Daily Devotional for Wednesday January 15, 2003
Giving without Guilt
Giving without guilt. There is probably nothing that upsets me more personally than the manipulation and psychological games that too many in the Lord's work use to generate the finances they need to carry on their mission. Overseeing a large international ministry that is growing daily, I fully understand the pressures to raise the needed funds to carry on God's work. However, I submitted this area to God over a decade ago when I started my ministry, and committed to never do anything that would be unbiblical or bring shame to Him. The fact is, my God owns the cattle on a thousand hills and is more than able to move on the hearts of His people to support His work.
My first personal encounter with big time Christian fundraising came 11 years ago. I was backstage with a friend at a telethon being put on by one of the larger Christian television stations. They were only moments from going on the air when all of the sudden a rather large man with an Irish accent came up to me and asked me what 1000 divided by 12 was. It seemed like a very odd question, but I thought for a moment and told him it was 83 and about a third. He thanked me, and just moments later he was on the set with the host of the Telethon on "live" television. After exchanging a few pleasantries, the host asked this man if he had anything special to share with the viewers that evening.
The man with the Irish accent than began to share how he had been in prayer in his hotel room all afternoon, seeking a special word from God for the viewers that night. He stated that after many hours on his knees, God spoke into his Spirit to share Psalms 83 verse 18. I opened my Bible and read the verse and was a little confused what was so special about that verse, but the preacher began to share that through Christian television people all over would know the name of Jesus. I was still a bit confused, until he began to challenge the people that God wanted them to make a pledge of $83.18 over the next 12 months to that Christian television station. It finally sunk in that the only reason he chose that verse was not from some great revelation God had given to him, but it was to try and generate $1,000 pledges from the viewers. I have to be honest when I tell you that it took every ounce of self control that I had, not to run onto the set and call this man a liar. It literally made me ill.
As many may know, the first 7 years I was in the ministry, I preached in over 500 churches of all denominations, all over the country. I also was heavily involved in the Christian television world. I hosted programs, consulted with most every major Christian media ministry, and created programming for all of the Christian television stations in the country. During this time, I have seen every trick, game, gimmick, guilt trip, and psychological ploy used to get people to give. Let me tell you right now that major crusades don't take the offering AFTER an hour of powerful praise and worship by accident. The largest Christian television network CAN NOT get you out of debt by you giving them $2,000. There is NOTHING Biblical about "burning your debt"! NEVER make a pledge with money that you DON'T HAVE! Never, EVER, let any church or ministry intimidate you, or "guilt you" into giving.
So much of the fundraising and financial pleas I see take God's Word totally out of context. Giving to a ministry does NOT guarantee that you will get back that money plus so many times more. God blesses our obedience in MANY ways, not just financially. Our health is a GREAT blessing. The health and safety of our family and friends is a GREAT blessing. Our old car starting and getting us from place to place each day is a GREAT blessing. God moving in a situation at work or school is a GREAT blessing. The point is that God DOES bless us for our obedience and faithfulness, God DOES bless us when we are faithful and obedient in our giving. But His blessings come in many forms, not just financial.
>From day 1 in my ministry, I have done my best to follow the Biblical formula for giving. First, giving is an act of worship. It is a way to honor God for his provision in our life. Second, ALL that we have belongs to Him. When we give, we are simply giving back to God a portion of what He has entrusted to us. Third, the Bible says to "give according to your ability to give". You can't give what you don't have. And yes, we are told to give God a portion of what He gives us right off the top, but God also expects you to take care of your day to day living needs as well. It makes no sense to give God $30 when you have no more money and you have an electric bill for $30. PAY YOUR ELECTRIC BILL. Lastly, God WILL bless you for your obedience in this area. Giving IS important, but giving for the right reasons is just as important.
I love you and care about you so much. I am sure that I probably greatly upset some people in the minsitry today. But God never intended people to give out of guilt, or give because they have been manipulated or tricked. We are to give because of our love for God. We give because God has entrusted each of us with a certain amount of provision during our life, and it is an act of obedience when we give a portion of that to Him. The Bible teaches that we give our tithe to the place where we are fed, which in most cases is our home church. Our gifts are what we give to those additional works of God outside of the church that the Lord uses to feed us spiritually and gives us a burden for.
When God directed Moses to build the Tabernacle, when God directed David to build the Temple, He told them both the same thing. Share the exact need with the people and challenge them to give out of their abundance. THAT my friend is the Biblical example of how to fund God's work. Go to God's people, share the exact need, and challenge them to pray and give as God leads them to give. We are to give out of our love for God, we are to give because all that we have belongs to God, we are to give with a joyful heart.....NOT out of guilt!!!
In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ,