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Part 1
"Gifts and Giving"

In the biography of George Muller there are some very fascinating parts that make up the whole of this apostle of faith. One such part is his philosophy applying to the subject of gifts and giving. Here is a man who built, established and ran five major orphanage houses totally on faith and prayer, relying on the gifts and giving of others as they were moved by God to give gifts to this great work the Lord started and performed through him. Proportional to his income, he was one of the chief givers to this work the Lord started through him. He never asked one single person for donations or financial support for this work of the Lord. He relied solely on secret prayer and petitions to God for the resources, financial and otherwise, to both build and run these five orphan houses as well as a major evangelical organization called The Scriptural Knowledge Institution. His philosophy is both refreshing and scary, depending on how much faith in the Lord you have and how much faith you have in His promises for provision. The book these excerpts are taken from is George Muller, MAN OF FAITH AND MIRACLES by Basil Miller. It is available online at: http://www.amazon.com or http://www.Christianbooks.com .

Today we find that so many people are being turned off to so called Christian churches and evangelical speakers who have their hands out to the general public for money, and even beg their congregations for money on a constant basis. This is an insult to the Eternal God, who is far from being broke. One of Mr. Muller's favorite Scriptures was "the silver and gold are mine." To quote Mr. Miller's book, he says on page 105, paragraph 2, "The Institution was started solely with God as its Patron and never once did it veer from this original plan. Muller felt that God meant what he said when affirming "the silver and gold are mine." If the work was centered in the divine will, there would be plenty of God's silver and gold to promote its Christian interests." Thus we see (and you will see if you read Mr. Miller's book about Mr. Muller) that finances are no problem for a work centered in the divine will. Now let's learn something of Mr. Muller's philosophy about gifts and giving.

"The SUM total of Mr. Muller's life was giving. He gave himself in prayer that in return God might give the necessary supplies, not only for his own family, but also for the large family of orphans. Basing his life upon receiving from God, in return he practiced the art of liberality. Since God gave to him through faith he must also be among those who were faithful givers.

Even the texts that influenced him most were those on giving and receiving. Throughout his "Narrative" you will find these passages boldly across the pages. Early he and his wife were led to that scripture "Sell that ye have and give alms." (Luke 12:33). This was to be the course of their lives. They were to be sellers and givers.

The Lord, speaking through His Word, said, "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do..." (John 14:13). And Mr. Muller based his work upon this promise, asking largely that the Father might be glorified.

Since God had told him to open his mouth Mr. Muller never feared to ask for whatever his work must have. To him this promise was the foundation of all spiritual and temporal success. Like a bird, he opened his mouth and the Lord filled it with the supply of all financial needs.

In Genesis he loved the name Jehovah Jirah, for it meant the Lord will provide (Genesis 22:14). Grandly did God give provisions for the Institution and his Orphan Houses.

From the first records of Mr. Muller's donations, we find him giving on a large scale. During the first year of his life of trust (1831) he received L151 in answer to prayer; but he gave L50 of that sum. [A British pound of that time was worth $5.00] During the second year he gave L70 out of an income of L195. His income for 1833 was L267 brought in through faith, and his gifts amounted to L110.

This giving and receiving kept pace with each other during the long years of his career. For the ten years from 1836 to 1845 his income from all sources was approximately L3,400 and through faith he placed back into the Lord's work about L1,280...

From 1856 to 1865 his income amounted to L10,670, over $50,000...and out of this he devoted L8,250, or a total sum of 41,250, to God's work. Out of L20,500, received from 1866 to 1875, he turned back to Christian endeavors, nearly an average of L1,800 a year [L2,500 a year - L1,800 = L700]. During the next ten years, the last of which a direct record is available, he gave away L22,330 from an income of L26,000, which left him the sum of L3,670 to live on for a period of ten years, or a little over $1,800 a year. And it must be remembered that this decade--`1876 to 1885--was devoted to extensive missionary travels, which constituted a heavy drain on his personal finances.

These donations came to him through faith alone, and he recognized that he must be the channel through which God's gifts should flow out to others in need. He looked upon himself as the Lord's steward. What money he received he believed should be given rather than hoarded.

A crippled woman, who through the years was a constant though small giver to the orphanage work, expressed Mr. Muller's philosophy of living and giving. She began giving a penny a week out of her earnings toward the care of the orphans, and the Lord blessed her so much that she was able to raise her weekly gift to six shillings, or a dollar and a half. One gift she wrapped in a piece of paper, on which she had written: "Give; give--be ever giving. If you are living, you will be giving. Those who are not giving are not living."

The total amount Mr. Muller gave away out of his private funds amounted to approximately $180,000 from the year 1831 to November, 1877. This it must be recalled came out of a poor man's penury. He had only what he prayed in from day to day.

