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5 Extraordinary Stories About Giving
As a reader of Christian, I assume that you agree with this statement: “Even if you pay off every debt, build a fully funded emergency fund, invest wisely for retirement, save for your children’s college fund, and pay off your house early, you could still be missing the most important personal finance principle: giving!”
But agreeing and becoming a zealous giver are not the same thing. Hopefully, these amazing stories will inspire you (and me) to become better givers.
1. The Man Who Gave 90 Percent
R. G. LeTourneau (1888 – 1969) was a Christian industrialist who dedicated his life to “being a businessman for God.” He was hugely successful, designing and developing his own line of earth-moving equipment.
LeTourneau was the maker of nearly 300 inventions, and had hundreds of patents in his lifetime. As he succeeded financially, he increased his giving to the point where he was giving 90% of his income to the Lord’s work.
I shovel out the money, and God shovels it back—but God has a bigger shovel. – R. G. LeTourneau
You may be thinking, “I could give 90% too if I was a multi-millionaire.” Maybe so, but LeTourneau didn’t start out wealthy.
A gentle challenge: Whatever percentage of your income you are currently giving, make a lifelong plan to bump that percentage with every opportunity.
2. The Poor Widow Whose Giving Impresses Jesus
Sometimes the sacrifice speaks louder than the size of the gift, as in this story:
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
– Mark 12:41-45 NIV
A gentle challenge: Consider increasing your giving (whether money, time, or talents) beyond mere convenience and into the realm of sacrifice.
3. The Priest Of Auschwitz
During the Second World War, Polish Priest Maximilian Kolbe was arrested by the German Gestapo for hiding Jews and Polish refugees from the Nazis. When three prisoners disappeared from the Auschwitz concentration camp, the deputy camp commander issued orders to pick ten men to be starved to death in order to deter further escape attempts. One of these ten, Franciszek Gajowniczek, began to cry out, “My wife! My children! I will never see them again!” At this point, Kolbe stepped forward, removed his cap, and said, “I am a Catholic Priest. Let me take his place. I am old. He has a wife and children.” Amazingly, the commander allowed the request.
In the starvation cell, he celebrated Mass each day and sang hymns with his fellow prisoners. After two weeks of dehydration and starvation, only Kolbe remained alive. Because the cell was needed for other prisoners, he was given a lethal injection. Those present say he raised his left arm and calmly waited for the injection.
A gentle challenge: Keep your mind open about how you may serve others. Avoid self-imposed limitations . . . God may have something bigger in store for you.
4. A Pastor’s Act Of Kindness Saves Three
The following story is told in more detail by Ilene Wright. Here is my abbreviated version:
Years ago, Ilene’s preacher noticed the family standing in front of him at a New Orleans convenience store did not have enough money to pay for their few items. He tapped the man on the shoulder and said, “You don’t need to turn around, but please accept this money.” The man took the money without ever seeing the preacher.
Nine years later, the pastor was invited to speak at a church in New Orleans. After the service, a man walked up to the preacher and shared this story about how he had come to faith in Christ: “Several years ago, my wife and our child were destitute. We had lost everything, had no jobs, no money and were living in our car. We also lost all hope, and agreed to a suicide pact, including our child. However, we decided to first give our son some food, so we drove to a convenience store to buy him some food and milk.”
“While we were standing in line at the store, we realized that we did not have enough money to pay for these items, but a man behind us asked us to please take the money from his hand and not look at him. This man told us that ‘Jesus loves you.’”
“We left the store, drove to our designated suicide site, and wept for hours. We couldn’t go through with it, so we drove away. As we drove, we noticed a church with a sign out front which said, ‘Jesus love you.’ We went to that church the very next Sunday, and both my wife and I were saved that day.”
He then told the pastor, “When you began speaking this morning, I knew immediately that you were the man who gave us that money.” How did he know? The pastor was from South Africa and had a very distinct accent. He continued, “Your act of kindness was much more than a simple good deed. Three people are alive today because of it.”
A gentle challenge: Maintain your spiritual antennae, remembering that God can multiply the smallest gift many times over.
5. The Father Who Gave His Most Precious Possession
There once was a father who loved his children, but they didn’t love him. One after another left their father’s house, vowing never to return. Finally, the father had a son who reciprocated that love. This son honored, respected, and obeyed his father. The father was thrilled, but he still mourned over his other children who had rejected him. He then came up with a plan – a risky plan: “I will give up my beloved son to make room in my house for my wayward children to return. Hopefully, they will realize my love for them and come back home.”
You may recognize this vignette as the story told in the book of John:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16 NIV
No list of extraordinary giving stories could be complete without including this one. I hope you agree.
A gentle challenge: Commit your family to the Lord – no strings attached.
Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” My hope is that you experience this blessedness that Jesus promises.
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