Of all the mysteries I would like solved before I die, it is the one that says you must struggle if you are going to grow. Growth always means struggle in one form or another. I struggled when I was a youth, trying to grow physically. We all struggled as children attempting to grow emotionally, psychologically and intellectually. We struggle when we grow.
In Genesis 32 we find a man named Jacob who faced a lot of struggles as he grew to be the man God wanted him to be. Jacob left town in great disgrace — I’m certain it had to be that he slinked out of town at night. It is also certain that aside from his mother, no one knew where he was headed. Jacob’s brother Esau was so mad at him that Jacob had to leave town in a hurry — just to survive.
Jacob struggled all through his life. God wanted him to be God’s man; Jacob fought it with that old nature that says, “Forget what God wants…be your own man! Do what you want to do; Hey, it’s your life isn’t it?” Each of us faces that tension today. There are struggles with relationships, morality, the physical realm.
We struggle in every area of life. We struggle with why some things must be. Why does a plane crash, or a bridge collapse in Korea? Why do children die?
Even though we accept struggle as a part of life, we still question its value, its purpose. Along with our questioning, there is one immutable fact that, if accepted, will give your suffering — your struggling some meaning…
In life’s crucible, God is there!
And He will help you through it all!
Note three PRINCIPLES about wrestling with God in the struggles of life. These principles are seen in the life of Jacob. He is camped at the river Jabok on the night before he is to confront his brother Esau. Jacob is coming home. He doesn’t know what to expect. It’s been twenty years. This is a time when Jacob could really use a friend to help him.
Principle #1 —
Get alone with God
“And Jacob said, O God…” Ge 32.9a
Note that Jacob prayed, but he didn’t get an answer right away. Jacob had grown accustomed to following God by this time. He was committed to going back — to doing the right thing. This prayer was public. But Jacob got no answer until he got alone with the Lord.
Many of us depend too much on the prayers of others, such as the preacher, friend or spouse. God often wants to do something personal in us, and we, like Shakespeare’s weak-kneed would-be lover, want someone else to plead our case. When you’re going to wrestle with the problems of your life it is important to get alone with God. Note verse 24: “And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.”
When we get alone God is able to speak in that still small voice, asking us the hard questions: “What is thy name?” (Ge 32.27b). To Jacob that question meant more than simply what people called him. It meant he had to answer God concerning his character. Here, alone, Jacob was finally able to answer God. We need to appropriate that kind of honesty with God. Public prayer is general. When you get alone with God all the veneer and outer facades melt away. There is no one to lie to. And you wouldn’t have the nerve to lie to HIM anyway! Get alone.
Principle #2 —
Get Authentic With God
We don’t have to settle for the superficial things in our relationship with God. The name Jabok means “to run about and stir up dust.” Jacob did a lot of that on that night. It wasn’t a physical battle, but an emotional upheaval. It was a battle within. In Hosea 12 the same word is used for prayer and weeping. There was much prayer and weeping that night for God to strip away everything superficial in Jacob’s life. He was doing what we used to call “praying through.” Jacob was not willing to have a religion — He wanted God!
What’s authentic about you today? Is it your clothes? Is it the way you comb your hair? Or is it an authentic relationship with an Almighty God — so honest and open that you will not settle for anything less than Him. And you want no less in your human relationships.
Principle #3 —
Get Amended By God
When you get alone and authentic with God, the next thing that WILL happen is change. God will change you. Jacob hung around the whole night waiting for answers. God honors that kind of persistence. In Luke’s account of the Gospel, Jesus told the parable of the man who is asleep, and another comes knocking at the door in the dead of night. He has company; he needs a loaf of bread. The sleeper doesn’t want to get up, but he can’t get rid of the man, so he finally gives in and the persistent knocker has his request.
Here is the bottom line. Jacob wrestled all night long with the angel of God (Jesus). The dawn was about to break. Jacob knew, as did the Lord, that the morning light would bring Jacob’s death if the angel did not leave. (No man can see the face of God and survive.) And so the angel entreated Jacob,
And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.
(Gen 32:26-28 KJV)
With all the wrestling that night, Jacob wouldn’t give in, even with his life in the balance. He would not let go of God’s presence until he firmly established whom God was going to be in his life. Nothing else mattered! And it changed his whole life.
The questions are already in your own mind.
“How about me?
Am I ready to do business with God like that?
Do I want God that much?
