I continue to miss my father no matter how old I become. He was a very wise man who loved the Lord. He set an amazing example for me, not only by what he said, but by the way He lived.
Dad had a very challenging time raising our family in the World War 2 years. His first teaching job, in Doylestown, PA, earned him just $1,200 a year. As a result he was forced to leave us to live with his parents in Sunbury while he taught there because he couldn't afford to take us along. He would return to be with us on weekends. His work on the Manhattan Project and teaching Air Force cadets during the war, then teaching high school after the war, meant that we had to move almost every year until he could get a permanent job. He coached and worked extra jobs at night to support us. He couldn't even afford to buy a car until I was in second grade. I was in fourth grade when dad finally dad got a good permanent job as an engineer with RCA in Lancaster.
But growing up I soon learned that all my parents owned really belonged to the Lord and was used for Him. Later I discovered something that nobody else ever knew. At times when our new church could not reach its budget and pay bills, dad, as treasurer, would quietly pay the bills from his own money. This continued for many years even during his senior years. Other church leaders and pastors never knew of his sacrifice. But all that he had was the Lord's and he lived that way, all of his life.
The month before I began my first permanent job that had health insurance, our son had emergency surgery. We were stuck with major bills and no insurance. And on a beginning teacher's salary this was tough. And there were other bills that kept us strapped financially during those days.
One day I shared with my dad how hard it was to meet our obligations and still give regularly to the Lord. He shared with me some of their experiences in very tough times and how the Lord always provided when they were faithful in their giving. He suggested that I trust the Lord by giving faithfully, off the top of my income, and then see how the Lord would provide for our needs.
We took his wise advice and never looked back. And the Lord has provided all that we have needed … again … and again … and again. Thanks dad for your advice and example. And thank you Lord for your faithfulness and provision to us.
I thought about this experience this week when I was listening to David Jeremiah in his series "A Life Beyond Amazing". His presentation on "A Life of Generosity" really caught my attention. Here is part of what he had to say.
"As Americans we like to pat ourselves on the back and repeat the mantra that we are the most generous nation in the world. Our government does give away a lot of money but that does not make us a generous nation. Generous nations are made up of generous people and it may shock you to learn that more than 85 percent of Americans give away less than 2 percent of their income. And the numbers for evangelical Christians are not much better."
"According to a recent study in Relevant magazine, only 10 to 25 percent of the people in a typical American congregation tithe (that is, give the biblical starting point of 10 percent) to the church, the poor, and kingdom causes. The same report concluded that if the remaining 75 to 90 percent of American Christians began to tithe regularly, global hunger, starvation and death from preventable diseases could be relieved in five years. Additionally, illiteracy could all but be eliminated, the world's water and sanitation issues could be solved, all overseas mission work could be funded and more than $100 billion per year could be left for additional ministry."
Wow, those kind of possible results are stunning. Now I don't know how one predicts those type of results, but even if they were only half completed, it would still be amazing.
For 15 years I have served as financial secretary of our church and, unfortunately, I know more about people's giving than I ever wanted to know. I often wish that I didn't know these things. But, based on what I have seen over the years, the statistic that only 10 to 25 percent of people give a tithe is a very reasonable figure. In fact it might even be too high. While many do give very generously, a large percentage of members do not give a tithe, at least through the church. But, at the same time, I am always amazed at how some folks who have so very little, give so much and so regularly. And I am sure that the Lord blesses them for their sacrifices.
There are times when I wish that I could talk to some people and just share with them the advice that my dad gave me about giving. It is so sad that so many believers are going through life missing the blessings of giving back to the Lord a portion of what he has so graciously given them. Too many believers today have their priorities wrong.
Maybe we need to be reminded of 1 Timothy 6:7, "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out." And many of us have stockpiled more than we even know what to do with. Even king David recognized that God was the source of his wealth. "For all things come from You." 1 Chronicles 29:14. Who owns your money and possessions? Are you living a life of generosity?
Thank you dad for your good advice and example.