Putting God in Debt

Putting God in Debt

One of the defining moments of my life came when I was seventeen.  It was going to be our last Christmas in Guatemala and I was getting all nostalgic.  I wanted the family at home around the tree.

Instead, my dad arranged for us to go hand out Christmas gifts to a bunch of poor kids.

I was livid.  “You are ruining my Christmas dad!”

My dad doesn’t get mad often, but I’ll never forget the fire in his eyes when he turned to me and quoted Proverbs 19:17, “Joel, when you give to the poor you lend to the Lord.”

Conviction ripped through my hard teenage heart.

I grew up around poverty.  And I mean serious poverty – not people being forced to live in their cars.  These people lived in the garbage dump.  No welfare or WIC – they were destitute.  I had gotten numb to it.

That little wake-up call reminded me that generosity has an eternal purpose.  When we give we are actually giving to God himself.  Sure you should use discernment and you don’t want to enable irresponsible behavior, but if you are giving as unto God then you’ve done it with the right heart and that’s all that matters.

The rest of Proverbs 19:17 says that when we give to the poor God will repay the debt.  I like the sound of that because God always pays back with exorbitant interest.  He won’t have anyone thinking they can hang something over his head, so he pays back big dividends when we give with the right heart.