Am I willing to get alone with Him,
get authentic with Him?”
If you are willing — He is willing to meet you there at the place where the dust gets stirred up. And your life — like Jacob’s is going to be different.
“I’m not sure about that.”
Neither was Jacob.
“I’ve never done that before.”
Neither did Jacob.
“I don’t see how……”
Like Jacob, you don’t have to see beyond your need for God. You only have to see that you need and want Him more than
A man was traveling in his automobile along a deserted country road when the dark fell. He switched on his headlights. In another two hours it became pitch black, except for the headlights. He slowed to a stop to look at a road sign. The sign had been taken down and laid against the post. There were three directions, two for cities, and one announcing a washed-out bridge. But which direction was which? Pondering his next move, the man became frightened. He thought to himself, “If I choose the wrong way I could go over that washed out bridge and plunge to my death. I could wait until dawn so I can see.” Then it occurred to him that he could see as far as the end of his headlight beams. When he would go forward, the headlights would move ahead also. He would be able to see what he needed, when he needed it!
My dear friend, you only (always) have two choices with God. Trust Him or don’t. If you want Him as much as Jacob wanted Him, then you only have one choice. Trust Him.
I am sure by now all of you, like me, are weary of hearing Black Lives Matter, and all the rhetoric associated with the phrase. It isn’t really being used as an introduction to a productive and honest conversation, or even as a true call to arms to change injustice. I am not, and I will emphasize that for commenters, am not wanting to discuss the worthiness of the cause and all the associated protests, and violence. We can leave that for other posts.
Because this has been at the forefront of our minds the last months, no matter which side of the issue you take, I have been giving a lot of thought to what makes life matter. You can throw out a phrase the media seizes or glorifies without really having any true understanding of it. That is inconsequential to the truth, and only the mentally lazy or immature accept it at face value.
For this thing we sum up as life, a big word indeed, what does give it meaning? What really matters? I’m sure since the beginning of human ability to discuss and record ideas no consensus has ever been found, but, at least in Western society as I know it, until recently, it appears to me that people, families, cultures, governments, philosophers, historians, educators and theologians shared some ideas.
What are they? Unique to each person, we can never speak authoritatively for all, and I do not seek to do that here. I would just, with your assistance, examine some of the more common motivations that I became familiar with through my childhood, born in the late fifties, and adult years, and feedback from friends, family, and ideas from my reading and studies.
It seems to me that every generation bore the burden of living up to unspoken standards, perhaps innocently as a toddler, and maybe even unwillingly as the child grew and became a teenager, in certain instances. No individual came away unswayed by those parental and societal expectations, not even the great and small rebels who defined their rebellion against those very expectations, be they bath and bedtime, curfew, length of hair or hemline, or denial of civil rights or religious freedom.
From earliest human history, people had to work to provide their safety, sustenance, and hope for another tomorrow. Only relatively recently in our existence have we had the luxury of leisure and reflection.
I know that life for my grandparents was all about work, survival, and that included surviving the Great Depression and all that entailed. Gardening especially, farming in Kansas during Dust Bowl years for my dad’s family. Re-using, repairing, making do, sacrificing for the whole family, and especially for the sick, the young, the old.
Throughout our American history, immigrants arrived on our shores with their own expectations and goals and desires. They brought into our melting pot cultural richness and beliefs that added to who and what we are, added by their work, sacrifice, hunger for success and life for the generations they gave birth to. But they also, upon arrival and integration into American life and society accepted the expectations of previous generations of Americans and determined to live up to those expectations, those standards, and stand alongside their American brethren to contribute not only daily bread to their hungry children, but to the building and protection and success of this great country that they gave everything for.
Immigrants did not leave their homes and families behind, almost everyone of them knowing they would never see father, mother, brothers and sisters again, to come to America and stand idle, to wait in a bread line, to huddle in hovels and listen to the powerful tell them how to live and what to think. They came with dreams yes, but equal measures of determination, grit, work ethic, and hope. They came to build, and build they damn well did.
When I was a child our parents, and every teacher I ever had, painted pictures in our daily lives, in our minds, by words and deeds, of those who came before and built. In kindergarten we learned the story of the Pilgrims and Indians and the struggle to establish a home in the wilderness. Later in school we celebrated Thanksgiving through plays and the fictional words of Patricia Mullins “Why don’t you speak for yourself, John?”
