How God Taught Me To Give
By Oswald J. Smith
Let me tell you how God taught me to give. It was a lesson that has remained with me to this day.
I had been 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 commenced my pastorate on the first Sunday of January, at a time when they were holding their Annual Missionary Convention. I knew nothing about a missionary convention. I had never been in one in all my life. I didn’t know the first thing to do, so I just sat 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. I can still remember that moment as though it were yesterday.
As I held it I read it: "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. I did not know that morning how God was going to deal with me and teach me a lesson that I was never to forget, and that I was to teach to scores of other churches all over the country in the years to come.
I started to pray. I said, "Lord God, I can’t do anything. You know I have nothing in my pocket. This church only pays me $25.00 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 $25.00 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." 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 you for a Faith Offering. How much can you trust Me for?"
"Oh, Lord," I exclaimed, "that’s different. How much can I trust Thee for?"
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 $5.00 or perhaps even $10.00. Once in my life I had given $5.00 for missions, and once I had given $3.00, but never more. I almost trembled as I waited for the answer.
Presently it came. 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.
"Fifty dollars!" I exclaimed. "Why, Lord, that’s two weeks’ salary. How can I get $50.00?"
But again the Lord spoke, and it was still the same amount. It was just as clear to me as though He had spoken in an audible voice.
How I ever paid it I don’t know to this day. All I know is that every month I had to pray for $4.00, and every month God sent it in some miraculous way. At the end of the year I had paid the entire amount — $50.00.
But this is what I want to make clear. I received such a blessing. There came to my heart such a fullness of the Spirit – it was such a thrill, that as I paid the final amount, I realized that it had been one of the greatest experiences of my life.
So great was the spiritual blessing that had come to me because I had given a Faith Offering, I had trusted God for a certain amount, I had given in a scriptural way – that the next year at the Convention, I doubled the amount and gave $100.00. And from that day to this I have been sending on thousands upon thousands of dollars to the Bank of Heaven. If I had waited until I had it, I never would have given it because I never would have had it. But I gave it when I didn’t have it. I gave a Faith Offering and God honored it.