“One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.” — Proverbs 11:24 (ESV)
I love the book of Proverbs. It’s blunt, straight to the point. There’s no beating around the bush. This Proverb really hits the truth on the head. In a way, it seems to sum up our culture: Take care of what’s yours; hold on to what you have and don’t let go.
We rarely look for ways to lend a helping hand or go out of our way to find others we can give to. It pains me to think about how many churchgoing Christians believe in the Lord but do not give back to Him through tithing. At the end of the day, what is it we’re holding onto? Our earthly inheritance or eternal investments?
In college, when my wife and I first got married and placed our trust in the Lord, we decided to faithfully tithe at least 10 percent of our income to the Lord. When we were only making $400-$600 a month and tithing $60 at a time, we were thinking, “Man, this is crazy! Why are we giving all this money away?” But we trusted and obeyed God, and He’s been faithful tenfold. Luke 16:10 says, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much” (NIV). God worked in our hearts in an amazing way and prepared us for how we are to give now. Since then, God’s provisions have come to fruition for us like we’d never believe.
Giving didn’t become easier when our salaries increased. In fact, it became harder. A career in the NFL brought with it countless expectations and requests from every direction. While this can be a burden, it can also be a great opportunity. When we were at ground zero in college, scraping the bottom of the barrel, we established a firm foundation in Christ. It seemed hard to give 10 percent when we were making close to nothing but we realized it was even harder to give as that number grew.
Yet since the day we made that commitment, it hasn’t mattered how much we make, we’re sticking to giving 10-plus-percent back to God. While that hasn’t always been easy or comfortable, we’re faithful to what God’s calling us to do. God doesn’t require from us a certain number or income in order to honor Him; He wants our hearts. Hearts that are obedient and trusting in Him.
We all tend to want to hold onto our money. We want it to stack up so we can buy things to enjoy, only to find ourselves soon tiring of or getting rid of them. This is the never-ending cycle that Proverbs 11:24 is talking about — one I think is a struggle for all of us. I know it is for me.
Just recently I went into my closet and realized how many pairs of shoes and articles of clothing I have that I really don’t need. Each item I bought I thought was a good idea at the time. I thought they would bring me joy. Even my shoe collection — most of which I didn’t pay for but received through my sponsor deal with Nike — is out of control. There’s no need for that many shoes! They don’t bring me peace, joy or happiness, and at the end of the day I’ll just keep wanting more and more. It was eye-opening for me to look back at all the stuff I’ve been given and see it as an endless pit.
God’s entrusted each of us with resources and gifts to give back to Him. When I hold my money loosely and give back to God through tithing to the Church, donating and raising money for ministries, and helping to fight sex trafficking, I gain satisfaction in God’s Kingdom work. Going to the Dominican Republic with International Justice Mission to see how women and children are being rescued from the trafficking industry, and knowing I’m able to join the fight both financially and physically, brings me so much joy. I see how hundreds of kids’ lives are being affected daily by this injustice and how we are able to help. These are things that are lasting. I will always remember seeing the faces of the children and hearing stories from the survivors. This is so much more important than buying the stuff I think I want or need but really don’t.
As Paul says in Philippians, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13, NIV).
– Trey Burton
Trey Burton is a tight end for the Philadelphia Eagles and a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.
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