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If the Willingness is There...
By Mike Stickler
2 Corinthians 8:12-15
12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.
13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality.
14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality,
15 as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”
Not far from where I live is Donner Pass. It is named after the famous Donner Party who, as a group, stubbornly and unwisely attempted to cross the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the late fall of 1846. If you’ve traveled over the pass, you recall that it is relatively close to the eastern side of those mountains—in California; but, just west of the city of Reno, Nevada.
With a little bit of effort and ingenuity, they could have walked back out of the mountains when the weather turned cold. Instead, they stayed in the pass. They hunkered down for the winter. Provisions ran out. Some froze ... some died of malnutrition.
And the living began the astounding practice of cannibalism.
It was a sad moment in human history.
It also reminds me how scarcity can blind us, dictate our decisions, even make us hoard the very provisions God has blessed us with to the point where we are not obedient to His direction about them.
Years ago, I worked with a ministry that was willed a large gift from the estate of a long-time supporter. The benefactor was specific in how she wanted her estate’s gift to affect the lives of the needy in her community.
Years ago, I worked with a ministry that was willed a large gift from the estate of a long-time supporter. The benefactor was specific in how she wanted her estate’s gift to affect the lives of the needy in her community. This ministry’s leadership took the money and invested it into several different portfolios in order to get the best security and financial rate of return possible.
This ministry was known to be frugal (a conservative practice the ministry valued); but still, to help many needy people (its mission).
Though, they had gathered ‘little,’ they had never lacked as a ministry. In their minds, they felt they were being good stewards of this donor’s gift by investing it safely for sure and steady financial return.
I saw it differently. I questioned whether the ‘sound financial return’ investment tactic was God’s will for this gift.
I stated to the board of directors that the gift came with a specific set of instructions and, that to honor the giver, they needed to directly honor those instructions – which were to find additional housing and educational sources for the local community (to get a sure and steady social return).
Observe: Their treatment of this gift revealed the heart of scarcity in the ministry’s leadership. Instead of completely trusting God (whether in want‒or‒in plenty), they were misusing the gift to increase their own comfort level and to help overcome their personal fears.
Eventually (and reluctantly), they began to invest the gift in additional community housing and educational sources, as intended. The impact of those very visible, community capacity investments attracted and were joined with more investment from the community for an even greater community impact. As a result, the ministry grew exponentially in their ‘reach’ to the community’s needy (its mission)‒and to the corresponding improvement within the community’s quality of life (its vision)‒in a relatively short period of time.
Today’s Generosity Challenge:
How has the Lord used a blessing to expose an unseen heart condition in your life?
How did you deal with it? ...and what did you learn from it?
Please share your experiences here below.
About Michael Stickler
Mike is an author, radio host, and a highly sought after motivational speaker. His best-selling book, A Journey to Generosity, is widely acclaimed throughout the Christian community. He is the publisher of Generous Living Magazine and writes for the Christian Post, 'A Generous Life' column.