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Be generous even if you can’t afford it.

Be generous even if you can’t afford it.

DECEMBER 14, 2023

/ Programs / Key Life / Be generous even if you can’t afford it.

Steve Brown:
Be generous, even if you can’t afford it. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.

Matthew Porter:
It’s for freedom that Christ set us free, and Key Life is here to bring you Biblical teaching that encourages you to never give in to slavery again. Our teacher on Key Life is Steve Brown. He’s an author, broadcaster, and seminary professor who’s sick of phony religion.

Steve Brown:
Thank you Matthew. If you were listening yesterday, we were talking about money and how people that have money are miserable according to Fred Smith. By the way, there are people who think that I made up Fred Smith. He’s in heaven now, and they say that I made him up so that I could say these really weird and wise things. No, I didn’t. Fred Smith was my friend for 30 or 40 years, and my mentor for all of those years, and the wisest man I’ve ever known. Let me give you a website if you want to check it out. It’s called but he said they’re miserable because they got what they want and realized they didn’t want it. And what they got didn’t deliver on the promise that it made. And so, yesterday we were talking about that sort of thing, and I read a number of verses from Proverbs dealing with money and prosperity and generosity, Proverbs 28:11.

The rich man is wise in his own eyes, but the poor, whose understanding searches him out.

But there were, in those verses some clear teaching, Proverbs 3:9 through 10, Proverbs 11:24 through 26, that say it’s best to have a generous heart.

Honor the Lord with your possessions. There is one who scatters and yet increases more. And there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty.

In other words, you can be blessed, it’s a principle, not a promise by being generous. But the Book of Proverbs does say be generous anyway, even when you can’t afford it. I don’t know if a clear case could be made for tithing in the Scripture. It is mostly in terms of the 10%, an Older Testament teaching, but it’s valid. My friend Tony Campolo said most of that money was spent on a party. So, be careful when you start making people feel guilty about it. But it’s a good principle and a helpful principle to give 10 percent of what you earn to the Lord’s work, to people who are in need, to the places where it will do the most good. I had a listener call me or send me an e-mail just this morning. And you know what he said? I had been talking about a man who was going through a tough time and using it as an illustration. And my friend who lives in California, he’s fairly affluent and he’s been wise with his funds. And he wrote me an e-mail and said, Steve, if you’ll give me the name of that man, I’ll send him some money. I’ve been blessed recently with some extra, and I’d like to help him out. And I thought, that is so good. And that’s so Proverbs 11:24 through 26. But you have to be careful here. People give those testimonies about tithing. And I have one too. When my wife and I were young and we were, didn’t have two pennies to rub together. When we struggled to pay our bills. I was in graduate school in Boston and she was working and then the children came along. And I had to work and go to graduate school. And boy, those were hard times. And I wasn’t, well, I probably was saved, but I wasn’t a red hot Christian. And I didn’t know what the Bible taught about a lot of things. And I came across this thing about tithing. And I really felt that God was telling us to tithe. But before I came to that conclusion, I said, you don’t mean this, do you, God? Do you know how much 10% of how little I make would, would take food out of our mouths. Do you understand? Then I just kept feeling that God was calling us to do it. And you say, well, that’s good. You gave 10 percent and then he made you rich. No, we didn’t give 10 percent and God didn’t make us rich, but let me tell you what happened. We started with 2 percent and the next year we added a percentage, and then we added another percentage until we got up to 10 percent and we’re giving far more than 10 percent of our income now. But that’s 100 years later. I have another friend who said that’s not the way you teach God’s Word. Not saying if you’re stealing, you ought to cut back a little bit at a time. Or if you’re committing adultery, you ought to cut back a little bit at a time. I said, I know, I know, but he knoweth my frame. He remembereth that I’m dust. And he honored that. And let me tell you, we’ve never been rich, but the bills have always been paid, and that’s a fact. My mother tithes, in fact, she’s in heaven now and she wouldn’t mind me telling you that, but there were times when she paid the taxes with the check, she didn’t sign, knowing that by the time the IRS got the check, found that she hadn’t signed it, and sent it back, she would have enough money to pay the taxes. But she never did that with the tithe. I was a paper boy, and so was my brother, and we would do collections every Friday. And you know what happened as soon as we got home? My mother would take our money that we had collected that day, cut out ten percent, and put it in a cup in the cupboard that would go to the Lord’s work. And sometimes we didn’t have good things. We had to use clothes that were given to us. Christmas was not always a wonderful time. Now, I’m not complaining, we did fine. But we were never rich, and we had to struggle a lot. But after my father died, and I spent a lot of time with my mother. In fact, I would fly into North Carolina, into the mountains and spend time with her whenever I was speaking somewhere. And we would talk, and she would talk about her life. And she would say, you know, it was hard sometimes to tithe over all that time. But I never didn’t have enough to eat. We always paid the bills, and we were okay. And then my friend Fred Smith, and his mentor, he said to his mentor, he said, do you regret all that money that you gave because his mentor had gone bankrupt and then he laughed and said, no, I don’t. The only money I’ve got left is what I gave away. I’m telling you all of this because this is Proverbs. It’s not, it’s not a promise, but it is a principle. Be generous. Have an open hand. Even if you don’t have much, be generous with it, because that’s God’s way, that’s the way of God’s people. And I am being very careful here that don’t, after having taught you all that I just taught you about being generous, that I don’t add, would you send a generous contribution to Key Life. I’m not doing that, but I wouldn’t turn it down if you did. But going back to what the Book of Proverbs says, listen to this, and listen to it with your heart.

There is one who scatters,

That means one who is generous.

yet increases more. And there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty. The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself. The people will curse him who withholds grain, but blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.

So, good teaching and very wise teaching, very wise principles. Don’t believe that you’re going to be rich, that’s a principle, not a promise. Some of you will, and some of you won’t. Be careful that you understand the difference between a principle and a promise. But there is a promise built into this and throughout Scripture that God knows your needs, Jesus said.

Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

He said,

He feeds the birds.

And you’re worth a lot more than birds.

Consider the lilies of the field, they toil not.

And yet they are so very beautiful. God knows your needs before you speak them. Now, I’m not trying to make you feel guilty because that’s probably the worst reason to be generous. I’m just saying, remember what Proverbs teaches. Proverbs teaches clearly that if you have a God who’s been generous to you in a thousand ways, be sure and be generous with other people and you’ll be blessed. You think about that. Amen.

Matthew Porter:
Thank you Steve. And that wraps up another fantastic week of teaching from the Book of Proverbs. Remember, you can listen to and share any of these episodes any old time you want at and be sure to join us again tomorrow for the nearly world famous Friday Q&A. Say, are you an early Christmas decorator, like you had decked the halls with boughs of holly before Halloween, or do you look at those folks like they’re crazy? Well, however you prepare for Christmas, we want to offer you a new way. It’s a free booklet called Christmas Meditations, and it’s a collection of Steve’s writings on the real meaning of Christmas, the Incarnation of God in Christ. The booklet also includes Scripture and devotional questions to help you quietly focus and reflect on the impact of Christ’s coming. Get it now by calling us at 1-800-KEY-LIFE that’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] if you’d like to mail your request, go to to find our mailing addresses. Just ask for your free copy of the booklet called Christmas Meditations. And finally, if you value the work of Key Life. Would you support that work through your giving? You can charge a gift on your credit card or include a gift in your envelope. Or simply pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 that’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter, just text that to 28950, then follow the instructions. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.

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