One of the most encouraging truths of the Bible is how frequently God uses “small” things. Zechariah 4:10 asks the question, Who has despised the day of small things? That specific question is a reference to the fact that even though the rebuilding of the temple would result in one smaller than Solomon’s, it was clear that God’s blessing and pleasure was upon that work. Basically the prophet was saying, “Don’t despise what God is pleased with.” But beyond that verse, a cursory look at the Scriptures show us that God consistently uses small things. There are many references in the Bible about how God used a small number of men to defeat much larger numbers (the story of Gideon comes to mind). God has used small gifts to bless large numbers. Just think about the boy who gave Jesus his lunch of 5 small loaves and 2 small fish in John 6. Jesus used that gift to feed thousands. When Jesus talked about having faith to do great things, he talked about it in relation to the size of a small mustard seed. I could go on and on with examples. God uses small things.
You might be tempted to think that you don’t have much to offer God when it comes to meeting the needs of the church, but you would be wrong because it’s not the size of what we offer that matters most. What matters most is the heart behind the offering. I can remember many years ago when I first decided to educate myself about money management (what the Bible calls stewardship). Sandy and I were living in Texas trying to keep a small church plant going without any help from a sending church, a church planting organization or anyone else for that matter. The challenge of covering the operating expenses for that church as well as raising money to buy property and build a building were incredible, especially given the fact that I knew nothing about money. So I decided I would begin by educating myself. Fortunately, I’ve always been conservative when it comes to money so we never spent money we didn’t have, although we did have a credit card debt as the result of needing a new transmission in our one and only car (no emergency fund in those days). I read books by Christian authors, Larry Burkett and Ron Blue, as well as some secular money management books that were very helpful. Our first act of stewardship was to faithfully and consistently tithe to our church (a tithe is 10% of your gross income) as well as save 10% of our income. Now, the amount of money we gave and saved was very small because we didn’t make very much. In fact, I remember exactly how much it was. We tithed $30 and saved $30 each week. Because it was such a small amount it would have been easy for us to say, “This isn’t enough to make a difference so why bother.” But that’s not what we did. Each week we gave our tithe and made a deposit into our savings account. And when I led our church in a Capital Stewardship Campaign a few years later, to build our first building, we pledged to give $10,000 over and above our weekly tithe over the next 3 years. That was an astronomical amount of money to me in 1986 and I didn’t have any idea where it would come from but God provided and I believe His provision of a large amount of money was directly related to our willingness to faithfully give a small amount of money. Today I can write that I don’t regret a single dollar that we have given or saved and I’m thankful we’ve been able to consistently increase the percentage of both. It wasn’t always easy, but it was the right thing to do. And those habits over the past 36 years have been a tremendous blessing to our family.
Beginning the weekend of October 29/30, I’ll be preaching a 4-week sermon series called, “All In.” Normally I use this time to preach about stewardship and giving, and I always issue a challenge to our church family to support the financial needs of the church. I’ll be issuing that challenge again this year but I won’t be spending all of my time talking about money. Instead I’ll be talking about what an “All In” commitment to Christ looks like in our daily lives. So let me give you this advance encouragement. Maybe you are someone who has never given or never given faithfully and consistently to support the ministry of Mount Pleasant. My strong encouragement is that you would begin to do that now, no matter the amount. I personally believe in the principle of tithing, in part, because it demonstrates that God has first place in our lives. I hope and pray that’s something you’ll embrace. But no matter what the amount, take a step of faith and begin to be faithful, consistent and generous to this ministry that makes an IMPACT every day, both in our community and around the world. I believe in and have experienced the truth that when we give to God, He gives back to us in a variety of different ways. In fact, I could tell you story after story of how I’ve experienced this in my life. But it all begins with you being faithful to give.