Sometimes I feel like our church walks a very fine line between preaching generosity and preaching prosperity gospel. The Bible verse referenced in my title is Luke 6:38: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” I’ve heard this verse used to tell people to give to God and see what He is capable of giving back. However, earlier in the chapter, there’s this remonstration:
24 “But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.
25 Woe to you who are well fed now,
for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will mourn and weep.
26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.”
I’m not about to preach a message about the prosperity gospel or lack thereof. I just wanted to preface this blog post with Jesus’ words on the subject, and then write our testimony.
Every year, our church has a weekend when our pastor talks about all the cool stuff we’ve been able to do over the past year thanks to people giving gifts over and above their tithe, and then casts the vision for the cool stuff the elders have felt led to pursue for the next year. Then as many people as want to pray and ask God what gift He would have them give over and above their tithe, and then write it on a card and turn it in. The leadership of the church pursues the new opportunities based on about 80% of the total committed. It’s a great way to ask people to give towards projects without having pledge drives or guilt-based funding.
This year, I prayed much, and heard from God. We were to give our house. Yes. The house we are living in. I personally have felt for several years that when we moved out of this house we were going to give it away. But to actually know that this was the year…wow. This was going to be a step of faith, especially considering that we’d just lost our business, and, while we both have some work, our income is half what it was last year. But even stranger, I wasn’t sure that we were supposed to give it to the church, necessarily.
We’ve always had a dream of moving to the country, to own 20 acres or so and make our home in the boonies. So it was weird that about a month before the vision weekend at church, I was praying while nursing Emily and asked God when we should move to the country. And to my surprise, the immediate answer was “go for it.”
We started looking. We found a gorgeous property with a decent house in just the right area for just the right price. It’s been on the market for over 6 months and hasn’t had much interest. We went out to see it and were impressed. We tried really hard not to fall in love right away, so we gave it a logical 9 out of 10 points.
On the way home, we were talking about various things. Andrew said something about how maybe now we could help his mom and dad and grandma have a place to live (long, looooong story there). I said, “How would us buying a new home help them have a home?” He blurted out, “Because maybe they could have our house.”
I sat in the car in stunned silence as the Holy Spirit sang His song of confirmation in my heart. Of course. The solution to a problem we’d all been struggling with lay in our obedience. I told Andrew, “I never, ever thought of that,” and he said, “me either, until the words were coming out of my mouth.” I told him that God had told me that our gift this year was our house, but I wasn’t sure how to give a house to a church. He said that he’d been praying about our gift too, and also telling God about how much he’d like a new house. This was during a sermon at church. And the preacher quoted Luke 6:38, with emphasis on the IT. Give, and IT will be given to you. What is IT? Whatever you give will be returned to you in vaster measure than you can handle. The preacher applied the concept to marriage; give your soul to your spouse and you’ll be rewarded with theirs in return. But the Holy Spirit told Andrew that the answer to his dilemma of a new house, of our dream property, lay in giving the one we already had.
One normally counts on the sale of one home to fund the purchase of the new one, so where on earth was the down payment going to come from? We had about 60% of what we would consider a decent down payment already saved, but saving the rest was going to be tough with our employment situation.
Today we received not one, but two pieces of shocking and big time financial blessing. One; our tax refund was totally enormous. Ridiculously so. Normally I’m firmly in the camp of don’t give it to the IRS; keep it! If we’d had the money in our paychecks last year, though, we would have put it all toward the current mortgage instead of getting a refund, putting cash in our account when we needed it. Two; our business, which we are closing down, has a bit of money that we knew we owed the government. But we found out that, in some strange twist of tax law, the business pays it to the IRS this year for the 2013 taxes, and when we file the final return after the business is completely insolvent, the IRS pays it back to us.
The amount we estimate we will get back is about what we would have sold our house for.
And it’s coming from the IRS.
This is such a God thing.