I never lost by giving

by Masataro Narita

I’m ashamed to admit this, but when I was active in the front lines of business (I’m now a retired businessman in my mid-70s) I believed that money was everything. When my wife complained that there wasn’t enough love in our marriage, I roared back that love wouldn’t keep food on the table. Since I believed that material things were everything, I didn’t believe in God or miracles.

That changed gradually after I was introduced to the Bible. As I studied the Bible I learned about God’s economic system, which is based on love and sharing—quite different from the me-first materialism that had driven me up till then. I also discovered that we are living in the Time of the End, and that the world’s economy will soon collapse. This helped me make the transition towards living less for material things. Here is a story about a condominium building that was one of those possessions.

It was 1985, and Japan’s economy was booming. My wife and I had begun supporting the Family’s volunteer work and had just given our first substantial donation. We hadn’t given in the hope of being blessed in return, but still I was curious to find out if Jesus’ “give and it shall be given to you” promise could be taken literally.

The Bible promises that God will repay giving to His work, but I never imagined that I would receive such abundant repayment, both financially and spiritually, as a result of giving. Just one week later, my company sold a piece of property that had been dead weight for many years. I wasn’t convinced, however, that the deal was God’s blessing on us for giving to His work. Perhaps it had just been happenstance.

Then a second blessing began to unfold—this one involving a condominium that I was building.

My bank introduced me to a building contractor, whom I hired to draw up the building plans. Overly eager to get started, the contractor applied for a building permit before I had approved his design—and I didn’t approve. I found his design to be too ordinary, and when we couldn’t agree on the matter, I sent a commission to another contractor. With the bank acting as intermediary, we finally agreed that the condominium would be a joint construction project between the two contractors. The problem was settled, but not without a three-month delay.

At the onset of the project, it had been determined that I would need to pay 100 million yen (about 1 million U.S. dollars) to the city planning fund. But while everything was topsy-turvy, the regulation concerning the city planning fund changed. Under the new regulation, only new condominiums with more than 40 rooms were subject to the fee. As mine had only 37 rooms, I didn’t have to pay the 100 million yen!

The story doesn’t end there, though. I soon learned that the government was significantly increasing taxation on the construction of condominiums, effective in April, and I berated myself for my tardiness in getting the project started. But the first contractor’s mistake in prematurely applying for a building permit became my good fortune when I received building approval in March. If the timing had been any different, the taxes would have been much higher.

The Lord had blessed me in both situations. Looking back, I see that it must have been because my wife and I were helping the Lord’s work in whatever way we could.

After four or five years I began to feel uneasy about the future of managing a condominium, so I sold it at what seemed to be a low price. But since it was during the bubble economy, it still turned a considerable profit, provided me with additional retirement funds, and hastened my departure from business. A couple of years later, the bubble economy burst. I had sold everything at the perfect time!

Through these events I learned to recognize God’s presence in my life. I also came to realize that the Lord does indeed lead and bless us when we are in partnership with Him.

The Bible promises that God will repay giving to His work, but I never imagined that I would receive such abundant repayment, both financially and spiritually, as a result of giving a little at first, then more and continually. Looking back now, I am overcome with astonishment and thankfulness.

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