instruction, taking counsel, choosing to obey the Lord, letting His grace work in my life. Now I’m seeing the fruit, and I anticipate more fruit for the rest of my life by God’s grace.

One thing that my dad—again, it was woven through his whole life and teaching in our family, and I want to bring it up today. I would say it this way: Don’t spend your life. Invest it.  Of course, invest it for the glory of God, not for your own selfish purposes or interests.

My dad had a strong conviction which comes right from the Word of God that we don’t own anything, that God owns everything, and that we are merely stewards of that which God owns which He has entrusted to us for a little bit of time here on this earth. One day we will stand before the Lord and will give account to Him for what we did with everything that He entrusted to us. Our time. Our hours. What we did with those hours.

My dad felt it was a very serious thing to waste time. Now, he could have fun. He had recreation. He had hobbies, but they were purposeful. They were intentional. One of the reasons in our family we didn’t subscribe to a newspaper, we didn’t have a television as I was growing up . . . You say, “What were you? Amish?” No. My dad was a businessman, and we had a lot of modern conveniences. But those were some modern conveniences he felt caused many people to waste a lot of time, and he didn’t want to encourage that.

Had he been around in the days of computers and Internet, I don’t know what he would have done because that has become such a huge time waster for so many people. He believed that we’re responsible to invest our time, not to spend it, not to fritter it away. God has given to us a limited, finite, certain number of minutes and hours and days. We’re to be investing them so we’ll have something to give back to the Lord that is more than what He entrusted to us in the first place.

God has a purpose for our lives, for our talents, for the way He wired us, the way He made us. We’re responsible to find that purpose in life and fulfill it, not just to wander aimlessly through life, but to say, “God has given me this life, this personality, these gifts, these abilities, this time, these opportunities. How can I invest them for the glory of God?”

Again, let me just say some counsel if I could to those of you who are younger women. This is important for you to grasp now. Not until perhaps you’re my age or older will you realize why it was so important. We tend to think that when you’re younger you can do your thing, you can have your fun, sow your oats, do whatever—and maybe not just bad things—but you can just spend your life while you’re a teenager, while you’re in your early 20s until you have family responsibilities.

No, no, no, no! For one thing, you don’t know that you’re going to live to be my age. When you stand before the Lord, if it’s a week from now or a month from now or a year from now or 50 years from now, you will give account for what you did with what God gave you. So invest your life. Find God’s purpose for you in your life and fulfill it.

Now one of the most important things that my dad talked about our investing was financial resources. Giving. Giving to the Lord. One of the things I’ve discovered as I’ve done a little research on this subject is that the younger generation today has not been taught about the importance of giving.

Well, I hope to change that on Revive Our Hearts. We’ve addressed it before. We’ll address it again because giving financially and materially out of the resources God has entrusted to us is such a picture of where our hearts are. It also helps our hearts be in the right place.

If you want to guard your heart, if you want to keep your heart on eternity, then you need to learn to give, to give generously, to give regularly, to give sacrificially, to give wholeheartedly, to give enthusiastically. Be a giver.

Don’t just spend your money. Invest it. Invest it in eternity. Invest it in the kingdom of God. Invest it in things that matter. Jesus said, and it really is true, that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

My dad had a goal in life to give as much money to the Lord’s work, to the kingdom of God as he possibly could in his lifetime. He wanted to give, and he did give. He also believed that you cannot outgive God. You can’t. Boy, have I discovered that to be true in my own life. I am so thankful for my dad’s teaching in this area. This is one of those areas where I have really sought, as he desired we would, to stand on his shoulders so to speak. It is so blessed to give, and God does bless us as we do.

Let me just say, parents, what you model to your children on this count is so important. We had a map of the world on the wall in our breakfast room in the home where I grew up that had a bulletin board around the outer edges. There around the edges were pictures of missionaries that our family supported financially and in prayers. They had little pieces of yarn that went from the picture to the place on the map where those people served so we could see where those people were. We would pray for those people. We would give. We knew that giving was important to our parents and to our family.

