Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Giving Back to a Generous God

Leslie Basham: Is it okay to say no to giving opportunities so we can say yes to day-to-day items? Here’s Randy Alcorn.

Randy Alcorn: We do have legitimate needs, and God does care about our needs, and God will provide for our needs. God will also take upon Himself the responsibility to provide for us when we stretch ourselves.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, May 27.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You can’t take it with you, but you can send it on ahead. Well, that’s what Randy Alcorn calls the treasure principle. He’s written a wonderful little book by that title, and the subtitle is Discovering the Secret of Joyful Giving.

Randy has been with us on the program all week. And Randy, thanks for joining us again today on Revive Our Hearts.

Randy: You’re welcome, Nancy.

Nancy: Again, I just want to thank you as an author and speaker and former pastor, you’ve been responsible for shepherding people’s lives. Thank you for addressing this subject. We need to hear a lot more about giving.

I find that I need regular reminders of God’s heart as it relates to giving because I’m so prone to lose my focus on eternity and to begin to become consumed with things of time and space and forgetting that this world is not my home.

As the old song said, “I’m just a passin’ through.” You’ve reminded us of that so powerfully in this little book that I hope every one of our listeners will order, and I don’t say that very often about a book.

But this book, as I said earlier this week, is worth more than its weight in gold. You’ll want to get a copy for yourself. You’ll want to get some other copies, perhaps to share with others. It’s called The Treasure Principle. The author is Randy Alcorn.

Randy, earlier this week we talked about a number of biblical principles as it relates to giving and how it’s an antidote to materialism. We talked about: 

  • Our heart always goes to where our treasure is.
  • The importance of laying up treasures in heaven rather than here on earth.
  • The joy of giving God’s way. We’re never more like God than when we are giving.

But today I want to help some of our listeners in even a more practical way by asking you some of the questions that I think they may be asking as they’ve been listening to the program this week.

As we talk about giving—keeping in mind that our program is targeted towards the spiritual need in lives of women in particular—I can hear some woman saying, “I really have a heart to give. I’d love to be able to give more. But I’ve got a husband who is either not a believer or he is a Christian but he’s real careful with how he spends his money and he really watches after it. And he’s not as excited about us giving to the extent that I would like to.

How would you help a woman in that situation? Her heart is to give. She says, “I don’t know that I have the freedom to give, based on my particular marriage situation.”

Randy: That’s a great question. My mother was a believer who came to Christ a year after I did when I was in high school. My father was an unbeliever until just a few years before he died. So my mom and I would talk about this very thing. She wanted to give, but she didn’t have a separate income. My dad was a very anti-Christian and anti-church and thought Christians were hypocrites and that sort of thing.

He didn’t want any money to go to the church. Well, she had to get really creative. One of the things that I would say to women whose husbands are Christians—it’s a bit different. I think they need to lovingly confront in a careful, thoughtful, submissive way. They need to realize that God has put them in their husband’s life for a purpose and they need to not only help him feel good, they need to help him be good.

That’s part of our ministry. I think a woman needs to be able to ask a husband, “What are your convictions about giving? What do you think the Bible says about giving? Obviously, we’re Christians. We want to follow Christ. What do you think? What is your understanding of what Scripture says? Help me to understand better.”

I think that appropriately puts leadership into his lap to be able to say, “Well, now if I am a Christian, I need to take seriously what God’s Word says. So let me take a look at this.”

I think it’s very appropriate for her to provide some material for him, to give him a copy of The Treasure Principle or anything else on this subject of giving and just say, “Could you read this?” Or maybe, “Could we read this together?” Just to say, “Let’s talk about this area, because it seems to me that it’s an important area.”

Then that doesn’t immediately force the issue. It’s not, "I need a decision tomorrow on 'Are we going to change our giving?'" But, “Would you lead me?” and “Can we discuss this thing?” Whether it’s over a period of months or whatever it might be. And it's, “Can we pray about this?”

Now, in the case of the woman who is married to a non-believer, obviously it’s a little bit different because she’s probably not going to ask him to be consistent with his convictions because he probably doesn’t have those convictions.

But I think there is one thing that can be done in terms of a woman coming to her husband and saying, “Here’s how much money we spend on food each month." In most households the woman is buying the groceries and that sort of thing and probably taking care of a lot of other things as well.