In very early years we knew how America was settled, we knew of the building of the Colonies, the great Revolutionary War, the establishing of the United States of America under our Constitution. Later we learned more, the fleshing out of the great statesman and their long days writing that Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and every single one of us had a picture of George Washington leading his troops across the Delaware River, but also leading his fledgling country as it began a legendary march into history and world power.
Subsequently we learned about American expansion across the Continent, we learned about the Louisiana Purchase, we learned about the rise of industrialism, slavery, the abolitionist movement, the compromises and Congressional battles prior to the firing on Fort Sumter. Here in the South most of us learned about Reconstruction from old family members and friends. We learned about the World Wars, especially WWII.
Because we knew about the Spanish Flu, the Great Depression, we learned that people survive great pandemics and economic crashes. We knew about victory gardens, war shortages, rationing, and such obscure things as women painting a line down their legs to simulate stockings because they had none. Every family had an aunt or mother who learned to weld or rivet during the war.
We learned about heroes and heroines. We learned about heritage and pride. We learned patriotism. I was taught the states and their capitals by an old black man who worked for my father, along with a lot of other special things, both academic and practical, and I remember the dignity, confidence and pride this friend of mine had when he taught me, though he was impoverished and caught in alcoholism. This was a time when he was denied basic rights and privileges that I, unknowingly at that time, had merely by virtue of my birth.
I learned that he expected me to come to him after test day and report my good grades, measuring not only the knowledge he imparted to me, but my valuing of that teaching and time invested, and I learned that his expectations were very high. All this he did voluntarily, imparting knowledge he had gained to me just because that is what people did, across race, culture, societal and economic status.
Let’s narrow this in some, and individualize it. When I graduated high school, I went into the world expecting that there was some thing I had to contribute, some actions and work and effort that I should put forth, primarily for my own success, but also because I wanted, like every other graduate in my class, to make my mark, to measure up. But we all had an unspoken idea that we owed the world we lived in our best.
I graduated in 1976. We were caught up in a year long celebration of 200 years of American history, excellence, and potential. In that time, not only for us young adults, but also for the country, there was an air of pride and patriotism, and absolute belief that we had greatness ahead. As valedictorian, I still remember the closing line I wrote for my speech.
“We now have the key to our future. We must find the lock it opens.” At this point, I am told, my future father in law gave me applause. You better believe that ranks in my list of things that matter. He was one tough man, not given to praise.
Later when I married, we each had a firm idea of what we wanted and what we had to offer, as well as what it would take to make life happen for us. First and foremost, perhaps even more than love, that idea for both of us involved work. My husband knew absolutely what hard work was already, and he immediately and everlastingly (still going like the Energizer Bunny!) set out to make a future for us. I wanted more than anything to build a wonderful home for us, to learn to cook, especially his favorite biscuits and gravy, and to help work and provide security for the coming children.
We wanted to be able to provide our own home for our family, give them security, teach them about life, work, home, family, and yes, all those things I listed above, the richness of our American heritage and experience. We wanted to prepare them for an indifferent and often hostile world, to give them confidence, strength, determination, hope in the face of trials, and belief, both in themselves, and in our family.
If there was anything we took for granted back then, it was perhaps the freedom we had to practice our Christian faith, to have a church building, a parish family, priests and nuns and parish schools, and all the richness and splendor and fruits of living in a land where you can worship God and try to pass on your faith to your children, all without persecution or punishment. In those busy days, we gave little thought to not only the American history we knew insuring our right to worship, but the poor workers who make our beautiful old church building possible, the priest who is now a candidate for sainthood because he gave his life in a Yellow Fever epidemic, staying in town to care for the sick and dying.
We wanted to build a good life for each other, we wanted a great future for our family, our sons. We didn’t just have an idea in our heads for how life should be, not for ourselves, and not for our sons. We wanted to teach them all they needed to know to make the best of their lives, to be able to go out into the world and make a good life for themselves, yes, but more still. We wanted to teach them about adversity, strength, endurance, getting up when life knocks you down. We wanted to teach them to do things for themselves, and that they could do hard things.
We wanted to teach them the value of hard work, and my husband especially was determined that no son of his would be anything less than the hardest, toughest, longest enduring man standing when the chips fell. We wanted them to see the value of their contributions, to our family, and to our common experience as Americans.
Our sons knew what it was to work from a very young age, and just as my husband and his siblings had done, they contributed to our family’s well being. As teens they helped pay their school tuition, they always paid for their own gas and insurance, and even sometimes bought their own clothes, especially if they wanted nicer things than mom was willing to spring for. Yes, shout out to you, number two son.