This is something I took with me into life. When I went to college, in my last two years of school, as I recall, my monthly allowance was $50 a month. I was trying to recall this morning, I think that included paying for gas and I commuted to school. So out of that I think came my gas money. I remember it was $50 a month.

I remember wanting to be so careful. In fact, I discovered recently a piece of paper on which I had journaled—I mean every dime—what I was spending it on, what I was doing with it because I wanted to give at the beginning of the time when I would get that, but then at the end of the month, I wanted to see how much I could have left to give. I just wanted to clean out my wallet, my billfold. Then I didn’t have savings accounts and a house and all those things that we accumulate as we get older, but I just had a heart, as my parents did, to give.

Well, then I got my first paying job right out of college. I can remember my salary was $7,800 a year, and I thought that was huge. It was huge to me. It still would be huge to a lot of people. What a joy it was as the Lord began to entrust me with more to take care of for Him to expand my giving. Now I had more bills when I had that $7,800 a year. There were more responsibilities, but I began to try and stretch my giving. Could I give more? Could I live on less?

Now you have to follow God’s leading in this, but I learned and I’m still learning, that you can’t outgive God. I’m here to tell you that not once during all these years have I ever gone without something that I needed. Never. Now, I’ve gone without a few things that I wanted. But I’ve never been without something that I needed because God has promised when we give His way that He will meet our needs, Philippians chapter 4 (v. 19).

Here’s the fun part: God has said in 2 Corinthians 9:10 that as you give, He will multiply your seed, and He will multiply your harvest. Now I’ve claimed that over the years and I’ve said, “Lord, I want to give as much as You’ll let me give, and I’m claiming that as I give, You will give me more to give, and You will multiply the harvest of righteousness that results from that giving.”

Today God has given me the privilege now of giving many times more than I ever dreamed would be possible. There’s been incredible blessing in that.

I’ve been in the process of buying a place to live, and I’m furnishing it right now. It’s a must—I need to do it—but it’s something of a distraction and one of the things that has concerned me is just spending all this time spending money for me. Now, I want it to be for the glory of God. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a home. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with furnishing a home, but it’s a fine line that we slip into of just wanting things for us.

That’s why I try to be careful about not leafing through catalogs more than necessary. It’s why I pretty much stay out of malls as much as possible. Not because I don’t like it, but because I do like it. Man, I’m really happy with all the things I have until I see all the things I don’t have and all the things somebody else thinks I need. The styles I had were fine until I saw the new styles.

It’s so easy for things to grip our hearts and to start to let those things control our hearts. The way I fight against that and the way God’s Word challenges us to deal with that is through a lifestyle of giving. Giving regularly, giving cheerfully, giving sacrificially. What do most of us know about that? Not a lot. Because even after we’ve given a lot, we still have a lot left over, most of us.

As I study the Scripture, I see this theme all the way through. Let me read to you, for example, from Proverbs chapter 3, verses 9 and 10. “Honor the LORD with your wealth.” Honor Him. Please Him with it. Bring glory to Him with what you do with your wealth. “And with the firstfruits of all your produce.”

The habit in the Old Testament, the command, the practice of the Old Testament Jews was to give to God the firstfruits of the harvest before they knew how big their harvest would be. That was a matter of faith. You give God the first part. My dad used to challenge us. Give God the first part of your day. Give God the first part of your income. Give God first His part.

Now the Jews gave not only a tithe, which is what we hear about (10%), but as you go back and study the Old Testament, you see that there are actually a number of different offerings and tithes that the Jews were required to give. It totaled about 23½%, if I understand it correctly, of the Jewish income was to be given to the Lord’s work.

Today we have this great big debate over is tithing New Testament? Is tithing required under grace? You know, I have an opinion about that, but I’m not going to tell you my opinion. What I will tell you is that if you live under the New Covenant of God’s grace, to me it’s unthinkable that we would be giving God any less than a tenth of everything we have.

