Understand God’s Principles
Let me first give you three reasons why Christians don’t give more to God: (1) They don’t think they have enough to give. (2) They don’t know how to give. (3) They don’t budget to give. Stewardship principles, however, make a difference. If people really understood the principles of stewardship, they would see that all these reasons for not giving aren’t reasons at all, but mere excuses.
- The Who’s-in-Charge Principle. God’s the owner; I’m the manager. Ask yourself today, “Who’s going to run my life?” The earth and everything that is in it belongs to the Lord. The world and its people belong to Him (see Ps. 24:1).
- The Give-and-Grow Principle. Practicing stewardship produces spiritual growth and increases our faith. We become spiritually sensitive. We become fruitful for God’s kingdom. We receive a blessing from God. We are a blessing to others. We make a lasting contribution. You see, stewardship training isn’t about raising money or gifts. It’s about raising Christians and developing them the way that they need to be developed.
- The Do-It-Now Principle. Stewardship deals with our present resources.
Procrastination is my greatest sin.
It brings me endless sorrow.
I’m going to stop doing it.
How long are you going to wait before you find out what your spiritual gift is? How long are you going to wait before you use it? How long are you going to bury the resources God has given you? There’s a tendency for us to say, “Well, one of these days I’m going to find out what my spiritual gift is.” But what are we doing right now? God is concerned about our present resources. Imagine appearing before God, who gave you those gifts. He looks at you and wants to know what you did with your gifts. And you don’t even know what they are!
And what are you doing with your present resources now? I know you’re saying, “If I had just won that lottery last week, I would have given all that money to the church.” No, you wouldn’t have. If you don’t tithe now, if you can’t give Him 10 percent now, then you’re not going to give Him 100 percent later.
A very wealthy man was on a prosperity gospel kick. And he went from town to town talking about how he once had only $20 in his pocket, and when the offering plate came by he put all $20 in. He believed it was this gesture that had made him a multimillionaire. People loved this story, and they would clap and cheer him on. Using his personal testimony, he encouraged people to give just as he had given.
Then one time when he was telling the same story in a meeting, he got the same response of clapping and cheering, but then a woman raised her hand and said, “Now let me make sure I understand. You had only $20. You gave all $20 to God, and He made you rich and famous. Is that correct?”
“Yes, that’s exactly the way it happened,” the man responded.
The woman then asked, “Would you do it all over again and give everything you have, now that you have millions and not just $20?”
It is tiresome hearing spiritual cliches about how God will provide. Let me tell you something. God has already provided. The issue is not God’s provision. The issue is for you and me to learn to manage the resources He has already given. We need to be good stewards of what we already have.
- The I'm-in-Debt Principle. From the moment we are born into this world, we are in debt. Our indebtedness is twofold: We are indebted to God for our health, life, everything; and we are indebted to the previous generations. We must never forget those who have gone on before us, who are part of the blessings we have today. Everything we have is a gift from God or a gift from somebody else. And it’s our job to take those gifts and reproduce and multiply and develop them to glorify God and to help our fellow men.
- The Fountain-of-Youth Principle. We live forever through our giving. Jesus said that what we keep we lose, and what we lose we keep. You’ve all heard the expression “You can’t take it with you.” There’s another I like even better: “You never see a hearse with a luggage rack.” Our gifts are worthwhile only if they are used here on earth. We give of ourselves not to make us look good, not only to help us grow in our life but to reach our community. The vision is not for us. The vision is for God’s kingdom. And it looks better every day!
- The Who’s-Number-One Principle. Instead of giving Jesus our best, we sometimes tend to give Him our leftovers. Honor the Lord with your possessions and the first fruits of all your increase (Prov. 3:9). On the first day of the week, let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he or she may prosper (1 Cor. 16:2). God tells us that we are to give Him the first, not the last of everything. Our human nature would rather give God what’s leftover. We often put our possessions and ourselves first. If there’s anything left over we say, “Well, sure, God. I can give You what I have.” Where is God in your life right now? Is He first, second, or twenty-fifth? The Lord said, “Where your treasure is, that’s where your heart is.” He is saying, “I can tell you what you love the most by looking at your checkbook and calendar. I know what your priorities are in life.”
- The Cheerful-Attitude Principle. Stewardship begins with loving, not giving. We can give without loving, but we cannot love without giving. The basis of my stewardship and management of all the resources that God has given me has to be based on the fact that I love Him with all my heart, my soul, and my strength. Carl Meninger, the famous psychiatrist, said that generous people rarely suffer from mental illness. When we begin to live beyond ourselves and give of our time and talent and everything else—when we begin to live beyond our world of self—it changes our mindset. We become healthy people emotionally, psychologically, physically, and spiritually.
- The Big-Shovel Principle. You cannot outgive God because He’s got a bigger shovel than you or I do. Jesus said, “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you in return” (Luke 6:38, NIV). A very generous giver was asked, “How is it that you have given so much and yet God has blessed you financially in every area?” He replied, “It’s very simple. I shovel in, and God shovels back. And God has a bigger shovel than I do.”
- The River Principle. Our life is to be like a river, not a reservoir. We should not hold back what God has given us; instead, we should pass it on to others. We are to let God’s power flow through us in these five areas: (a) Through our life—what we are; (b) Through our lips—what we say; (c) Through our ministry—what we do; (d) Through our money—what we give; (e) Through our prayers—what we claim in Jesus’ name.
- The Who-Has-Whom Principle. Until God is in control of my life, I am out of control. Back to our acrostic of the word “trust”: “S” stands for “Surrender everything to God.”
Surrender Everything to God
“If only I had more, I would give more.” How often have we all said that? Luke has something to say about such statements. “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10, KJV). What did Luke mean? If you are not giving sacrificially with what you have now, you won’t give sacrificially when you have more. Why? It’s not how much we have of the world that dictates our generosity toward God, but how much God has of us.
Whom am I going to trust? Am I going to live like the world does and trust in myself, become independent and do my own thing? Or am I going to truly trust, obey, and depend wholly on God? The issue is not your talent, your time, your abilities, or your money. The issue is very simple: in whom do I trust?