MORE BLESSED TO GIVE …

-Dr. E. Stanley Jones on Biblical Financial Stewardship

-a paper presented by Ed Hird+ to the International Christian Ashram Board in Kentucky

Worry, fear, and anger are the greatest disease-causers.(1)  They can literally eat us alive, from the inside out.  The root of most anger is fear.  Many men feel safer and more powerful being angry than in facing their fears.  Dr. E. Stanley Jones spoke of the law of self-abandonment by which we are able to say: ‘I do not want anything, therefore I am afraid of nothing.’ (2)  Similarly he said that ‘there are two ways to be rich – one in the abundance of your possessions and the other in the fewness of your wants.’(3)

More Blessed
ES Jones spoke of ‘the two greatest problems of life, namely, money and women’ (i.e. male-female relationships).(4)  Counselors tell us that the three greatest causes of marriage breakup are sex, money, and in-laws!  Jones believed that ‘our greatest sins are economic sins, sins so hidden under respectability and under custom that we are scarcely aware of them.’(5) Quoting the counselor Dr. Alfred Adler, Jones commented: "All the ills of personality can be traced back to the fact that people do not understand the meaning of the phrase: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’.(6)

Mammon Driving the Driven
"People", said ES Jones, "retire to enjoy their wealth.  Nothing is more elusive and fatuous.  You cannot enjoy your wealth.  Your wealth must be creative in creating and in augmenting the joy of others, or else it is ill-th, not weal-th." (7)  Mammon drives the driven and lashes the tired.  At age sixty-five there are twice as many women alive as men.  The medical verdict is ‘high blood pressure’, but E. Stanley Jones saw it as ‘high blood-money pressure’ which drives men mad or to the mortuary.(8)   For Jones, financial stewardship was an issue of true life vs. mere existence. "Our money in itself is existence and perishes with all existing things, but our money in Him becomes life.  It is alive and it creates life, opens opportunity for others, creates new hopes and new lives."(9)

Biblical Investing
Jones taught us to view biblical stewardship as an act of investment.(10)  "We have one great thing to invest: our lives"(11)  Jesus asks for the only possession we have- ourselves.(12)"  Again and again ES Jones taught on the priority of self-surrender, for he knew that ‘the last thing that we give up is ourselves.’(13)  Surrender is the heart of true biblical stewardship for ‘we do not give until we give up.’(14)  Jones humorously commented that some people suffer from a spiritual headache because unsurrendered wealth is pressing on the nerve that leads to the pocketbook.(15)  Full surrender, said Jones, meant full supply of  the resources of Christ.(16)

The Pause that Refreshes
E. Stanley Jones tells the remarkable story of Asa G. Candler.  Candler kept struggling unsuccessfully with his addiction to alcohol until he heard a Voice tell him to surrender himself.  From that hour, he was delivered not only from the desire to drink, but also from the love of money.  Asa Candler, who founded the Coca Cola company, was so grateful to God that he consistently gave seventy-five percent of his vast income to God’s work.  Candler believed that ‘the central thing in Christianity is the final and total yielding of the self, its renunciation and rejection and the entire surrender of the life to the will and way of God.’(17)

The Unbreakable Bank
There is only one place, said ES Jones, where you can invest life and money and not lose it – in people.  Here moth and rust do not consume, and thieves do not break through and steal.  Your investment is ‘safe’ and ‘sound’, and ‘fireproof’."(18)  Dr. Jones taught that "the time comes in every person’s life when he has to decide whether there shall be money-dominance or God-dominance in his life."(19)  To say ‘Jesus is Lord’ is a commitment to God-dominance in every area of our life, even in the financial arena.

Two Conversions
ES Jones believes that "the greatest single factor that keeps people from going on to perfection is the deceitfulness of riches, for no one ever feels that it is a danger to him."(20)  It has been said that we need two conversions: one of our heart and a second one of our wallet.  ES Jones told the story of a poverty-stricken boy named Colgate met a steamboat captain who encouraged him to give his heart to God and give one tenth of all he made to Him.  The boy promised both, and through his Colgate Toothpaste Company, ended up giving millions to Christian work.(21)

The First 10th
E.S. Jones encouraged all believers to ‘fix the habit of tithing your income’ because he believed that ‘the tithe belonged to the Lord’ and that ‘we only give as we give out of the nine-tenths.’(22)  Have we allowed the making of money to push out the love of God?  ES Jones recommends that ‘we put money in its place –subordinate to the will of God’.  He encourages us to ‘make a tithe a symbol of that subordination, and put God in His place, supreme, supreme over the nine-tenths.’(23)  Tithing is a symbol of God’s total ownership!(24)   Tithing our first 10%, said Jones, "isn’t really giving – it is paying rental to God for the use of his air, water, light, earth."(25)  I believed in tithing for years before I felt that I could afford it.  Only after I lost my voice, my job, and my salary for eighteen months in 1980 did I feel that it was time to trust God financially with my first 10%.  Miraculously God met all the needs of my family, and when God gave me my voice back through surgery and prayer on May 25th 1982, I continued tithing out of gratitude.

Generosity Unto Life
E. Stanley Jones  believed that generosity is at the heart of the Christian life.  Jones was convinced from both the bible and personal experience that abundant living depends upon abundant giving.(26)  Like many leaders, Jones knew that outflow determined inflow.  If we don’t breath out, we can’t breath in and we will literally smother.  Similarly, said Jones, if a cow is not milked, it will go dry.(27)   How many of us may have gone through times of spiritually dryness because our financial udder needed milking?

Stanley Jones believed that generosity is the homeland of one’s soul.(28)  The heart of generosity is found in the cross, which breaks our self-centeredness.  That is why he said that ‘self-giving, redeeming, sacrificial love is at the center of power in the universe.’(29)  To grow in generosity, we need to decide that we own nothing and that God alone is the owner.  This alone gives a sense of accountability to Another.(30)   Generosity releases life from one generation to another.  Agape, said Jones, is desire – a desire to give and keep on giving.(31)

Dedicated Creativity
Dr. Jones spoke about a road that perhaps more than any other leads to self-atrophy: the road of undedicated money.(32)  The solution was to make our riches the instruments of His purpose, to dedicate our wealth to the purpose of His Kingdom.(33)  Money consecrated to human need is money creative.(34)  "O God", prayed E. Stanley Jones, "help me to have no meaningless money – money without a meaningful purpose.  Put the soul of purpose in all I possess."(35)  In that way, our wealth, whether great or small, shall be big with the purposes of God within it.(36)  Jones told the true story about an Afro-American employee whose boss had just died.  The employee was asked "How much did he leave?" And the employee replied, "He left everything".(37)

Methodical Habits
Jones encouraged us to "let principles, fixed in habit, and not pressures, decide your giving and (to) fix those principled habits early before wealth accumulates."(38)  Many millionaires don’t give because they never laid the habit of giving.(39)   "If our faith cost us nothing", said Dr. Jones, "it contributes nothing".(40)   One of the things that I appreciate most about E Stanley Jones, is his teaching me how to methodically discipline my life in the areas of consistent prayer, giving, and service.  So much of our contemporary culture does whatever it feels like, whenever it feels like it.  The end is chaos and anarchy, rather than the freeing discipline of the Holy Spirit.

Lord of All
To say ‘Jesus is Lord! is to affirm Jesus as our true treasure.  ES Jones once prayed: "O Jesus Lord, where my treasure is, there is my heart also.  My treasure is in Thee. Thou art my treasure.  I have no treasure beyond Thee."(41)  In times of financial uncertainty, such as following the World Trade Center tragedy, God has given us an unshakable kingdom.  Jones affirmed: "My person and my purse shall have the motto: Seek first his kingdom"(42)   Thank God, in times like this, for Jesus the Unchangeable Person  and His Unshakable Kingdom!

Hilarious Giving
ES Jones wisely knew that ‘what we do with the material registers and decides the spiritual.’(43)  It has been said that one of the truest indications of what one really believes in is to read their monthly bank statement.  Where we spend our money, whether as an individual, family, congregation, or nation reveals our deepest values and priorities.  E. Stanley Jones wanted us to possess our possessions and not let our possessions possess us.(44)  Time and again, ES Jones used vivid illustrations that stick in people’s minds and hearts.  He once said that ‘wealth is like manure: put in one pile it is a stinking mass, but distributed across the fields it produces golden grain.’(45)  Jones, who understood holy laughter years before it became popular, took seriously the biblical call in 2 Corinthians 9:7 to be a ‘hilarious giver’.(46)  E. Stanley Jones knew that it is wrong to give out of fear, guilt, or pressure.  Only joyful gratitude to our generous self-giving Lord Jesus will release God’s unshakable kingdom in our lives, our families, and our nations.

Footnotes:

(1) E. Stanley Jones, Christian Maturity, 1957, Abingdon Press, Nashville, p. 323
(2) Jones, Christ at the Round Table, 1928, Hodder & Stoughton, London, p. 319
(3) Jones, In Christ, Abingdon Press, Nashville, p. 77
(4) Jones, The Christ of the Mount, 1930, Abingdon, Nashville, p. 157.
(5) Jones, The Way, 1946, Abingdon Press, Nashville , p. 222
(6) Jones, Christian Maturity, op.cit., p. 254, p. 339
(7) Jones, op. cit. , p. 39
(8) Jones, How to Be a Transformed Person, Abingdon, Nashville, p. 283
(9) Jones, Christian Maturity, op. cit., p. 55
(10) Jones, op. cit., p. 287; In Christ, p.172 "When I invest in people, I invest in an everlasting investment"
(11) Jones, Christ of the Mount, op. cit., p. 225
(12) Ibid., p. 56; Christian Maturity, p. 68 ‘The Self is the one and only thing that we own’.
(13) Ibid., p. 65
(14) Jones, Christian Maturity, op. cit., p. 272
(15) Ibid., p. 336
(16) Jones, In Christ, Abingdon Press, Nashville
(17) Jones, Christ of the Mount, op. cit., p. 53-54
(18) Ibid., p. 227; The Way, p. 174 ‘The only permanent investment is an investment in people’; Christian Maturity, p. 336 ‘Invest in people for the bank of human character is the only bank that will never break’;
(19) Jones, Christ of the Mount., p. 229
(20) Ibid., p. 230
(21) Jones, Conversion, 1959, Abingdon Press, Nashville, p. 118
(22) Jones, op. cit., p.215-216; Growing Spiritually, p. 181
(23) Ibid., p. 206
(24) Jones, The Way, 1946, Abingdon Press, Nashville, p. 175
(25) Jones, Christian Maturity, op. cit., p. 333; How to Be a Transformed Person, op. cit., p. 282
(26) Jones, Abundant Living, Abingdon Press, Nashville, p. 218
(27) Jones, op. cit., p. 219
(28) Jones, op. cit., p. 180;  Jones, Mastery, Abingdon Press, Nashville p. 137 ‘Greatness was now in greatly giving – and only in greatly giving.’
(29) Jones, A Song of Ascents, Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1968, p. 139
(30) Jones, Growing Spiritually, op. cit., p. 180
(31) Jones, Christian Maturity, op. cit., p. 150; Abundant Living, p.180, ‘…this is love’s prerogative: to give and give and give.’
(32) Jones, The Way, p. 173
(33) Jones, op. cit., p. 175
(34) Jones, Christian Maturity, op. cit., p. 269
(35) Ibid., p. 335
(36) Ibid., p. 336
(37) Ibid., p. 49
(38) Ibid., p. 335
(39) Ibid., p. 335
(40) Jones, The Way, op. cit., p. 328
(41) Jones, Christian Maturity, op. cit., p. 275
(42) Ibid., p. 335
(43) Ibid., p. 332
(44) Ibid., p. 332
(45) Ibid., p. 332
(46) Jones, How to be a Transformed Person, op. cit., p. 28

Ed Hird  St. Simon’s North Vancouver ed_hird@telus.net

          The Reverend Ed Hird
          Rector, St. Simon’s Anglican Church, North Vancouver
          Missioner, ARM Canada

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