I was on the phone with a friend while she was taking care of an unexpected expense. This expense was not only unexpected, it was quite hefty. Needless to say, this was a blow to her finances. I was feeling kind of helpless on the phone. If I had the money I would have given it to her, no doubt. But I don’t so I can’t. Over the next few days, this situation kept coming to mind. Then I remember the account in the book of Acts when Peter and John were approached by a beggar outside of the temple. Their response was, “Gold and silver I have not, but what I have I give to thee.” Then they healed the man through the power of Christ. They didn’t have money but they had power and authority over sickness and diseases. Stacks on deck, I have not, but do have some biblical truths and a knowledge and that is what I shall give to thee. As I was writing her a letter to go along with two books on finances by Joseph Capps, I realized my stationary was too small and this message was too large. So I decided to make it my next blog.
As I’ve mentioned in my blogs many times before, resigning from my engineering job and accepting a job at a ministry came with a significant pay cut. In this time I’ve learned how to trust God with my finances along with other areas of my life. I haven’t quite mastered this but I’m making progress. I’ve been practicing the First Fruits lifestyle and tithing for years. God has been faithful, but I still wasn’t seeing the dramatic results that the Bible says are possible.
What most people don’t realize is that there are 4 types of giving in the Bible (First Fruits, the tithe, offerings, and alms). Each type of giving has a different motivation, purpose, and return on investment. People don’t see their giving “working” because we often mix up these types of giving. For Tithes are to be paid to the church for its upkeep. Alms are given to the poor. Offerings are gifts to God motivated by love. I know people don’t think the church needs money but the church has to pay to keep the lights on just like you do. You can’t give your tithe to a homeless shelter, that would make it alms and in the ledger book of heaven, it shows that you have not paid your tithes. Therefore you can’t withdraw the blessings from that account because you have not made your deposits. Don’t worry about the pastor putting your hard earned tithe money towards his gator boot fund. You do your part and let God handle dishonest clergy. Don’t let Him cause you both in disobedience.
Feel free to fact check me on this. It’s foolish to believe everything you read, especially on the internet. People with good intentions will give you bad information. Besides these are just a few examples and there is much more to learn. This is just a snowflake on the tip of the iceberg.
I know all of this because I’m blessed to be at a church that teaches it. But it wasn’t until last spring that I discovered where I was missing it. I was neglecting my return on investment! Every single verse in the bible that talks about giving also comes with a subsequent blessing. I thought I was being a “cheerful giver” by not expecting something in return. I was dead wrong! If I truly believe God is good, and He’s faithful, why did I not expect Him to make good on these promises too? God wants us to expect our blessing from our giving. I realized it was foolish to even give without expecting.
ROI on First Fruits: the blessing will rest on your home. (Ezekiel 44:30)
ROI on Tithes: windows of heaven opened and blessing poured out on you. (Malachi 3:10-11)
ROI on Offerings: you’ll reap in proportion to what you sew and all grace will abound towards you. (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)
ROI on Alms: to the measure in which you give it will be given back to you. (Luke 6:38)
The Holy Spirit reminded me of a situation with an acquaintance that happened a few years ago. She asked me to pick her up from work and I agreed to do it. No sweat off my back, but she failed to tell me what time. When I texted her to find out what time she assumed I wasn’t coming and called someone else. She never responded to my text but I showed up at her job anyway around the time I thought she got off. Sure enough, she was standing outside but she wasn’t waiting on me. She thought I wasn’t coming. I was surprised and offended that she didn’t think I would make good on my word to pick her up. (Even if she didn’t do her part by giving me a time.) What kind of person does she think I am? Does she not know my character better than that? Haven’t I been faithful in the past? Then I realized that’s how God must feel when we don’t expect Him to come through on His promises.
The next mistake I was making was with my tithes. I consistently paid my tithes but it usually wasn’t the first transaction I made with my money. Giving the first of your increase is a condition for paying tithes. I realized that I had no excuse to not pay it first. It’s not like I had to saddle up a donkey and make a trek to the temple. I know when I get paid and between online banking and church apps, I had no excuse. On top of that, I work at the church and literally walk pass the offering box several times a day. Now I cheerfully pay my tithes first.
Along with paying my tithes, I make a payment on my First Fruits offering. Each time I set aside money and dedicate it as First Fruits, I’m planting seeds. The way we do First Fruits at my church is we make a pledge in the spring and pay that amount by the end of the year. I realized I don’t have to finish paying the full amount before those seeds start producing. The process begins when one single seed ($1) is planted.
One day I was looking at my yard and noticed how fast and how much the grass has grown. We had several days of rain that week and I had a revelation. More water allows seeds to grow faster, taller, and more luscious. I could help my seed grow and produce faster by watering it more and more often. So whenever I have a few extra bucks or whenever I even think about it, I make an offering to water my First Fruits seed. I reasoned within myself that it’s better to water the seeds in the ground before planting more seed, lest they all shrivel up and die.
This isn’t Prosperity gospel, sowing and reaping are universal laws that will work for you if you work with them. This blog is by no means all inclusive. There is much much more to learn and hopefully I’ve peaked your interest enough to do your own research because the abundant life not only possible, it waiting for you.