The Fifty-ninth Report of the Institution, issued May 26, 1898, immediately after Mr. Muller's death, reveals a very interesting item concerning this servant's method of giving. Year by year in the annual Reports there were frequent entries of gifts "from a servant of the Lord Jesus, who, constrained by the love of Christ, seeks to lay up treasure in heaven."

Mr. Wright, who succeeded Mr. Muller as head of the Institution, checked those entries, and found that this servant had given up to March 1, 1898, the aggregate sum of eighty-one thousand four hundred and ninety pounds, eighteen shillings and eightpence.

That servant was none other than Mr. Muller himself, who gave out of his own money more than sixty-four thousand five hundred pounds to the Scriptural Knowledge Institution alone, and to other individuals and organizations seventeen thousand more. It seems inconceivable that a poor man should thus give more than $407,450 to the work of God.

There is no other case on record of such magnificent gifts coming from a humbled servant of the Lord. It is estimated that John Wesley gave away nearly $150,000 to spread the cause of Christianity. When Wesley died he left behind him a well worn frock coat, two silver teaspoons--and the Methodist Church.

When Mr. Muller died his entire personal estate amounted to L169 9s. 4d., approximately $850, or which his household effects, books, furniture, etc., amounted to well over $500. The only money in his possession was actually $350. He died a poor man, though the Lord had entrusted to his hands well over a half-million dollars.

George Muller looked upon himself as God's steward. One of the texts which influenced him was, "Give and it shall be given unto you. Good measure pressed down, shaken together and running over shall men give unto your bossom."

He believed and saw this promise bountifully verified. "I had given," he testified, "and God caused to be given to me again bountifully."

He affirms that he believed what he read in the Bible, and acted accordingly. Though acting on God's promises, and rejecting the offer of a stated salary of L55 a year, God literally gave him a fortune...a fortune which he shared with those in need.

Out of this overflow of experience in giving, Mr. Muller had very definite thoughts on giving. Giving to him was the heart of the Christian life...give self in full surrender to God, and out of what God gives return to Him liberal gifts. This was his giving philosophy. Let us read and heed some of his advice on this subject.

"Many of the children of God,' he affirms, "lose in a great measure the privilege, and also the blessing to their own souls, of communicating to the Lord's work to the necessities of the poor, for want of a regular habit of giving."

When asked, "How shall I give?" Mr. Muller responded:

  1. Seek to keep before you that the Lord Jesus Christ has redeemed us, and that...we are not our own, because we are bought with a price....All then that we have belongs to Him, and we have to look on our possessions as a faithful steward....
  2. The habitual using of our means, the regularly communicating as the Lord prospers us, is next to be attended to. As far as practicable, we should seek to do this weekly, according to the word--'Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store as God hath prospered him' (I Cor. 16:2)...
  3. Every one should do so....
  4. With regard to the amount to be given, no rule can be laid down, because what we ought to do should not be done in a legal spirit, but from love and gratitude to the Blessed One Who died for us."

On the score of the method of giving, Mr. Muller was often asked, "How shall I put aside my gifts? Must I actually separate this money from my other money?"

"That is the simplest," he answered, "and in many respects the best way....A memorandum book may be kept, in which on one side is entered what is put aside for the Lord, to be expended on the poor, or for other benevolent and religious purposes, and on the other side may be put down what has been expended, and from time to time a balance may be struck. The amount thus put aside for the Lord is of course faithfully to be used for Him, else it would be mocking God; and therefore, instead of obtaining a blessing, it would rather be a curse."

"Am I to give with the idea of being repaid by the Lord?" a friend asked this man of prayer.

"Though we should never give," he responded, "for the sake of being repaid by the Lord, still, this will be the case, if we give from the right motives. It is God's own declaration that it will be so. This is plainly to be gathered from the following passages...'Give, and it shall be given unto you.'...'He that hath pity on the poor, lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will He pay him again.'"...

From his own experience and through the many letters he received he was well able to give testimony as to the blessing which comes from systematic giving.

"I enclose a Post Office Order for L5," writes an Irish manufacturer, "which by the blessing of Almighty God, I am enabled to send you this year. You will no doubt remember that the first sum I sent to you was 5s., I think now four years ago; and, indeed at that time it was a large sum for me to send....

"For some years previous to the time I sent you the first amount I was at times much perplexed over the subject of giving; and the end of my reasoning was always that a person so straitened in circumstances as I was then, was not called upon to give. I kept this opinion until one of your Reports fell into my hands, and from the accounts contained therein, was encouraged to send you the first amount of 5s. Soon after I thought my circumstances got somewhat easier....I have proved that just as I give the Lord gives in return....I sometimes withheld when I ought not, and just as I withheld, the Lord in His infinite mercy withheld also....But above all, I have to thank God that my spiritual condition is much improved since I began to give."

"Since I began to devote a regular proportion of my earnings to the cause of God," wrote a donor from Orkney, whose gift amounted to $15, "He has, I rejoice to say, greatly increased both my ability and desire to do so."

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