How God Taught Me to Give
by Oswald J. Smith
Let me tell you how God taught me to give. I will never forget it. It was a lesson that has remained with me to this day.
I had been a 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 began my pastorate on the first Sunday of January, at a time when the church was 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.
Lord God, I can’t do anything ... This church only
pays me $25 a week. I have a wife and child to
keep ... Everything is sky-high in price.
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 now 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 replied.
“I am asking for a faith offering. How much can you trust me for?”
“Oh, Lord,” I exclaimed, “that’s different. How much can I rust you for?”
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 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.
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