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October 12th, 2017

It’s not easy to be generous when your bottom line has hit rock bottom. My first three jobs after graduating from college didn’t include health insurance benefits. So, when my wife Lin had two children delivered by caesarean section in the first three years of our marriage, we were stuck with some big debt. When all the bills were paid, the checkbook balance showed 11 bucks. That had to last us for the next two weeks. The tempting thought was, it’s foolish to keep tithing. What if the car breaks down or the kids get sick? Still the Lord kept after me not to be swayed by the checkbook balance, but to trust Him and continue giving.

"Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back." (Luke 6:38)

The Lord was true to His word. During those lean months, He kept turning 11 dollars into a "loaves and fishes" (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15) experience for us. Lin kept putting food on the table with simple recipes that lasted for days. The kids stayed healthy. Our old cars kept running without major repairs. The Lord proved to us how being generous when it makes no sense can turn into a time of great blessing and joy.

"Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:7)

I bring this up, because our church budget is in a rough spot right now. We are at a time when we need our church family to step up. Some need to learn the principle an older couple once relayed to me. They said they had lived a more blessed life by giving away 10 percent of their income than if they’d kept 100 percent for themselves.

"Why does God test your generosity? Because you were made in his image, so if you’re going to become like Jesus, you need to learn how to be generous. If you don’t, you’ll never grow to maturity, and you will never have the blessing of God on your life." (Pastor Rick Warren, Saddleback Church)

This isn’t just about trying to meet a church budget, or fulfilling an obligation, or even giving a certain percent. It’s about the blessings that come from being generous and how our living God can take what little we might bring Him and multiply it in a number of ways. See if the Lord doesn’t provide you way more in return when you are generous to His people.