And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8
Giving by Faith:
A Testimony of God’s Faithfulness
By Walt Brock
I know I am saved by faith, but how do I grow in faith enough to live by faith? It should not be difficult to trust in God, but it is! He has never lied to us, He has always kept His promises, and He will keep them throughout all eternity. So why is it so hard to trust Him? Maybe it is because that aside from the everyday promises like the sun coming up everyday and seed time and harvest (seasons) continuing until He comes, so much of His working is behind the scenes. And sometimes aside from salvation, we never personally experience God’s miraculous works in our lives.
Faith is not complicated; it basically means we believe God, trust Him to keep His Word, and then act upon that belief and trust. In James 2:18, James was quick to point out that one’s faith is evidenced by one’s actions. I have often defined faith in this way: faith is believing in the unseen things talked of in the Bible so that we act upon their reality.
In the early days of the Ironwood ministry, I received much encouragement from reading biographies of spiritual leaders of the past. The time and effort were well spent, but I did not want my faith in God founded only upon the miracles I had read about in the lives of others. I wanted to personally experience that miraculous power in my own life in God’s ministry at Ironwood. So I began finding and claiming promises in God’s Word, and I began what has become a life-time goal of looking first to God for His help and solutions in times of need. I phrased it like this, “Always look first for a spiritual solution to a physical problem.”
Financial challenges provide effective lessons for learning to live by faith. Real faith is required to continue giving to the Lord’s work when we have personal financial issues. The world says that if you want more, earn all you can, save as much as possible, and for sure do not waste or give any away. The Scriptures say to give and we shall receive. I claimed that “backward promise” and by faith started giving, but I soon learned the decision to give was just the beginning of learning to “walk by faith.”
Giving with right motives was my next lesson, and I quickly learned that if I gave with the motive of getting, God would not bless the gift. About our third year in ministry at a time when I was struggling with this promise, a long-time pastor friend stopped by Ironwood. I became convinced that the way God would give me more funds to support my family was to give to other ministry folks in need. My friend was having a difficult time planting a church, and he had a broken window in his car, which cost I decided to cover so God would give me more. He refused to take it. We discussed it back and forth for a while and I finally threw the cash in his window as he drove off. To my shame, when I opened a letter from him the next week, I was expecting an effusive thank-you letter; but instead he sent the money back and said the Lord laid it on his heart not to accept my gift. I was stunned, and the Lord convicted my heart that I was never to give in order to get. Receiving the overflowing abundance from God after we give (Luke 6:38) is a byproduct, not a goal of giving. God will provide that abundant blessing in many strange, unimaginable, and wonderful ways so that there is no doubt as to the source.
This process of learning to live and give by faith starts with a realization and firm belief that God owns it all; He is the source of all wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18). Next we must clear the doctrinal hurdle of our beliefs about God. I must know, understand, and believe that He is good, that He loves me, that He knows everything, and that He is all powerful. As we meditate on what the Scripture teaches about those truths, they will become firmly implanted in the very fiber of our being and become the foundation of every thought as we consider the situation God has placed us in materially.
The fact that He is good means He will not do me evil; if the situation seems hurtful, then I just do not see what God sees. The fact that He is a loving God means He will do me good in my daily life; if it seems He is withholding something materially, maybe He knows I am not yet ready to handle the temptation that would come with abundance (1 Corinthians 10:13). The fact that He knows everything means He is aware of my current situation; He is not preoccupied with something bigger. The fact that He is all powerful means that whatever plight I am in, He has not run out of resources to solve my situation. So if it seems to me that He is not solving my situation, I must ask what spiritual lessons He is trying to teach me, what change I should be making in my life, what do I need to yield, or what direction I should now go. These are just a small sampling of the questions we need to be asking, but we must never ask, “Does He care?” or “Can He do it?” Biblical accounts (e.g., Exodus 17:1–7) consistently teach us that God is very displeased when in doubt His people question His character or His ability.
Once we have cleared these two big hurdles to learning to live by faith, we need to look at specific Scripture passages dealing with the issue of doubt we may be facing in our spiritual struggle to learn to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Listed below are three financial principles and some Scripture passages that deal with material things and how they relate to our learning to “give by faith.”
Principle One—The attitude in which we give is important to God and does affect Him.
When the people of the Philippian church sent a gift to Paul, he indicated that God considered it to be “an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing.”
Philippians 4:18—But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God.
Odor of a sweet smell—a good scent, a pleasing fragrance. Have you ever wondered what gift to give someone who has everything? God says a pleasing gift to Him is a fragrance of giving.