They learned the cost of failure, of lack of effort, and of mistakes. They learned that actions have consequences, and they learned that their parents would not bail them out of troubles, large and small. They learned to make recompense when their actions cost others. Looking at you, number one son and the spray painting of the barn episode.
They learned that mindless destruction and irresponsibility had repercussions, number three son and the screwdriver episode, and that privileges were not to be taken for granted.
As a proud, very proud, mother and grandmother now, I can say they learned all those things well and taught us others. They are finer men than we dreamed of, and life will never mow them down. They are wonderful husbands, fathers, and each in his own wonderful and unique way adds value to our world. They are patriots all. They have brought very special and resolute women into our family, and we have eight wonderful grandchildren who represent the hope and the future of our family.
To help me gather thoughts for this post, and because I value their opinions most, we had a conversation this week about what makes life matter.
Every one of them ranked family at the top of the list. One daughter in law is in school, and that ranks high on the list of things that matter. Another daughter in law, established in her field, still seeks further personal purpose and feels the quest continues, a sentiment that I share, although she sure words it better. A sense of humor, so necessary in our family, which is perhaps why my daughter in law named it.
My youngest son just finished school a year ago, all while working and raising three kids. He wants a better life for his wife and family, but he also wants the things he does to make his family, especially his wife and kids, proud of him, as well as us, his parents. And by us, he mostly means dad, because that’s a healthy desire in a young man, just as my husband was satisfied that he was able to please his father and make him proud.
My middle son separates his motivations into professional and personal. Professionally he is driven to succeed not only for personal satisfaction ( I can say from experience he was driven from birth toward excellence) but also for the sake of building a team and doing his best for them and his company. Personally, he wants his kids to see and experience the limitless possibilities life offers, and to understand that sacrifices must be made to win those things. He wants them to be confident in the security and love of their family, as do all of the sons and daughters in law. He wants them to be aware that their lives and potential are tied to the sacrifices of generations of family before them.
My oldest son experienced personal loss this year in a big way, a huge and heartbreaking struggle this year has been for him, again, personally and professionally. As far as bad things happening, big and small, 2020 has been a year of hits for him. Through it all he has not only kept on going, he has made his kids a priority, kept a sense of humor, hope, faith, and made time to come home and help take care of me in my time of recuperation, and make things easier for his dad by doing whatever he can around the house.
I had a bad ankle injury a few months ago, and it is a long journey toward being able to walk again. Every single one of my sons and daughters in law have been there for me in ways large and small, from one son who had to make himself the contact during and after surgery, all of them who took me to and from doctor and hospital, cooked and cleaned and shopped and mowed grass. Perhaps most important, they just came when I needed company and encouragement most. Extended family brought meals and visited. Family matters.
And because this is what the post is most about, passing on what matters, I’ll brag on the grandchildren, from the oldest ones who even stayed with me a day or two to help when I was almost immobile, to the little ones who give me hugs and solemnly promised not to bump my leg, all of them have been there for me when it matters.
My husband has worked a full time job, been nurse, caretaker, coach (he’s brutal – no room for safe places in his thinking) and been the most uncomplaining companion in the world, when it was not easy to be any of those things, and when I was depressed and hurting and a big PITA. He epitomizes the for better or worse clause, and he is just absolutely as faithful and true and motivated in the worst as he is the better.
All these things matter. For us, they are the tip of the iceberg of love, family, tradition, hope, faith. They are the spoken representation of what can never truly be spoken. Together we stand, and we will not fall, and we will succeed in giving the eight kids entrusted to us to care for the best chances we possibly can to grow into adults who find their meaning and build their lives.
I submit to you that life must have deep and powerful, sacrificial meaning. One phrase can’t give life meaning. Signs can’t make life matter. Before it comes to showdowns with police, especially if they end in gunfire, life matters or it does not. From the time of conception, if this world is to matter, then life matters, and parents, family, society owe that child protection and care.
I will say what I said when Mike Brown died, and I saw his body on the street. I cried, I cried for a loss of what should have been as well as what was. He, through his own actions, lost the future chances to make his life about something that mattered.
When one young man or woman loses their life, we have all lost. But when a large, formidably, scary percentage of our youth are not given meaning and hope, values, responsibilities, family, and expectations, yes, expectations from parents and society, we all lose.
