Making a Difference

I’ve just spent a weekend with a group of investors.

No, not that kind. These folks are not looking for a way to pull in 10 percent or more a year on their life savings. They’re not looking for tax shelters and not searching for the next Microsoft.

They’re taking a longer view than that.

These are people who open their checkbooks and make fairly large gifts to educate and train the next generation of preachers and missionaries and Christian workers of all kinds.

They contribute to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Their gifts build those new apartment buildings that are going up right now. Their gifts pay for the playground equipment and the renovated evangelism center and the new chairs in a classroom.

Their gifts help pay faculty salaries and reduce tuition costs to a bare minimum.

If ever anyone qualified for the term “person of faith,” these good folk do.

In fact, I’m going to make the most stunning statement to come from me in years….


These donors will one day be rewarded by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and they will reap the same rewards as the preachers and missionaries and others whom they are helping along the way.

Get that? The same reward.

Two scriptures….

“He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward” (Matthew 10:41-42).

To those who obediently give of their means to bless those doing the Lord’s work, Jesus said, “You will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:14).

The principle from the Matthew 10 passage is simply that whoever assists the Lord’s worker will receive the reward of that worker.

We know how the principle works in finances. Whoever invested in the early work of, say, Walt Disney or Bill Gates and stayed with the program, eventually their few thousand dollar investment reaped benefits in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

It’s the same with the Lord God.

This morning, I sat with fifty or sixty NOBTS Foundation board members and heard seminary President Chuck Kelley and his staff lay before us various plans for investing in the education and training of the next generation of workers. Some of the seminary’s needs were humongous (been looking for a place to use that word!) and some were smaller. Anyone wanting to make a lasting difference in the work of this seminary left with clear ideas.

As I listened, something occurred to me. “They’re not manipulating these people into giving.”

There were no gimmicks, no inducements of any kind. There was none of this, “And to those who give five thousand dollars, we’ll give you a trip to the Holy Land.” Or the Official WhoDat Bible. Nope. None of that stuff.

No promises that if you sow “seed faith” by giving heavily to the seminary for the education of these preachers and missionaries, God will reward you with great wealth.

In fact, no one even mentioned the promises of heavenly rewards the Lord gives to those who “give to Him” by giving to “the least of these my brethren.”

So, I’m mentioning it. It’s true.

It’s also so easily abused and so often misused that we can understand and appreciate the decision not to mention it. It’s self-serving to say, “Give to me and God will give to you.”

It’s better to have the Lord say, “You give to that person and I will repay you.”

I for one believe He says that.

One final note here.

In my mind, this story involved a pastor in Charlottesville, Virginia, a couple of generations ago. I’ve long since misplaced the story and lost the source. But it still makes the point.

A pastor called a businessman in his church. “Bob, there is a young student at our seminary training for the ministry. He needs some financial help to be able to complete his studies. I wonder if you would be interested in having a part in helping him.”

Bob was quick to say, “Absolutely, pastor. Tell me who it is, how much you want, and where to send it.”

That prompt reaction startled the pastor.

Bob said, “Pastor, some years back your predecessor called with a similar request. I turned him down. But that student went on and became a great preacher, and built a tremendous ministry. Many a time since, I’ve thought that if I had given to support him when he needed it, I would have had a share in that young fellow’s ministry. I made the decision that the next time I was asked, I’d get it right this time.”

This morning, Professor Preston Nix told of the time he was attending Stephen F. Austin College in Nacogdoches, Texas, and had great financial need. He said, “I had long hair and a long beard. I was a Baptist hippie.” But he loved the Lord and made good grades and all agreed he had great potential in the ministry.

Just at that time, however, Nix’s parents divorced. “Because I was the oldest of five children, the financial burden on the family was such that there was no money to help me with college.” It looked like he would have to drop out of school. He prayed and he searched for jobs, but found nothing.

One day, an elderly Methodist lady who lived next door asked him to come by to see her. She had heard of his plight and wanted to help. She wrote him a check that day for $500 which paid for his tuition that semeser.

Preston said, “That dear little Methodist lady is in Heaven now. And I have been doing the Lord’s work all these years because she was faithful and she was generous.”

Remember the commercial where the person hits his head and says, “I could have had a V-8”?

One of these days, when we get to Heaven, many of us are going to look back and realize that we could have used our earthly resources to make a lasting difference in so many around us–little children in the orphanage, teens in the church program, preacher students in college or seminary–and then had a share in the Lord’s reward for them throughout eternity. And we’re going to say, “I could have done that!”

Let’s do it now. While there’s a need, while there’s time, and while we have the means. It doesn’t take much to make a difference.

2 thoughts on “Making a Difference

  1. My dad was a small farmer who worked hard during the Great Depression to support his family. I am the youngest of his five children. After I went away to college and seminary I returned home every summer and worked on the farm. With his help I completed my formal education for the pastoral ministry. Dad was a dedicated church member and a faithful Christian. He never preached a sermon or even led in public prayer. At his funeral I spoke of the great debt I owe him. I am confident that he has been repaid. My ministry is his as well.

    Thurmon Harris

  2. My dad was a small farmer who worked hard during the Great Depression to support his family. I am the youngest of his five children. After I went away to college and seminary I returned home every summer and worked on the farm. With his help I completed my formal education for the pastoral ministry. Dad was a dedicated church member and a faithful Christian. He never preached a sermon or even led in public prayer. At his funeral I spoke of the great debt I owe him. I am confident that he has been repaid. My ministry is his as well.

    Thurmon Harris

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *