HOW GOD TAUGHT ME TO GIVE
BY OSWALD J. SMITH, LL. D.
Let me tell you how God taught me to give. I will never forget it was a lesson that has remained with me to this day.
I had been pastor in a large Presbyterian church in the City of Toronto. One day I resigned and, finally, I became pastor of a church that knew how to give in a way I had never known.
I commenced my pastorale on the first Sunday of January, at a time when they were holding their annual missionary convention. Now, I knew nothing about a convention. I had never seen one in all my life. I
didn’t know the first thing to do. So I just sat there on the platform and watched.
The ushers were going up and down the aisles, giving out envelopes. Presently, to my amazement, one of the ushers had the audacity to walk right up the aisle and hand me–the pastor–one of the envelopes. I sat
there holding it in my hand. Never will I forget that moment. I can still remember it as though it were yesterday.
As I held it, I read: ‘In dependence upon God, I will endeavor to give toward the missionary work of the church $ during the coming year.’ I had never read such a statement before. It was the first time in my
life that I had ever been in a missionary convention. I did not know that morning God was going to deal with me and teach me a lesson that I was never to forget, and one that I was to teach to scores of other
churches all over the country in the years to come.
At first I started to pray. I said, ‘Lord God, I can’t do anything. You know I have nothing. I haven’t a cent in the bank. I haven’t anything in my pocket. This church only pays me $25 a week. I have a wife and
child to keep. We are trying to buy our home, and everything is sky-high in price.’ All that was true. The first World War was on.
‘I know that,’ the Lord said. ‘I know you are only getting $25 a week. I know you have nothing in your pocket and nothing in the bank.’
‘Well, then,’ I continued, ‘that settles it. I have nothing to give and I cannot give anything.’
It was then the Lord spoke. I will never forget it.
‘I am not asking you for what you have,’ he said.
You are not asking me for what I have, Lord? Then what are you asking’:
I am asking you for a faith offering. How much can you trust me for?’
Oh, Lord,’ I exclaimed, ‘that’s different. How much can I trust you
As I paid the final amount, I realized that it had been one of the greatest experiences of my life.
Now, of course, I knew nothing at all about a faith offering. I had never given such an offering in my life. But I knew the Lord was speaking. I thought he might say $5 or perhaps even $10. Once in my life I had given $5 for missions. Once I had given $3. But never more. I almost trembled as I waited for the answer.
Presently it came. Now I am not going to ask you to believe that God spoke to me in an audible voice, but he might just as well I have done so. I was scarcely conscious of the congregation, as I sat there with
my eyes closed, listening to the voice of God. God was dealing with me that morning,, though I did not realize it at the time.
‘How much can I give?’ I asked.
‘Fifty dollars!’ I exclaimed. ‘Why, Lord, that’s two weeks’ salary.
How can I ever get $50?’
But again the Lord spoke and it was still the same amount. It was just as clear to me as though he had spoken in an audible voice.
I can still remember how my hand trembled as I took my pencil, signed my name and address and wrote in the amount of $50.
If I had waited until I had it, I never would have given it, because I never would have had it.
How I ever paid it I don’t know to this day. All I know is that every month I had to pray for $4, and every month God sent it in some miraculous way. At the end of tire year I had paid the entire amount-$50.
But this is what I want to make clear. I received such a blessing, there came to my heart such a fulness of the Spirit, it was such a thrill, that as I paid the final amount, I realized that it had been one of the greatest experiences of my life.
So great was the spiritual blessing that had come to me because I had given a faith offering, I had trusted God for a certain amount, I had given in a scriptural way, that the next year at the convention, I doubled the amount to $100. And from that day to this I have been sending on thousands upon thousands of dollars to the Bank of Heaven. If I had waited until I had it, I never would have given it, because I never would have had it. But I gave it when I didn’t have it. I gave a faith offering and God honored it.
What about you? Have you given a faith promise offering? If not, give it and God will honor you for it.
Editor’s note. Like the shrewd manager in one of Jesus’ parables, we, too, will be called on to give an account of our stewardship. See Luke 16:2.
Wise stewardship is especially needed in times when so many Christians in the West are facing economic difficulties and the work of Christ’s Kingdom is so vast, and by comparison the church’s resources are so
limited. And sadly, so much of these resources are being drained into ministries to those of us who are already Christians, while two-thirds of the world is going to bed hungry and millions upon millions in our
own generation need the gospel.
Therefore, in managing the resources entrusted to us by our Lord, let us be very wise in how we invest to ensure that our giving sees the greatest impact for the Kingdom of God for all eternity. When we stand
before the Master to give an account of our stewardship, may we hear the words of our Lord and Savior, Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful over a few things. I will make you ruler over
many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord’ (Matthew 25:21).
Oswald J. Smith was the founder and for many years the pastor of The People’s Church in Toronto, Canada. He was also a great missionary statesman, authored many books, and until his death in 1986 at the age of ninety seven, was actively involve in missionary conferences and world wide literature ministry.
According to Billy Graham, ‘Above anyone of the twentieth century, Oswald Smith has probably done more as a missionary statesman to recruit workers for the foreign fields and inspire the prayers and financial support of Christians everywhere to sponsor the implementation of our Lord’s Great Commission.’
Smith’s missionary vision was contagious. Over and over he repeated, ‘The supreme task of the church is the evangelization of the world.’ This he believed. This he practiced. This he lived.
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