Today, 127 years ago: Fearless Generosity

“C.T. Studd” is not a brand of smokeless tobacco, but a British cricket star from the 1800’s.  In 1878 a preacher visiting in his home led the 18 year-old athlete to faith in Christ.  Subsequent years were unimpressive.  A spiritual apathy left him unconcerned about those apart from Christ.  His love for Christ cooled while his love for the world warmed.

6 years later he was convicted and affected by D.L. Moody’s preaching.  Renewing his commitment to Christ he began leading others to faith.  He admitted, “I cannot tell you what joy it gave me to bring the first soul to the Lord Jesus Christ. I have tasted almost all the pleasures that this world can give … but those pleasures were as nothing compared to the joy that the saving of that one soul gave me.”

God sent him to China to serve with mission pioneer J. Hudson Taylor.  While there he turned 25 at which age his father’s will stipulated that his son would receive his sizable inheritance.  After much prayer and studying Scripture, Studd became convinced he should give all the money away and trust God to provide.  “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him,” he insisted.  So January 13, 1887–before knowing just how much money he would receive, he wrote large checks to ministries like Mr. Moody’s evangelistic work and George Mueller’s orphan work.  Upon learning just how much he had coming to him, he wrote other checks, keeping only the 3400 pounds he planned to give his fiance Priscilla as a wedding gift.

To which she responded, “Charlie, what did the Lord tell the rich young man to do?”

“Sell all.”

“Well then, we will start clear with the Lord at our wedding.”  They gave that remaining amount away to the Lord’s work too.  Uhh, nope, don’t think I’d have done that!  But how glorious the faith in–and passion for–Christ that was behind it.  We could do worse that emulate such people.

Last week Betty and I first met with Keystone’s young adult group.  We’re teaching for 8 weeks on a “Lifelong Mission Passion” and the first two weeks we’re talking about some key obstacles to such a passion.  Guess what the first one was?  Worldly desires: including wealth, entertainment, and pleasure (watched this David Platt sermon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1GCrLNCk9s).  Generosity is a great way to loosen the stranglehold that money and what it can buy can have on well-meaning Christians.

I my January 5 sermon on “Fearless Generosity”, I urged us all to give away just a little bit more money in 2014.  I suggested that believers who are generous with their money and wealth have an underlying trust in God to meet their own needs–rather than live in worry and fear that they’ll run short.  Their generosity comes from a love for people rooted in an even more enduring love for God and His glory.  C.T. Studd once wrote, “Funds are low again, hallelujah! That means God trusts us and is willing to leave His reputation in our hands!”