FREE TO GIVE!
by Joanne Carpenter
Giving can be such a wonderful thing. You can either despise the thought of giving to others, or you have the love and desire to give from your heart. I know, we can think of many things we want in life. Did you see that new car, house, dishwasher, suit, or toy for your child? The fact is, we would just want something else. How better would it be if we asked God to provide for us grace and commitment to stop buying, and also that He would give us peace and contentment with the things we have.
From the time I was very little, I was taught that you give part of your income to the Lord first, and then you use the rest for yourself. Scott and I on the other hand, have taught our children that you give first to the Lord, put some back in an emergency fund, save some for the future, and the rest use for bills and monthly living. I assure you, this is not an easy task. First of all, from the time Scott and I were young, we knew that credit card debt was a "no, no". However, we have fallen into the "debt trap" at times, ourselves, for one reason or another. During those times, we had such heavy hearts we couldn't see clear to give to others like we had in the past. Yes, we always gave our tithe to our church, but we didn't have extra to give to others even if they were in need.
Proverbs 22 :7 says that, "The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender." Have you ever been in debt? Don't you feel burdened down and enslaved beyond your control, or do you just try not to think about it? The point I wish to make here is, if we have overextended ourselves, for ourselves, and have strapped our "disposable" income for years to come, how can we begin to think about the needs of others. We have tried to teach our children to give to others who might happen to be in greater need than ourselves. This just recently happened, where our children wanted to give a part of their "odd job" money to someone in need. We were so thankful for their sensitive hearts. If we succeed in teaching them to "Stay out of Debt", they can continue to do so throughout their entire lives to the glory of God!
I have been listening to Dave Ramsey, on the radio, for several years now. Before him, while we were still in college, we would listen to Larry Burkett. I can still remember 27 years ago Mr. Burkett telling us that the economy would crash if people didn't get out of debt and "Washington" needed to quit borrowing monies. And what happened? Amazing, isn't it? He was right. If you find yourself in this situation and you can't see the "forest for the trees", get some good counsel and get out of debt. Now! It may take you a few years to do this, but the rewards are great. It is a great feeling to be debt free in our family and ministry. We still owe on our house, but our goal is to pay it off as quickly as possibly. We may have to tell our children they can't have this or that, but you know what? It won't kill them. And they may even be better off for it.
We, ourselves, have been blessed by others that have given to us freely. We have had great needs from time to time. I was very sick several years ago. People gave to help us in that time of need. Also, we needed a trailer this past year and several churches and individuals gave toward this need. Some gave toward a camera for our ministry. If God had not provided, we would have done without; and that's just fine. We will never be rich, by any stretch of anyone's imagination, but the Lord wants all of us to be frugal with what He has given to us. He also wants us to live like the ant and store up for the future. If you lost your job or couldn't get food at the store for some reason, do you have extra monies or food put away for safe keeping?
Lets make this year a year of commitment:
1. Give to the Lord even if you don't think you have money to give.
2. Get out of debt. (Set up a budget and start with the smallest debt and get it payed first)
3. Have an emergency fund set aside.
4. Give to others when you see a need.
5. Save for the future.
6. Pay off your house.
Pray for wisdom and the Lord will give it to you. Pray that the Lord will give you contentment and joy in doing this for Him. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me". Phil. 4:13