Rankin Paynter is a businessman. He lives in Winchester, Kentucky.
Mr. Paynter is shrewd, practical and wise. He’d been successful and he knew a good business venture when he saw one. He had taken advantage of plenty of great opportunities over his 77 years. So when a local Kmart closed its doors, Paynter bought up the store’s entire inventory faster than you could say “smart move.”
As an investment, it represented a small gold mine of merchandise he could market and re-sell.
But something happened to Rankin Paynter on the way to the bank.
Paynter caught a vision – and it wouldn’t let him go.
The more he thought, the more he felt – and the more he felt, the more he thought. His mind and his heart were having a conversation and his heart was making a persuasive argument.
In the end, Rankin Paynter’s heart won out.
Paynter decided he would donate the entire Kmart inventory – worth $200,000 – to local charity. One of the community agencies estimated that his donation would help to clothe every struggling family in the area through next winter.
Mr. Paynter reflected on his gift. “We’ve all been put on this earth to help each other through,” he observed. “If I can help people through, I’m happy.”
So is God. Giving matters to him.
Of the 36 parables Jesus told, 17 of them were about property and stewardship. They were about giving and receiving. They were also about investing.
In his story of the talents, Jesus spoke of the man who before he went away on a long trip “called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone” (Matthew 25: 14, NLT). Two of the servants made sound investments with multiplied lasting results. They were men of vision and commitment.
This the owner commended.
The third servant thought he’d done the prudent and wise thing when he buried his money in the ground for safe keeping. This is the man who never caught a vision, never took a risk, never showed faith and never invested in the kingdom of God. It turns out that what this man thought made sense was not what the owner had wanted or expected of him. Instead of being commended for his supposed prudence, this servant was condemned for his lack of faith.
Philanthropy has changed this nation – and the world – in some impressive ways.
Every year billions of private dollars are invested in trying to make this nation and the world a better place. Vote seekers who find the rich a convenient punching bag never seem to grasp or appreciate this central fact of the American economy. Men and women of wealth, along with those of more moderate income, have generously tackled social problems in ways the government can’t.
It’s worth noting too that politicians who are the most generous with other people’s money are often the least generous with their own.
Before he died in 1919, Andrew Carnegie gave away 330 million dollars of his wealth. Today, that would be in the billions. “A man who dies rich,” Carnegie once said, “dies disgraced.” Men like Carnegie – men who worked hard to build – and profit from – America’s free enterprise system also built hospitals, schools, libraries and churches. Their generosity and vision made an indelible mark upon the quality of life in this country long after their own lives ended.
They knew it would – that’s why they gave.
Godly men of wealth understand this better than many. Their faith gives motive and meaning to their generosity.
G. Le Tourneau, a devout Christian who made a fortune manufacturing earth-moving equipment, was once asked how it was possible that he could give away 90% of his income to Christian ministry and still become amazingly rich. ‘”Well,” LeTourneau mused, “I guess I had a shovel – but God had a bigger one”.
“Give,” Jesus tells us, “and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full …” (Luke 6: 38, NLT).
It’s true – you cannot out-give God.
“For we brought nothing into this world,” Paul writes to Timothy, “and it is certain we can carry nothing out” (I Timothy 6:7, KJV). This may rank as one of the most self-evident truths ever neglected.
In God’s divine economy, wealth is not a reward; it’s a test. It’s not an end in itself – it’s an exciting means to a far greater and more glorious end. The accumulation of money does not buy our security – that comes only from God. Instead, wealth is our opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.
When you and I give we express our gratitude for what we’ve been given.
To be able to give a “transformational gift” – one that changes the equation for all time – is one of God’s greatest gifts. To have the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy – to give a gift that outlives the giver – is one of life’s greatest blessings and a rare privilege afforded to very few.
It really is more blessed to give than to receive.
Rankin Paynter could tell you.
May God bless you and your family.