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The Wealth of The Giver

When I was a child, my sisters and I would always line up to give our offerings at the church.  We loved missions march night.  That was when we would all march around the church and at the end we would put our money into a bank as a missions offering.

I really liked giving as a child.  I won’t act all self-righteous and say that I was a better more altruistic person than others.  I don’t for a moment believe that.  I just enjoyed giving.  There was something about it that just hit a spot in my heart.

Jump up to adulthood.  My wife and I held jobs while we went to school.  Almost all of our money was taken up “starting our lives together.”  Actually we spent more than our money.  We used credit cards.  The bad news about credit cards is for another day.  Just know that we lived a little beyond our means starting out.  I hear that is quite common.  From my own experiences I know it is also quite idiotic, as well.

We would often go out to eat and have a particularly good waitress.  When that happened we would always talk about how we wish we could give the waitress a $100 tip because she was working so hard.  We would talk about what things we would do when we got older and got rich.

Fast forward to this spring.  Our church offered the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University as a small group.  We looked at the $100 price tag and really wanted to do it.  We scraped together $100 and took the plunge.  The FPU experience is something that I won’t describe here.  I would like to lead the group eventually, and I plan on working toward that.

Dave talks about being a giver.  He talks about it a lot.  When my wife and I were starting we barely had enough money to give $40 a month to the local Christian radio station we listened to.  We almost NEVER tithed.  And other giving was just not even in the picture.

I’d like to interject here that I have read many inspirational/motivational books in my life.  They talk about having that dream that motivates you.  The one that really gets you up and going.  I never really had a dream like that.  There are many things I’d like to do.  I just never was passionate about them.

Yes, I’d like to have this or that.  I have a dream car, etc.  But not so much that they really get me going.  What can I say?  I guess maybe I am a man of simple tastes.  I have my family: a beautiful wife, three fantastic kids.  I’d like another dog, but can’t right now.  Would I like to go across the country in a luxury coach?  Heck yeah!  But I can’t be bothered to try to get there at the moment.  Would I like to do mission work in another country?  Sure.  But I have other things going on for now.

Back to the topic.

Dave teaches about giving as standing with an open hand as opposed to a clenched fist.

I like to think of it as Ebenezer Scrooge versus Andrew Carnegie.  Old Scrooge had lived his life making money and pinching pennies.  He lived a miserable, lonely life.  He had no friends.  His love had left him.  No one loved him, except maybe Bob Cratchet and Scrooge’s nephew, both of whom never really completely gave up hope.  He took and took but never gave.  He may have been wealthy in money, but he lived a worse life than many of the poor.  He was always standing with the clenched fist.

Andrew Carnegie, on the other hand, was a well-known philanthropist.  He was one of the first millionaires.  He believed that God gave in excess to people so they could give it back.  He lived a happy life donating money and establishing charities.  He stood with an open hand.

You see, the clenched fist can save money.  In fact if a person is trying to save, it is dangerously easy to go the route of the clenched fist.  The problem with the clenched fist, holding on tightly to your money, is that, although none ever leaves, God can’t get you to open your hand for a blessing.

The man who has an open hand is open to God using him.  I believe altruistic behavior, giving, leads to a healthier life.  We started tithing during FPU.  Now it is the first thing we budget for.  God has blessed us since we opened our hand.  We also give to the church building fund.  We continue to give to the radio ministry.

I think I may have finally captured a dream I can believe in.  Remember that waitress and the $100 tip?  What about going to Africa or South America to spread God’s love?  What about paying for someone else to go?  What about buying school clothes for a child who has nothing?  See, these things MOVE me.  I want to be an Andrew Carnegie.  I don’t want to be an Ebeneezer Scrooge.  God has given me the desire to experience the wealth of the giver.

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