Acceptable and well-pleasing—approved and agreeable; it pleases Him.
Believing by faith that it really is better to give than to receive does not come naturally; it is “by faith.”
Act 20:35—I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
When we give away our hard-earned income to the Lord’s work, we must do so with a cheerful attitude, not in a begrudging manner; this is truly an act of faith.
2 Corinthians 9:7—Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
Purpose—making a choice to give my money rather than to use it for something else, rather than our obligation or duty.
Grudgingly—with grief, sadness, or sorrow.
Necessity—by constraint, distress, or pressure of an overwhelming need.Cheerful—actually means hilarious willing giving; something I am glad to be doing.
The last attitude is one of confidence in God that He will care for me when I obey Him, not as a reward for my actions, but because He has promised to do so.
Hebrews 4:16—Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 13:5–6—Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
1 Peter 5:7—Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
Principle Two—When we give by faith, there may be only one gift, but there are many beneficiaries.
Giving to God through the Ironwood ministry is really “over and above” giving. This response to the Lord to give over and above what one is already giving to his local church means an extra sacrifice on his part, and it takes faith to trust God that He will keep the following promises from His Word.
That He will meet your needs and that He has abundant resources to do so.
Philippians 4:19—But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
That somehow He will make sure that you receive more than you give.
Luke 6:38—Give, and it shall be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
2 Corinthians 9:8, 10—And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness.
That when you put God first, He will add the other things in your life.
Matthew 6:33—But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
That you will not only benefit materially, but eternally as well.
Philippians 4:17—Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.
Matthew 6:20–21—But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
That God benefits.
With many thanksgivings to Him
2 Corinthians 9:11–12—Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God.
With glory being given to Him
2 Corinthians 8:19—And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind.
That the recipient benefits.
The Ironwood ministry benefits, but that benefit is really spread out over many people. Without those already giving to this home missions endeavor, the cost for camp would be about twice as much as the fees charged. Campers would have great difficulty paying for the real cost of camp.
I find it interesting that in this matter of giving by faith that the recipient, the actual one receiving the gift, actually benefits the least from the gift. It is also interesting to note that such a gift carries with it a great responsibility to respond with thanksgiving not only to the giver but also to God, giving Him the glory and praise for the gift of faith. As the recipient prays a thanksgiving prayer to the Lord, he is also commanded to pray for those from whom the gift was received (2 Corinthians 9:14). The receiver must also fulfill his biblical responsibility of stewardship of what he has been given (Matthew 25:14–30; 1 Corinthians 4:2). Last, the recipient is to likewise pass it on to others (2 Corinthians 8:14–16), praising and thanking the Lord as he does so.
Principle Three—Learning to give by faith is a never-ending struggle.
It is a struggle not only with our selfish flesh but also with our God who will never leave us where we are, but will continually be bringing to our hearts a challenge that seems way beyond our own resources. For it is only when the challenge is beyond our own ability that our faith will be stretched, and thus grow.
Ephesians 3:20–21—Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
Giving by faith believes God’s promises that there is absolutely no down side to giving in God’s will. We must be discriminating in where the funds go; but when a worthy ministry or an extra opportunity at church is presented, we should listen to the prompting of the Lord in our hearts and trust Him to build our faith as we experience the joy of giving “over and above” by faith (2 Corinthians 8:1–5).
Asking by Faith
Asking by faith is something I have personally found harder to do than giving by faith. We here at Ironwood must grow in faith to believe that it is better for people, even people in great financial stress, to give as unto the Lord and have His blessing than it is to keep what they have without God’s additional blessing. We must also have the faith to believe that God sometimes reveals His will to people to give by one of God’s servants asking for a need to be met. This is certainly true in 2 Corinthians 8–9 where Paul asked the Corinthian church to collect an offering to send to Jerusalem for the relief of the saints in financial difficulty.
In another example in 1 Kings 17:8–16, God told Elijah (verse 9) that in Zarephath He had commanded a widow to feed and care for him. Then in the next verse that command was transferred to the widow through Elijah’s request, but not directly from God to the widow. When she decided to give the last food she had to the Lord’s work, God blessed her and her son with food for the duration of the drought. The widow was certainly better off after she gave to the Lord and Elijah had again experienced God’s provision for himself and others. I have still found the lesson difficult to learn; but by faith I present a need to you and others whom God may be wishing to bless, and this opportunity may be God’s way of providing two blessings with one gift. The struggle to live by faith, and thus please Him, is a continuing lesson the Lord is teaching us through our asking, receiving, giving, and waiting upon Him.
Hebrews 11:6—But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.