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Thursday, September 6, 2007

"Giving Our Way to Prosperity" (Lesson Ten)

Oddly enough, this chapter carries the same title as does the entire book. While I think this lesson is vitally important to the overall study, I wish it were either first or last. It is one of the very best lessons, and it carries the same title as the book, so the placement just seems to be "off."

The purpose of this lesson is "to impress upon the mind that we are blessed in this life for liberal giving" (57, emphasis added). Many think that God's people will only be truly blessed for their sacrifice and work in Heaven, but this lesson reminds us that there are promises for this life for those who give sacrificially to the Lord.

The lesson begins with one of the longest introductory sections of any chapter (57-58). In this section, brother Black recounts stories from him many years of preaching. He tells stories of those who have told him of great blessings due to giving sacrificially. He also tells the other side of the story: stories of those who simply do not give as they should and have even cut down their giving to the bare "minimum" for spite! For those with this attitude--which, I'm afraid, is far too many--a lesson on the blessings to be gained in this life from giving is so helpful.

The first reminder in this lesson is the promise of Jesus to those who had left "all" to serve and follow Him. He told His followers that they would "receive an hundredfold and shall inherit eternal life." What a promise! Wouldn't you like to gain 10,000%? That's what Jesus promised! That doesn't mean that, if I put $1 in the bank today that tomorrow I'll have $100. Jesus was using poetic license to tell His followers that the blessings they gain in this life will be incalculable. These words, brother Black reminds us, should greatly motivate us all to give, give, give!

The next verse discussed in this lesson is Luke 6:38. There Jesus said, "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." This verse undergirds the principle found in Second Corinthians 9:5-6: "He which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully." God is able to take whatever we can give and turn it into great things; sometimes even using other men as the agent through which that is accomplished.

In Malachi 3:10, God promised His people that He would open the "windows of heaven" to bless them if they would, in a word, challenge Him with their offerings. If I really trust God, why would I not see if He didn't mean what He said?

Solomon wrote, "Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine" (Proverbs 3:9-10). Also, First Kings 17:9-16 teaches much the same. This lesson is designed to use these several verses to remind us of the promises God has made. Friends, God always keeps His promises. Why not give to Him and let Him take care of the rest.

This lesson may seem like "health and wealth" Gospel, but it is not. This is not the teaching that says, "Give all your money to this ministry and your mortgage will be paid off." The Bible, instead, teaches us to give to God and let Him take care of the blessings. We may never be wealthy, but we will be well-taken-care-of.