But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you see that you also excel in this grace of giving. 2 Corinthians 8:7
A “once upon a time” story is told of a circus strongman who displayed remarkable feats of physical strength. He became renowned in towns and cities across the land for his ability to bend bars of iron and smash huge blocks of ice, but above all else he was famous for his ability to squeeze an orange completely dry. For this reason he became known as “Big O.” Everyone had heard of “Big O” and at the end of his show he always challenged the people in the audience to see if someone could come and squeeze another drop of juice out of the crushed fruit. Over the years many strong men had given it a try but no one had ever been successful in getting one more drop out of the orange that “Big O” had squeezed.
One day, a diminutive little man volunteered to give it a try. The spectators roared with laughter as the puny man made his way to the centre of the ring in order to take up the challenge. Undaunted by the catcalls and jibes from the people the little man took what appeared to be nothing more than a shrivelled piece of rind and slowly and firmly compressed his right hand. Every eye was riveted on him as he squeezed. A couple of seconds elapsed and then to everyone’s amazement a drop of orange juice formed and dropped to the floor. There was a stunned silence and “Big O’s” jaw dropped open in amazement. But the little man wasn’t finished, before anyone could recover from the shock of it all a second drop of juice plopped onto the floor. Cheers erupted around the tent and willing spectators rushed into the ring and hoisted the little man up onto their shoulders. When the applause subsided, the ringmaster beckoned the little man over to the microphone and asked him to tell the people how he had developed such power. “Nothing to it,” replied the man. Then with a wry grin he added, “It just so happens that I’m the treasurer at the local Baptist Church!”
It’s a good joke. We identify with it if we’ve endured arm twisting and browbeating appeals for money. But the church should never have to get to the point where it’s having to squeeze money out of us. The money should be brought into “the storehouse” (cf. Malachi 3:10) as an act of loving obedience. If each of us excelled at “the grace of giving” (2 Corinthians 8:7) there would be more than enough to support the Lord’s work. So don’t hold back. Outshine, outstrip and surpass yourself in your giving. Give in proportion to how the Lord has blessed you. And as you do; give systematically, sacrificially, proportionately, voluntarily, privately, personally and ungrudgingly.
Use your money while you’re living;
Do not hoard it to be proud.
For you cannot take it with you;
There’s no pocket in a shroud.
Gold can carry you no further;
Than the graveyard where you lie.
You may be rich while you are living;
But you’re a pauper when you die!