Faith Begets Faith
When you give what God tells you to give for His work, He is not going to fail you.
Alright, thank you very much, and hello again, dear radio friends. How in the world are you? Doing Alright today? Oh, I trust so. I was feeling kind of down when I got up, but stagger around a while, and a couple of cups of coffee, and some prayer, and I feel better. And I’m happy to be with you and just to talk about the things of eternity as we find them in God’s inerrant infallible Word, the Bible.
You know, one of the things you have to protect, whether you’re running a college, a church, or your own individual life, is to protect your attitude toward the Word of God; the Bible doesn’t just contain the truth of God, it is God’s Word. Now, textual criticism, as it’s called, can point out certain editorial changes here and there, but when you come right down to it, God has in His miraculous way preserved the Bible for us through the centuries. And it is a unity; all of the various parts of it, though written centuries apart in some cases, fit together beautifully, because it is God’s holy inspired Word. Above all, keep yourself, and your home, and your church, and your organization solid on the Word of God. If you start to wobble on God’s Word, you’ll wobble every place else.
I wondered why, in one particular relationship, why I found out that a man was guilty of certain moral slippage in his life and work. I won’t get into the details, because it’s nobody’s business but his and God’s, and it was at that point mine, but I wondered why and then I began to see the connection. This man had stopped believing that the Bible was infallible; he began to teach others that the first 12 chapters of Genesis were sort of a spiritual religious myth, and that you couldn’t really take them literally. And at the time he began that process, he also began to slip morally. Now, that’s just one example, many years ago now, of how this thing works. You stay true to the Word of God; it is the anchor that will keep you going in the right direction in your own life, in your home, in your organization, in your ministry. Well, I threw that in free. [chuckle] I won’t charge you for that, Alright?
Now, you and I are looking at Mark 12:41-44, the story of the widow’s mite, and the last time we got together we talked about this whole matter of Christian giving. People give because they want to; people give because God’s Holy Spirit directs them; people give because of the attitude that it all belongs to God, and we’re trustees of that total endowment from our Father, so that what we give is at His direction and for His glory. And now, then, we looked at the text and saw that God sees what I give, He sees why I give, and He sees how much I give.
This whole story of the widow’s mite is not to downgrade the value of the generous contributions from people who have more of this world’s substance than others. It says, “Many that were rich,” that was their Dunn & Bradstreet statement there, “Many that were rich cast in much.” They were doing very well; they didn’t just drop in a quarter when they could have given $100 bill; they were giving proportionately, and the Bible recognizes that. So just because you and I may not have a pocket full of money at the time, let’s not look down critically upon people who do have money and who do give from time to time. Thank God for them and pray for God’s blessing upon them. There is no word of criticism about these rich people who gave something, nor indeed should you and I lack in appreciation for those who are willing to give. I think oftentimes the natural human tendency to be greedy enters in to our attitude toward Christian giving.
Would you agree with that statement? I’ll give you an illustration of it. Many years ago, the stories I tell in these regards are old enough and long enough ago, where people already have gone to their reward and nobody’s hurt by it. So that’s why I look back into my own life a few years, rather than giving you something that could hurt somebody because it’s current. You understand me? But anyhow, a good many years ago, now, this would be, I suppose, well over 40, there was a very well-to-do Christian layman who met with a man, whom I knew quite well, to give him some help for his work. Now, they met together at a given place and after some conversation, this man who was well-endowed financially took from his pocket a check; it was, as I was told, in the amount of $50,000; 5-0, $50,000.