What does Proverbs go on to say? “Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine” (3:9-10).

Now that doesn’t necessarily mean, if you put it with all the other Scriptures on giving in the Christian life, that you will be a millionaire if you give a lot of money to the Lord’s work. What it does mean is that your needs will be met, you will be blessed, and God will multiply His blessings in your life in ways that you cannot fathom. He may do that materially, and I think in many cases He does. He may do it in other ways. You will be spiritually rich for sure if you are investing your financial resources in the kingdom of Christ.

Proverbs 22:9 says it this way: “He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor” (NKJV).

Proverbs 28:27: “He who gives to the poor will not lack, but he who hides his eyes [he who just overlooks, neglects, doesn’t notice the people around him who have needs], will have many curses” (NKJV).

Then I love this passage in Proverbs chapter 11, verse 24. “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.” You see God’s economy is just the opposite of ours.

I’ve honestly had an accountant say to me as they looked over my year’s income tax reporting, “We cannot figure out how you were able to give what you did and have what you have.” I can’t figure it out either. I’m not good at math. That’s what accountants are supposed to do.

But you know, God’s math just works differently than ours. Over and over again, as I’m willing to give freely, I see God pour back into my life in ways that are far more significant than monetary in terms of God’s blessing in relationships, in ministry, in peace in my heart, in so many ways.

Yet I see other times when I’ve been tempted to withhold, to hold back. In recent years, as the economy has taken some real hits, this has been like a visceral reaction among many believers. Giving is down to many ministries today. It’s not because we don’t have the money. It’s because we’re scared and we’re holding onto it.

We’re thinking of retirement more than we’re thinking about the kingdom of Christ and eternity. I’ve faced this temptation at times myself in the last couple of years where I wanted to pull back just a little bit to be more secure. Listen, anytime you’re pulling back on God, you’re insecure.

If you’re looking to your stocks, your bank account, your retirement fund, your salary, your husband’s salary to meet your needs in your old age, you’re foolish. You’re insecure. You have no guarantee you’ll have any of those things. But if you’re banking on God and giving according to the direction of His Holy Spirit, with the right motives, giving biblically, you will find that your needs will be met. It’s the way it works. You reap what you sow.

Some of you are afraid about old age and how you’ll be provided for. I know single women or widows can often have these fears. Let me tell you if you’re investing now in widows, as Scripture says that you should, if you’re meeting the needs of the elderly now with the income God’s given you, your parents and others, God will make sure that when you are in that position, your needs will be met.

You say, “That takes faith!” You’re right it does. If God dies, what I’m talking about will not work, or if God falls off His throne. But He’s not going to die.

I’m going to tell you this, and maybe you’ve heard me say it before. God is so able to provide that if He needs to and wants to and chooses to (God doesn’t need to do anything), but if God chooses to and it comes down to it and you’re Elijah there by the brook and the brook dries up and there is nothing left to eat and there’s a famine and a drought in the land, and God sent ravens, birds to bring food to Elijah . . . You say, “That was Old Testament.” Well, God hasn’t changed. If that’s what it takes for God to supply for you in time of drought, God can do that. I want to tell you this, I have no doubt that if that’s what it takes, that’s what God will do.

You see, I think we limit God by our figuring out this is how it has to work. I have to be able to figure out how everything will happen if I give this much. We’re not walking by faith, so we never see what God could do if we’d give Him the chance.

My dad would just remind us that your job is not your provider. Your mate someday will not be your ultimate provider. God is your provider. Look to Him and if you believe that God really owns it all, then with what God entrusts to you, let it go. Give generously, happily, wholeheartedly. Give hilariously as 2 Corinthians says.

You know how come I know a little bit about that kind of giving? Because I had a dad who lived that way, a dad who gave that way. He used to say, “Do your giving while you’re living so you’re knowing where it’s going.” (Laughter) He didn’t want to hang onto it. He wanted to get rid of it. He wished he could have done it in his lifetime. He didn’t know he would die so young, but that was his goal, to give and to give and to give.

As you do, that doesn’t mean you won’t have times of loss, times of hardship. Job did. He lost everything at one point. But I’ll tell you this: If you have the Lord, and you’re staking your life on Him, then you have all that you need. And in Him, through Him, by Him, you will have all that you need materially.

I want to challenge you wherever you are in this matter of giving to ask God to let you go a level deeper, a level deeper in faith, a level deeper in surrender. I want to say I believe there are aspects of your Christian life that will blossom and open up and bloom as you begin to go deeper and further in this whole area of giving.

Paul says to the Philippians, “I’m grateful that you sent a gift to the support of our ministry. Not so much because we need the gift, but because you needed to give and because I’m thrilled,” Paul says, “for the spiritual benefits that will accrue to your account because you have obeyed God in this matter of giving” (4:14-17, paraphrased).

So give first to your local church and then as God prompts and blesses you. Deuteronomy 16:17 says, “Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD.” Are you giving that much? Does your giving reflect how much God has blessed you? As God has blessed you, then give to the needs of the poor and orphans and widows. Give to the work of the Lord and the kingdom of Christ, to ministries that God has used to touch and bless and teach you. Give.

In Malachi 3:9—I read it this morning—God says, “The whole nation of you are robbing Me.” Don’t do it. If you’re going to steal, don’t steal from God. God says, “Try Me. Test Me. Give and see if I won’t multiply My blessing back to you in ways that are greater than you can count and measure” (Malachi 3:10, paraphrased).

Lord, I’m sitting here thinking about how great a gift You have given to us in the Lord Jesus who though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor that we through His poverty might be made rich. Lord, I just want to thank You for Your generous, giving heart that You did not even spare Your own Son, but You gave Him freely for us all.

Lord, I want to live a lifestyle of giving that is a reflection of Your giving heart. I want to give and give and give and give. No matter how much I could ever give, I could never repay You for what You’ve done for me. I couldn’t come close to giving in the way that You’ve given to me.

So Lord, make us givers that we may reflect Your heart and Your glory, Your giving heart to this world that is so selfish and holds on so tightly. Help us to show a different way, a better way, Your way, the way of giving. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss on the joy that comes from giving. I hope today’s program has inspired you to think your giving. Are you investing in things that truly matter? Are you supporting your local church. Once you are faithfully supporting your local congregation, would you pray about investing in the ministry of Revive Our Hearts? Your gift can help us reach women like the one who wrote and said, “You have made a huge impact in our lives. We credit your ministry for helping to save our marriage. Thank you.” Wow.

Nancy, I’m so encouraged to hear stories like that.

Nancy: Amen! What a joy it is to see the way God is transforming people's lives and marriage by the power of His truth. I’m so grateful for the way the Lord chooses to use the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. And I’m also really thankful for all who give to make this ministry possible.

When you contribute to Revive Our Hearts this week, we’d like to thank you by sending you a really special book by my brother, Mark DeMoss. It’s called The Little Red Book of Wisdom.

This book is a perfect companion to this week’s series, Instruction of a Father. The principles I learned from my dad affected Mark as well. Mark incorporates many of those insights into this book. You’ll learn to set and live by priorities, to honor God with your time and finances, live by integrity, and so much more.

This book would make a great gift for your father, husband, brother, son, or son-in-law. And I think you’ll get a lot out of it as well.

We’ll send The Little Red Book of Wisdom as our way of saying thanks when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size. 

Leslie: Just ask for The Little Red Book of Wisdom when you call with your gift of any size. The number is 1-800-569-5959, or support the ministry at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Every time a birthday rolls around, we're reminded life is short. Are you making today count? Gain some important perspective on numbering your days.  That’s tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

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