Sometimes people mistakenly think the No Debt No Sweat! Seminar I present in churches around the country is simply about learning how to get of debt and become savers and investors. Sure, we teach all of those skills. But one of the most important parts of the seminar is when I teach on learning to become Godly givers.

Stewardship is an overlooked spiritual discipline in many of our churches. Even churches that think they're doing well and meeting budget are sometimes startled to learn that a disproportionate amount of the giving is being done by folks in their 50's, 60's, 70's, and 80's. In many churches, the teens through the forty-somethings have never learned much about biblical giving.

God's way of giving requires guts. It's tough to give the way God calls us to. It can be frightening. It can even be lonely. Sometimes it means we close our eyes and take a leap — trusting that God will catch us. Following is a little modern-day parable that I like to tell.

It was the day the young missionary had looked forward to for more than five years — finally he was back in the states ready to visit with Mr. Jackson. Mr. Jackson was more than the young missionary's mentor; he was also his largest financial partner. As Mr. Jackson's secretary ushered him into the office the missionary remembered other visits when the two had prayed and discussed the people he was teaching and baptizing into Christ. Mr. Jackson always loved these stories of Jesus' power to change hearts and save souls. The young missionary often suspected that, had the businessman been a bit younger and in better health, he too would be serving God from the mission field.

Mr. Jackson was on his feet behind the big desk offering a warm handshake and his ever-present smile. The meeting began with the usual pleasantries, but soon the conversation turned to the mission work. As the discussion finally began to wind down, the two men knelt together on the floor in front of the desk and prayed. Never one to waste time, Mr. Jackson was immediately on his feet reaching across the desk for his personal checkbook. When he had finished writing the check, he tore it from the pad, and handed it to his missionary friend. The young missionary looked down at the check and tried not to gulp too loudly. He could hardly believe Mr. Jackson's generosity. It was a check for $50,000!

"This is way too much," protested the missionary

"Not at all," responded Mr. Jackson. "My business has been doing very well, and I can afford it. Besides, your needs are great and your work is vital. It is my way of helping you reach the lost for the Master."

With the words barely out of his mouth, Mr. Jackson's secretary opened the door and leaned in, "There's a call on line four — you'd better take it right now."

As the businessman picked up the phone, the young missionary looked through the huge picture window behind the desk. His eyes canvassed the acres of manufacturing buildings on his friend's corporate campus. As he looked across the parking lot filled with hundreds of employee cars, the missionary remembered the hard years of work that had built this enterprise. But, his daydream ended abruptly when he noticed Mr. Jackson's troubled face and heard him say, "Are you sure it's that bad? Okay, call the board into an urgent session, I'll meet your team downstairs in five minutes."

As the businessman hung up the phone, the missionary said, "I don't mean to pry but it sounds like there's a real problem?"

"That's an understatement," said Mr. Jackson, "Right now, I really need your prayers. That was my chief financial officer calling with some pretty sobering news. It appears that our entire shipment of raw rubber from South America has been destroyed. Our international insurer doesn't cover this type of loss, and without that rubber next season's production will fall by over 90%." Then, somberly, he added, "This may put us out of business!"

"I'm so sorry. Besides my prayers, which you will have, what else can I do?"

"I'm going to have to ask that you return the check," said Mr. Jackson.

"Of course," said the missionary handing back the piece of paper, "I understand."

Taking the check, the businessman tore it in half and dropped it in the trashcan beneath his desk. Then, without saying a word, he pulled his checkbook out again, opened it, wrote another check and handed it across the mahogany desk.

Somewhat surprised, the missionary looked at the new check and turned pale. It was a check for $100,000! "I don't understand," he stammered, "you just asked me to return the $50,000 check when you got the terrible news. Why are you giving me twice as much now?"

Mr. Jackson leaned forward and rested his chin on his large hands and, speaking in a low, deliberate voice he said, "You're right, I just got some devastating news. Humanly speaking, there's nothing I can do to fix the problem. So now it's between just the Lord and me. I want Him to know where my trust is."

What faith! I doubt that mine is that strong. Is yours? But if we're ever going to get it right, we have to understand what Mr. Jackson understood. He got the big picture: We really don't own anything — it's all God's! Just like King Solomon of old, Mr. Jackson realized that we come into this world without anything and we will one day check out without anything — all the stuff in the middle is just on loan. Solomon said it this way: "As he had come naked from his mother's womb, so will he return as he came. He will take nothing from the fruit of his labor that he can carry in his hand." (Ecclesiastes 5:15)

Originally posted October 20, 2005


Steve Diggs presents the No Debt No Sweat! Christian Money Management Seminar at churches and other venues nationwide. Visit Steve on the Web at  www.stevediggs.com or call 615-834-3063. The author of several books, today Steve serves as a minister for the Antioch Church of Christ in Nashville. For 25 years he was President of the Franklin Group, Inc. Steve and Bonnie have four children whom they have home schooled. The family lives in Brentwood, Tennessee.

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