Changing Four Letter Words to Three

I remember it like it was yesterday – a ministry moment of clarity that has been etched in my memory for more than 25 years. My pastor, Dr. Dennis Newkirk, had been travelling home from Arizona and arrived home around 2:00a.m. on Sunday morning.  As our staff was walking into a pre-worship staff meeting on that Sunday, he mentioned being tired.  I replied, “That’s right, you have to preach three times today.” As if on cue, he turned abruptly and retorted, “No. I get to preach today. I do not have to preach today.”  He smiled and entered the office for our brief meeting.

Why does this stand out in my mind?  I think it was the clarity with which he spoke and the instantaneous response to my statement. He did not need to think for a moment in his reply. It was a well-engrained attitude he had developed about the privilege of preaching the gospel of Jesus each week. It was also a profound moment of teaching for a young youth pastor to hear from his senior pastor. I have never forgotten that moment.  It was not a rebuke, nor a harsh reprimand.  It was a statement never to be confused in my mind again.

This powerful lesson was not lost on me.  I have repeated that statement more times than I can recall.

I believe this simple change from the four letter word HAVE to the three letter word GET can be applied in much of life. Have you considered it in your response to our high calling of financial stewardship? 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 records some of the most profound words in scripture that embody this idea of having to vs. getting to.

Remember this, the person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously, will also reap generously. Each person should do as he has decided in his heart – NOT out of regret or of necessity (HAVE TO), for God loves a cheerful giver (emphasis added).   -2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (HCSB)

Consider the attitude expressed by Paul to these Corinthian believers. He reminds them (and us) that the best and most generous gifts should proceed first from the heart, not out of a sense of guilt or obligation. The decision to give to the Lord through His church may be viewed by some as something they HAVE to do, as if it is a burden or an obligation.  Others, however, have grown in their giving to understand the secret of generosity is that it is indeed a privilege that is ours to partner with and to be used by God to give in ways that bless others and make a difference in their lives. These Corinthian believers were getting to share in the work of God as He used them to supply the needs of the body of believers in Jerusalem.

Consider how Paul illustrated the attitude of GETTING to GIVE as expressed by the Macedonian believers. In 2 Corinthians 8:4 he describes this group of believers as being generous beyond their ability to give. He wrote, “they begged us intensely for the privilege (GET to) of sharing in the ministry to the saints…” (emphasis added). Wow!  What a different attitude toward giving. Our giving begins with a right heart and a right attitude.

Prayer:  Lord, would you help me grow to have a Christ-like attitude in my generosity toward others through your church. Would you help me grow to be like the Macedonian believers who understood that we get to join you in your work through our giving of our touch, time, talent, testimony and treasures? Help me today to see what I get to do on Your behalf instead of approaching my day with what I have to do. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your Kingdom’s work here on earth.  – Amen