And with some small ceremony, handed it over to this Christian leader. Now, the Christian leader knew that the man who was giving him the $50,000 was a multi-millionaire, no doubt about that in anybody’s mind, so that it would have been possible for him to give several times that amount without feeling any pain. This then was the background in the thinking of this man who looked at the donor and said, “Oh, brother, I had hoped that it would be several times this much.” Whereupon, I’m told, the rich man reached out, took the check back, and before the dismayed and astonished eyes of the other man tore the check into little bits and walked out. [chuckle]
Oh, that must have been a scene. I wish I could’ve had a video camera for that one, don’t you? “I had hoped it would be much more.” Well, you’d better learn and I’d better learn to be grateful for what God’s people do, don’t you think so? Please and thank you are still in good taste. I’m saying this because I’ve run across unappreciated people. I’ve run across people who showed every evidence of greed in their attitude toward the dear folk, who, having some of this world’s goods were willing to share some of it for God’s work. Be thankful, let’s learn to say thank you. Amen?
So God knows; He sees what I give; He knows why I give; He knows how much I give, and He knows how much I have left, and that brings us then down to the case in point, which is the widow lady, and it says she was a poor widow. Now, when the Bible says poor, you have to take it in the context of the lands in which and the time in which the Bible’s Books were written. The poor of this world are still in many countries, in pitiful, miserable, agonizingly painful circumstances. I would think that the poorest American who doesn’t have much, and who is struggling to make it in our culture would be considered by millions of others in Third World countries to be quite rich. That’s the difference in standards.
And when the Bible says poor, that means you don’t know where the next meal is coming from. When the Bible says poor, that means you don’t have any other clothes to put on than what you have on your back. When the Bible says poor, that means you may have to sleep on the streets because you have no fixed dwelling place. When the Bible says poor, that means really poor. And so that’s the modifying word that the Holy Spirit uses in this passage, “There came a certain poor widow. And she threw in two mites which make a farthing.” Now, one mite is less than two cents, at most, and two mites, then, would be three point something pennies in our coinage; a very small offering.
But what made it significant was not the size of the amount. What made it significant in our Lord’s eyes was that she didn’t have anything left. He said, “She gave all that she had, even all her living.” Nothing left for groceries, nothing left for bread, nothing left for fish, nothing left for vegetables, nothing left for clothing, nothing left for rent, nothing left for fuel, nothing left for anything, she gave it all. Is that a good idea? Is it today a good idea to wipe yourself out financially in giving? Oh, you say, “Brother Cook, you have to have sense; you have to have some kind of horse sense, and you have to plan, and it’s an irresponsible thing to give everything.”
Well, I suppose I would tend to agree. Except that the Lord Jesus praised this lady for what she did, because He knew why she did it, and because He was God, He knew how much she was going to get the next time around. Sacrifice is related not only to my own motivation as to why I give it, but sacrifice under God is related to His eternal purposes as to what He wants to do for me as a result. Do you follow that? My own father, Charlie Cook, never made I think more than 32 or 33 dollars a week in his life; we were poor folk. I sometimes joke and say, “Even the poor people called us poor people.” [chuckle] And he was always being criticized by the relatives because he gave so much money away.
He would support in the old days, Dr. Fuller. And he would support other Christian broadcasters and missionary enterprises regularly with much more than his tithe amount. And the relatives were always saying, “Charlie, you should put that money into insurance. You should put it into savings. Who’s gonna take care of you when you’re old?” And so on and so on. And he was under constant criticism along that line because of how much he gave away for the Lord’s work out of the very little bit that he had to begin with. I knew that, even as a boy. There came a day when a telegram arrived from the Veterans Administration saying, “In light of your disabilities incurred in service in the Spanish-American War, you’re hereby awarded a pension of so and so many dollars,” and so on and so on.
And that telegram coincided with the same week, I think it may have very well have been the same day that he got the dreaded pink slip at the place where he was working, the Toledo Machine and Tool Company. The Depression struck and there was no more job for Charlie Cook, and they gave him the pink slip, and he came home having been fired to find notice of the pension. Well, he showed me these things and he said, “See, my boy; see, my boy. God takes care… ” Oh, he was overjoyed. [chuckle] Well, I can’t guarantee you that it will always work that way, but I can tell you when you give what God tells you to give for His work, He is not going to fail you, beloved.
Dear Father today, may we give as Thou dost guide us knowing that Thou art faithful. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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