Until society understands the phrases Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter, and all their other words designed to inflame, are incomplete without an ending, we have work to do. I think that our thinking should go further.
Life Matters Because…
A few notes in conclusion here. Most of you know me from family and religious posts. I have mostly kept my faith out of this. It is too huge a part of life to tag on here, and possibly deserves another post. You may of course address that in comments, but in order to stay on track with the ideas here, I did not include the most important thing in my life, but not out of neglect or failure to appreciate it.
This post is intended to encourage personal reflection (I could insert various scoffing adjectives from my sons here, as they reluctantly shared xxx feelings, as they so eloquently put it). I do not intend it to be a referendum on the various shootings, protests, and political arguments about them.
Be respectful, please.
Addition to original post.
In their review of this post, my sons placed emphasis on the value of humility. I’m sorry I forgot to include that, it’s very important to them. Indeed, it was a three way tie as to who is most humble.
Have you ever had one of those days when everything was going along beautifully, and then suddenly a crisis hit? It may have caused you to say, “Why me, Lord? What did I do to deserve this?”
The Bible asks the question, “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?” (Romans 11:34 NKJV).
The answer to that question is I have . . . on many occasions. I’ve tried to give God counsel and direction.
But as I think about my attitude many times, I realize that I’m not alone. That’s why I’m so glad Peter’s story is in the Bible. You have to love a guy like him, because he was so utterly human. He was outspoken and thoroughly honest. Peter said what we’d probably say in a situation.
Although Peter was impulsive, impetuous and hotheaded, he also was very honest, courageous, and intelligent. And perhaps he was the most accessible of all the followers of Jesus.
I can look at Peter’s life and say, “There’s hope for me,” because not only does the Bible record Peter’s great victories, but it also records his foibles and defeats.
In Caesarea Philippi, Jesus commended Peter for his insightful statement in which he recognized that Jesus was the Messiah. But then Jesus spoke of His impending death and suffering.
Matthew’s Gospel tells us, “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day” (16:21 NKJV).
Jesus knew exactly what was in His future. It came as no surprise to Him. He even knew who would betray Him. He knew He would be raised from the dead, and He knew exactly when that would happen.
Peter, however, couldn’t believe that Jesus was saying this. In fact, Jesus used an interesting word here when He said He would be killed. From the original language, this word also could be translated “murdered.”
I wonder if Peter heard anything else after that. He must have been thinking, “What? That cannot happen!”
It’s commendable that Peter was concerned about Jesus, but he was missing what Jesus was trying to say. And he took things way too far: “Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!’” (Matthew 16:22 NKJV).
Maybe Peter thought, “Look, I’m on a roll. It wasn’t that long ago when He told me, ‘Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.’ Hey, I’d better set Jesus straight. He’s making a big mistake.”
Interestingly, in the original language the word used for “rebuke” carries the meaning of a leader or an officer rebuking someone under his jurisdiction. It’s a word that would describe a commanding officer giving his troops a tongue-lashing. It also implies that Peter did this repeatedly.
So picture this in your mind. Jesus had just made this statement and was obviously in anguish over it. And then Peter took an authoritarian position over the Lord and repeatedly began to rebuke Him.
Peter had lost touch with reality, but Jesus set him straight. He said, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:23 NKJV).
Now, why did Jesus say that? Because it was Satan who wanted to stop Jesus from going to the cross. But Jesus would not let anything deter him from His course. He knew what He had to do.
So one moment Peter was speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and the next moment he was speaking under the inspiration of the devil himself. It’s that continual struggle that we all face between right and wrong, between the flesh and the Spirit.
The Bible says, “The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions” (Galatians 5:17 NLT).
And guess what? The battle never stops. No matter how long you’ve been a Christian, this battle will rage until your final day. On one hand you can speak under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and on the other hand you can speak under the inspiration of the flesh. We must guard our words and be careful, because that battle will persist.
May God help us to trust Him when He doesn’t do things the way we think He ought to do them. May God help us to trust Him when we’re tempted to say, “Why, Lord?” or when, like Peter, we say, “Lord, that’s a bad idea. What are you doing? What are you thinking?”
God is thinking of His eternal purposes. We can only see the short term and what will benefit us in this moment. God is looking at the long term, the big picture. And He knows what He’s doing.
It’s during these times that we must trust Him, cast ourselves at His feet and say, “Lord, I admit to You that I don’t understand. I don’t know why. But I thank You that You are in control.”
