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Home > Research Library > The Biblical Case for Giving > Theological Topics > God’s Ownership and Man’s Stewardship

A Call to Action

By Todd Harper

Todd Harper is a vice president of Generous Giving and a former Campus Crusade for Christ fund raiser. He delivered these closing remarks at the annual Generous Giving Conference, Orlando, Fla., February 19-21, 2004.

I have the greatest job in the world. As an executive with Generous Giving, I get to spend time with Christian givers like Stanley Tam, Paul Johnson, Bruce and Sue Osterink and Suzanne Taylor. I get to see their lives. The Apostle Paul spoke of people like these when he wrote to Timothy:
    Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
I can tell you that I have observed their lives, and these are the kind of lives that so many Christians want to live. We want to experience that joy. We want to step out in faith and see God show up in our lives in powerful ways. There is a red thread woven through every single one of their stewardship stories: It is a challenge to listen to God and obey; even so, trust and obey, for there is no other way.

For Paul Johnson, this meant that God was calling him to not work nights or weekends. He heard God call him to do that. What happened? Twelve hours later he received a call to build the biggest house he had ever built. What did he do? He obeyed God and never built another house. Yet God blessed him with bigger and better things because he was faithful.

Bruce and Sue Osterink also heard God’s call. They said, “God, are you asking us to sell our dream home that we built and dreamed of our whole lives? If that is what You are saying, we are willing to step out and take that step of faith even though we are not sure.” What happened? Within 30 days, the home was sold. They did not act out of obligation. They didn't do it under compulsion. Rather, there was joy in their obedience. The Osterinks’ story was both challenging and encouraging to me because I myself have fears of what God is going to call me to do. I can’t imagine moving into the inner city with my family or after my kids are grown. But when I heard their story, I realized that we cannot lose when we listen to God’s voice and when we obey Him.

To Suzanne Taylor, God said, “Not only do I want you to start tithing, but I also want you to begin with 10 percent of your net worth.” That was scary. It will always be scary. Still, we must ask what God is calling us to.

Stanley Tam is 87 years old, and when he retired at age 83, he turned his business over to his son-in-law. They will give over $3 million this year out of the business. When I went to visit him, he took me back to the little air-conditioned corner of his office and began to tell me his story. In 1952, Stanley heard God’s voice, and when he heard it, he and his wife, Juanita, together obeyed, no matter what it cost and no matter how scary it was. He gave God 49 percent of his income because God called him to give. After hearing this, I asked him what his salary was since he didn’t make any profits out of his business. He replied, “I paid myself well. In 1972 I was making $72,000 a year, and I decided that I never needed to make any more than that, so I never took another raise.” There was no sense of what he had given up. There was only a sense of joy.

All these stories tell of incredible adventures with God. Are you looking to live an adventure with the God of the universe who wants to show up in your life in powerful ways every day? Then do three things: Ask, listen and obey. I encourage you to carve out some time to ask God what He wants to say to you, and I encourage you to be willing to listen to whatever it is and to be willing to obey. As the old song says, “Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey.”

In fact, I “double-dog dare” you to take this challenge. God will show up powerfully in each of your lives.

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