“Perhaps you say, the weeks are so unlike; in one week I may earn three or even ten times as much as in another week, and if I give according to my earnings from my calling during a very good week, then how are such weeks when I earn scarcely anything, or how are the bad debts to be met? How shall I do when sickness befalls my family or when other trials productive of expense come upon me, if I do not make provision for such seasons?
My reply is, I do not find in the whole New Testament one single passage in which either directly or indirectly exhortations are given to provide against deadness in business, bad debts, or sickness in our family, or other trials which increase our expense, to befall us, because we do not, as his stewards, act according to stewardship, but as if we were owners of what we have, forgetting that the time has not yet come when we shall enter upon our possessions; and he does so in order that, by these losses and expenses, our property which we have collected may be decreased, lest we should altogether set our hearts again upon earthly things, and forget God entirely. His love is so great, that he will not let his children quietly go their own way when they have forsaken him; but if his loving admonitions by His Holy Spirit are disregarded, he is obliged in fatherly love to chastise them.
A striking illustration of what I have said we have in the case of Israel nationally. The commandment to them was, to leave their land uncultivated in the seventh year, in order that it might rest, and the Lord promised to make up for this deficiency by his abundant blessing resting upon the sixth year. However, Israel acted not according to the commandment, no doubt saying, in the unbelief of their hearts, as the Lord had foretold. “What shall we eat in the seventh year? Behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase” Lev XXV. But what did the Lord do? He was determined the land should have rest, and as the Israelites did not willingly give it, he sent them for seventy years into captivity, in order that thus the land might have rest. See Lev xxxvi.33-35.
Beloved brethren in the Lord, let us take heed so to walk as that the Lord may not be obliged by chastisement to take part of our earthly possessions from us in the way of bad debts, sickness, decrease of business, and the like, because we would not own our position as stewards, but act as owners, and keep for ourselves the means with which the Lord has entrusted us, not for the gratification of our own carnal mind, but for the sake of using them in his service and to his praise.
It might also be said by a brother whose earnings are small, should I also give according to my earnings? They are already so small that my wife can only with the greatest difficulty manage to make them sufficient for the family?
My reply is, Have you ever considered, my brother, that the very reason why the Lord is obliged to let your earnings remain so small may be the fact of your spending everything upon yourselves, and that if he were to give you more you would only use it to increase your own family comfort, instead of looking about to see who among the brethren are sick, or who have no work at all, that you might help them, or how you might assist the work of God at home or abroad? There is a great temptation for a brother whose earnings are small to put off the responsibility of assisting the needy and sick saints, or helping the on the world of God, and to lay upon the few rich brethren and sisters with whom he is associated in fellowship, and those rob his own soul!
It might be asked, How much shall I give of my income? The tenth part, or the fifth part, or the third part, or one half or more?
My reply is, God lays down no rule concerning this point. What we do we should do cheerfully and not out of necessity.”
George Müller in The Life of Trust: Being a Narrative of the Lord’s Dealings with George Müller (New York: Thomas Y Crowell & Co, 1877) 270-272.