When it comes to things that I don’t understand, I fall back on what I do understand. I understand that God loves me, that He’s looking out for my best interests, and that He will work all things “together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28 NLT).
I don’t understand a lot of things that happen in life, but God will make it clear in that final day. Until then, we all need to trust Him.
When you consider your finances, what comes to mind? What you have or don’t have? Whom you owe or what to buy? Do you feel stress, or are you at peace? God’s Word offers much wisdom for our financial decisions. In this message, Dr. Stanley covers common concerns, discussing what God thinks, says, and promises regarding personal finances—and what we can expect if we are obedient to His principles. Discover the path to generosity and provision as you learn how to trust Him with this important area of life.
When you consider your finances, do you feel emotional turmoil and stress, or are you at peace? What thoughts come to mind?
Do you focus on how much you don’t have, how much you’d like to have, what you could do to increase your income, or what you would do with more money? These are common concerns for all of us, but there’s another spiritual aspect we should consider when we think about our finances—what does God have to say about it, and what would He have us give away?
When it comes to our personal finances, it’s important to understand that we must follow God’s principles and not human advice or reasoning. We need to know what God thinks, says, and promises regarding financial decisions and what we can expect if we are obedient to His principles.
Proverbs 3:5-10 provides divine guidance that applies to financial matters as well as every other area of life. We are told to trust God and not rely on our own understanding. This means we honor Him with our wealth by giving Him the first part of what we receive. If we follow this advice, the Lord promises to supply our needs.
The Basic Teaching of Scripture
• God owns it all. “For the world is Mine, and all it contains” (Ps. 50:12). This is a difficult truth for many people to accept because from a human perspective, we’ve worked to earn all that we have. However, we are not the owners of anything but the caretakers, managers, or stewards of whatever God has entrusted to us. He is the source and giver of our money and possessions.
To illustrate what happens when we forget this truth, Jesus told a parable about a rich man whose land was so productive that he had to build larger barns to store it all (Luke 12:16-21). He foolishly said to himself, “You have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry” (v. 19). But God rebuked him, saying, “You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?” (v. 20). Then Jesus concluded the story by saying, “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (v. 21).
We are all only one heartbeat away from losing all our earthly goods. Then we must stand before the Lord to hear His evaluation of our lives. The time to live wisely according to God’s instruction is now.
• God wants us to give. Malachi 3:8-12 shows us God’s perspective on tithing. The Lord equated the people’s withholding of tithes and offerings with robbing Him. Then He told them, “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows’” (v. 10). Although this was spoken to the nation of Israel, the reasons for generosity still apply to us today.
To provide for the Lord’s work.
To provide for the needs of others.
To prove to us that God is faithful.
• God wants us to give cheerfully. “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). Our heart attitude is very important to the Lord. He wants us to give voluntarily and happily out of love and gratitude.
• God warns about disobedience in giving. Since we are commanded by the Lord to give Him a portion of what He’s entrusted to us, there are consequences if we choose to disobey Him. In Haggai 1:6, the Lord reprimanded the people of Judah for their disobedience saying, “You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.”
Giving to God is not just a demonstration of appreciation, thoughtfulness, and generosity; it’s an act of obedience. He has provided us with every good gift, but if we neglect Him, everything we earn or acquire will not give genuine satisfaction. That only comes with obedience.
God’s Plan for Our Giving to Him
His Motivation. God loves us and wants us to understand that He is the one who enables us to prosper financially. “Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone” (1 Chron. 29:12).
His Promise. “Your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine” (Prov. 3:10). The Lord blesses those who trust Him enough to give as He desires.
His Protection. “Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it may not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes” (Mal. 3:11). When we follow God’s guidelines for our finances, we don’t have to fear deprivation because He leads us to make wise financial decisions according to His will.
His Generosity. “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return” (Luke 6:38). The Lord gives us more than we expect or deserve.
His Sufficiency. “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” (2 Cor. 9:8).
Our willingness to follow God’s financial principles is a matter of trust in His Word. If we are confident that He will do what He has said, we’ll be generous, knowing that He will be faithful to supply our needs when we give Him a portion of all He’s provided for us.
Is it difficult for you to trust God with your finances? If so, what are you afraid will happen if you begin to give a portion of your income to Him?
What attributes of God reassure you that He can be trusted to supply your needs if you will obey Him in the matter of giving?