Jump directly to the Content
Jump directly to the Content

Sermon Illustrations

Home > Sermon Illustrations

Debt-Ridden Couple Learns to Give First to God

In a sermon on giving, Dave Ferguson, pastor of Community Christian Church in Naperville, Illinois, read this letter from Jeff and Julie, who attend the church:

Julie and I started attending Community Christian Church in January 1993, after moving here from California.
We moved here for a business opportunity that ended up not working out, and we soon found ourselves in a desperate financial situation. We were behind in our rent and our car payments. We had back-IRS payments, 16 credit cards with more than $40,000 in debt, and not enough food in the fridge to keep our tummies full. And on top of all that, we decided to start a business.
Well, in the middle of this, Jon had challenged us to include our finances in our commitment to following Jesus, and I really struggled with this. It wasn't that I didn't want to support CCC or set an example for others to follow. It was, in fact, that on occasion Julie and I were so broke that we ended up going to a friend's restaurant to ask for free food. I thought, If I'm struggling to keep my family, how can I commit what I don't have to God? What am I supposed to do; just write a check for ten percent of my income and hope that something happens? Jon urged me to trust God and give it a shot.
After prayer and discussion, we decided that God would get the first portion of every check and not just what we were willing to give up each week. We learned to make God the first priority in our lives, and we had no idea how we'd get by.
During the week after this decision, my brother and I were dropping off flyers at a construction site looking for work. We'd started a carpentry company. We met a builder, and he asked if we would be interested in doing their work. He had a house that was ready for us to start immediately and about twenty more to do during the next twelve months.
Julie and I no longer questioned how we'd honor our financial commitment. Julie and I decided to increase our giving.
If our story ended there, it would be a good story. However, you cannot outgive God. Over the next couple of years through a complicated and divinely orchestrated series of events, Julie and I also went from renters to homeowners. Owning a home has given us the ability to restructure our debt and give us some security and stability. I felt the need to tell our story. The story is much, much more than about finances. It's about faith, stepping out and trusting God with all that we have—our lives, our future, our relationship, and even our finances.
Now as I reflect on this story and what we experienced, I'm still trying to answer one question. What was it that we sacrificed?

Related Sermon Illustrations

The Human Longing for a Meaningful Harvest

As tedious and tiresome as it can be, there's something soothing about the sound and smell of leaves as you rake, and something satisfying about seeing them all bundled up when ...

[Read More]

What It Means to Excel at Giving

Paul said, "See that you also excel in this grace of giving" (2 Corinthians 8:7). Like piano playing, giving is a skill. With practice, we get better at it. We can learn ...

[Read More]