She maybe has a budget, whether it’s an official budget or not, she spends a certain amount of money on clothes or occasionally eating out with friends or whatever it might be.

If she can come to her husband and say,

Here’s how much money per month we’re spending on food and my clothes and maybe a special interest class that I’m taking or whatever it might be. I would like to propose cutting out this much money from what we’re already spending and taking that, and I would like to be able to give that to my church.

It’s something that I would feel good about, and I’m going to do everything I can. I’m going to make a commitment to not make this above and beyond so you will not feel the difference with this. As a matter of fact, the only way in which you may feel the difference is through God’s blessing.

Because I believe God will honor and bless this in maybe some tangible material ways, but certainly in other ways. That’s part of my conviction as a Christian. So I’m asking you to work with me on this, and let’s give God a chance to bless this action. Is that okay with you?

Now, most husbands would be, "Oh, you’re actually saying that I won’t feel this? Well, go ahead.”

Now, I understand that there are some cases in which somebody who has some very—somebody like my dad might have said at that point, “No. I don’t feel good about that.”

I think—certainly in light of 1 Peter 3 and other passages—you need to be very careful, submissive to your husband. But at the same time, 1 Peter 3 says, “They may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives when they see the purity and reverence in their lives” (verse 1).

I think conviction and desire to carry out conviction is one of the ways that husbands can be won over. So I don’t think women need to feel like, “Okay. I can broach the subject once. If he responds negatively, that’s it forever. To be a submissive wife, I need to not give.” I don’t think that’s the solution.

Nancy: What an opportunity for a woman to make this a matter of prayer and to seek the Lord, because giving requires faith. If your husband doesn’t want to give, then your faith is in God, who says that the king’s heart is in His hand. God is able to turn the heart of that husband as the woman places her case before the Lord and says, “Lord, You know my heart.”

Randy: Right.

Nancy: In fact, 2 Corinthians 8 tells us that what matters is that we have a willing mind, and then God accepts that which we are able to give.

Randy: That’s right. If the worst case scenario is still not getting your husband’s encouragement or even permission to give, at least you are able to say, “Okay, Lord. You know my heart in this. You know my desire. I can give and will give of my time and give of my abilities. I will go out of my way to do that all the more in light of the fact that I’m not in a position, because of what you say in my relationship with my husband, to be able to give at the levels I’d like to give now.”

Nancy: So she can still be a generous, giving-hearted woman.

Randy: That’s right.

Nancy: Let me just add here, I think we need to encourage women who have a heart to give and often women are the ones who are listening to Christian radio programs, hearing, being exposed to ministries that have financial needs, and may often want to be the ones first to give.

But I think we also need to encourage those wives to go to their husbands, particularly believing husbands, and to talk about it together. What a way for a couple to grow spiritually together in the grace of giving, and not for one of the other to act independently to the other.

In fact, you were sharing with me yesterday how you and your wife have really grown together in this grace of giving.

Randy: That’s right. My wife, Nancy, we will sit down and talk about an opportunity to give. For instance, periodically, we have special missions offerings and famine relief offerings at our church. We have a regular amount that’s a little bit above a tithe that we always give, no matter what, to the church. But then we have other ministries that we support in these special offerings at our church.

We will talk about, pray about, and then we’ll sit down together. Sometimes we’ll write down a specific figure, or we’ll just think of the figure. And we’ll go, “Okay. I’m thinking this." And you’re thinking whatever you’re thinking. Okay. "Now, let’s make our decision how we feel that God is leading us here, and now let’s compare the figures with each other.”

My wife is very generous and is a very servant-hearted person. But sometimes she would get a little bit discouraged because perhaps I have the gift of giving and maybe it’s easier for me in certain respects just as other more Christ-like attributes are easier for her than they are for me.

Maybe in this area it’s a little easier for me sometimes. So it would be a little discouraging to her because my figure would tend to be the higher figure. But I remember one time sitting down, maybe it was a year ago, where she came up with a higher figure than I did. And she was just thrilled, and so was I. I just thought this was so great, because she’s been stretched a lot. I think her reward will be greater as a result of that

Again, very generous, but also feeling more like, "Hey, it’s just normal in this society. We give the minimum of the ten percent. We give considerably beyond that. Do we need to keep increasing our level of giving?"

