Effective Stewardship

Giving Beyond Our Abilities

Ken Williams

In the “Effective Stewardship” program, the maxim is frequently stated that the amount of money a person possesses actually has little to do with his or her ability to give to the Lord’s work. We cite the Macedo­nian Christians who were very poor, but who were commended by the Apostle Paul for giving beyond their ability. In other words, they gave far beyond a level at which they might have been expected to give.

A recent edition of Bits & Pieces contained this story:

After a 23-year career, Anne Scheiber retired from her job with the IRS in 1944. During all those years, she never earned more than $4,000 a year and never received a promotion, despite having a law degree and leading her office in turning up under-payments and under-reporting. Upon her retirement, she took her $5,000 in savings and invested it in the stock market. Some 50 years later, in Jan­uary 1995, Anne died at age 101. By that time, her $5,000 investment had grown to $22 million in stocks. She made all her own investment decisions, scouring The Wall Street Journal every day, and her portfolio in­cluded such companies as Paramount and Coca-Cola. She willed all of her stock holdings to Yeshiva University in New York — a university that had never even heard of her.

Here was an average person earning what appears for that time to have been an average salary, who retired with less-than-average savings, who accumulated much more than an average estate. It was her diligence and commitment that made all that possible.

In a similar way, many of the most faithful supporters in any local church are not the people who earn large incomes or who have substantial wealth. In fact, because their money is so precious to them, a lot of people with substantial wealth have a very hard time parting with it.

Rather, it is average people making average incomes who give liberally and generously to support the ministry of their respective churches. How are they able to do this? After all, don’t they have bills to pay just like everyone else?

Here’s how: Like the Macedonians, they first give themselves to the Lord. And like the Macedonians, when that happens, their financial resources soon follow.

You see, it is all a matter of priorities. That which we consider to be of greatest importance is that which we support with our time, talents and treasure.

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