But this has been so great for us to communicate about. There have been times where there’s been some kind of rough edges we’ve had to work out together, but it’s been very growing and building. I would really encourage women, don’t back away from this.

Of course, don’t hound your husband or nag your husband in this area. But nonetheless, don’t back away from it. If you have a husband who God has given a gift or an orientation for giving, do all that you can to encourage that. That spiritual dynamic will carry over to every other aspect of his life, and you will be getting a more godly, better husband.

Don’t hold him back in the giving. Encourage him in the giving, even though that’s going to require some faith and stretching on your part.

Nancy: Randy, I think for some women in particular this whole area of giving brings up some fear. I think particularly of widows or those who are living on a limited social security or retirement income or single women who may feel, “I don’t have someone providing for me. If I’m really giving generously, how do I know that down the road long-term, when I’m old and can’t provide for myself—how do I know that my needs are going to be meet?

Randy: Well, that is a challenge. Scripture gives many examples of women who are givers and one of the most well-known and most powerful is the poor widow.

There it is in Mark 12,

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were being put and watched the crowds putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to Him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all of the others. They all gave out of their own wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on (verses 41-44, NIV).

He set up this woman as an example. I think it should be a reminder to all of us that, yes, we do have legitimate needs and God does care about our needs and God will provide for our needs. But that God will also take Himself the responsibility to provide for us when we stretch ourselves and in faith step out as this poor widow did.

And let’s face it, what we would consider to be stretching ourselves in faith would probably not go nearly as far as being a poor widow who gives away literally everything she has to live on.

And if Jesus commends this, surely He will commend your generous giving and will be there to provide for you.

Nancy: My dad used to say that our giving is really a reflection of how big we believe that God is.

Randy: That’s so true.

Nancy: It troubled him that most people give what they think they can afford to give, based on what they perceive that they have. To him that was walking by sight and not by faith. And he said, “Our giving should be a reflection of how big and how great we believe God to be.”

And for him, by the way, that meant that in times of loss financially—my dad was a businessman. He had times where his company was doing quite well and was making money. But he had other times when there were reverses and/or the economy was a factor or whatever, and the company was not doing as well—in those times he felt that’s time to stretch your faith and to trust God to help you find out how to give more.

My mother remembers, telling about one of those particular times when he came home and said, “We’ve already cut the budget. We’ve tightened the belts. But I think God wants us to give more.”

She’s a very practical woman, and she loved him and she loved giving. She was great at following his leadership in this area. But she confesses now to feeling a little concerned about—it didn’t seem to make human sense. And you know, giving God’s way really doesn’t make human sense. It makes sense in God’s economy.

To be giving in a time of economic slow-down or recession or at a season of life when you don’t have as much, there are those that would tell you today, “That’s acting irresponsibly.” And you’re saying it’s really acting responsibly if your life is lived in the sphere of the kingdom of God and eternal realities.

Randy: That’s right. Malachi 3 says, “'Test me in this,' says the Lord,” and it speaking not only in tithing but in the free will offerings, “and see if I will not open the heavens and pour out great blessing on you” (verse 10).

It’s not always in an exact material form that we can see clearly, but it’s that sometimes he has the dishwasher and the washer and the dryer that are twenty years old keep operating and a car that has two hundred thousand miles plus on it keep going. We have seen God just extend the life of things around us when we have chosen to give.

And He blesses in such great and encouraging ways. We need to just give Him the opportunity. It’s not often God says, “Test me in something.” And when He does, we should take it seriously and joyfully and go for it.

Nancy: I think that most of us never find out what it is that God could do if we’d give him the chance.

Randy: Amen.

Nancy: If we’d test Him in every area of our life, if we’d really walk by faith and say, “I’m not going to rely on my own natural, human reasoning. But beyond that, beyond just wisdom and clear-headed thinking, I’m willing to step out onto a limb to trust God, to step out where my dad would challenge us."

He’d say, “If you’re going to live by faith, you need to step out on a limb so far that if God doesn’t come through, you’re not going to make it.” That’s when you begin to enter into the realm of omnipotence and the power of God and to see God act on your behalf.

Randy: Amen.

Nancy: Randy, I believe that many of our listeners really want to do what the Scripture says, and that is to excel in this grace of giving. So I’d wonder if you’d just take a moment to pray for us and ask that God would make these biblical principles of giving a reality in our lives.

Randy: Father, You are a great and awesome God, and that is so true that our giving is a reflection of how big we believe You to be. When we give and we see your faithful response, then we’ll see your bigness in greater ways.

I want to thank you, Lord, for all the women who are listening today. Thank you for their servants’ hearts as they minister to their children, to their friends, to their family members. And we pray, Lord, that one day we would stand before you and by your grace, hear those words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Thank you for the example of the poor widow who entrusted herself to you, not knowing that she was going to be used as an example for the next few thousand years, just doing faithfully, quietly what You observed. You observe the faithful, quiet acts that people do for You.

And we pray, Lord, that we would do that in a spirit and a heart of giving, giving of money, giving of time, giving of the talents that You’ve entrusted to us. And Lord, we thank you and praise You that You are the greatest giver of all. In Jesus’ name.

Nancy: O Father, when we think about giving, we have to think about You, because You are the ultimate giver. We’re never more like you than when we’re giving. Thank you for being such a joyful, generous, open-hearted giver, for loving the world so much that You gave the best that You had. You gave Your Son for us.

Thank You for the Lord Jesus, who is Your indescribable gift to us. And Lord, our desire is that our lives would match Your giving, that we would reflect Your heart in our giving and that we would discover that treasure principle, that everything that we have should not be held on to, because it belongs to You and sooner of later we’re going to part from it.

I pray that You’d show us how, through the grace of giving, to send on treasure ahead of us that we will be rich in eternity and will have to offer You that which is worthy of You. I pray for Jesus’ sake, amen.

Leslie: Randy Alcorn and Nancy Leigh DeMoss have been providing something each of us needs: trustworthy financial advice. He spoke with Nancy Leigh DeMoss several years ago about what it really means to store treasure in heaven.

And Nancy, those words resonate today more than ever.

Nancy: That’s true. As we listen to the news and read the accounts of what’s going on, we’re reminded every day that nothing is stable except God Himself.

We’ve watched as supposedly unshakeable institutions have failed or received bailouts. It’s a reminder that ultimately we can’t trust the economists, experts, or even ourselves for the future. We can only trust the Lord.

The only investments that are really safe are those that are eternal. I want you to know that we’re praying that God will show His incredible power and grace in the lives of our listeners who are struggling financially.

We’re also praying that as millions face pay cuts, job losses, and falling net worth, God will revive His people and show them the joy of living for eternity.

Then we’re praying that God will meet our needs as a ministry during this season. We can’t function without the prayers and the financial support of our listeners. And during this recession, as we’ve been sharing with you in recent weeks, donations have fallen substantially.

For the past six months we’ve operated under a reduced budget. We’re about to move into the summer months when donations are traditionally down, even in a stable economy. That makes this week crucial. Our fiscal year ends on May 31, and we’re asking the Lord to help us end this month with over $300,000 in donations.

This will help us through the lean summer months and will allow us to make up our current budget deficit, ending the fiscal year in the black. And it will help us through the lean summer months.

If we don’t make up the shortfall, we’ll be looking at some tough choices to cut back on ministry outreaches.

We’re evaluating each radio market to see if the response in that area is sufficient to keep this program on the air. So if this ministry has been a blessing to you, and if you want to see women called to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ, would you ask the Lord what He would have you to give to help us in this last crucial week of May?

When you make a donation of any amount, we’ll say thanks by sending you The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn. This is a great book. It’s easily readable. It’s something you’ll want to highlight and ponder and share with others as well. It will show you how to invest your life in something far greater than temporary wealth.

And if you’ve never given before to Revive Our Hearts, along with the book, you also have an extra incentive to give. Each gift from new donors this month is being doubled by some friends of the ministry up to $40,000.

So if you’ve never contacted us before, you can double your gift and receive The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn. If you’ve stood with us before, we need to hear from you as well, and we’ll be glad to send you your copy of The Treasure Principle.

Leslie: Call us at 1-800-569-5959, or you can donate on line at ReviveOurHearts.com.

You have a rare chance to interact with Randy Alcorn today at our website. He’s part of a blog at ReviveOurHearts.com, answering questions from our listeners. Join him at the blog at the bottom of this page.

The concept of inheritance is being rethought by a lot of people in light of falling investments. But no matter what the stock market is doing, you can leave a valuable inheritance to those who come behind you.

Nancy will explain how tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

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

 

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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