Changed by Grace: Becoming a Joyful Giver

By January 12, 2016 No Comments

If you would have told Dr. Phillip Abbott 30 years ago that one of his greatest joys would be financially supporting God’s Kingdom, not only would he have scoffed, he may have even been irritated at the notion.

Dr. Abbott prayed to accept the Lord as his personal savior in his late 20s during a conversation with a door-to-door evangelist who shared the Gospel and to his surprise, did not ask for money. But the next day Satan was already at work on the new believer.

“A receptionist at work said, ‘Don’t worry; they will ask you to give 10 percent whenever you start attending their church,’” he said. “And right away I shut it down.”

Nearly five years later he renewed his commitment to Christ and joined a Bible study a friend invited him to, but the subject of giving was one he continued to avoid – until a friend asked him how he did in the area of stewardship.

“I told him I struggled,” Abbott said. “He said, ‘I’m not going to tell you to do anything except pray about it.’”

Abbott took the advice and God used it as a seed that began to choke out the old and sprout new life.

The slender dentist did not become a tither overnight, but to his astonishment, he started to become excited by the prospect of helping transform the lives of others through his pocketbook.

“I’m a dentist and everything is painful that I do, but the joke is I have an even more delicate connection than that and it’s the nerve that connects your hip to your wallet,” he said.

Abbott said his desire to give continued to increase, and he held 1 Corinthians 15:10 close to his heart. “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.” (1 Corinthians 15:10 NIV)

While Abbott is modest about the successful dental practice he has led in Bartow for nearly 30 years, the fruits of his labor are worth noting. Dr. Abbott and his wife, Lynette, have financially supported local ministries and charities and gone on numerous international dental missions, including two with One More Child. The couple has had an affinity for Florida Baptist Children’s Homes for many years and appreciates the way the organization helps hurting children and shares Christ with them.

Earlier this year they enjoyed a private dinner at the residence of Dr. Jerry Haag, President of Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, The Porch Light and One More Child, and they left excited about FBCH’s mission and unsure of how they might support it. The next week, God unequivocally used Scripture to speak to Dr. Abbott. They decided to make a significant financial gift to FBCH – a gift that is in addition to including FBCH in their estate plans several years ago.

On July 31, Dr. Abbott was making his way through the book of 1 Chronicles as part of his practice of reading through the Bible each year; he was expecting nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, Lynette had even mentioned the day before how parts of the Old Testament seemed arduous at times with so many lists and names.

He was reading about how King David spent his latter years helping gather the necessary resources for King Solomon to build the temple in Jerusalem. At the beginning of chapter 29, Dr. Abbott said the Holy Spirit prompted several verses to “almost leap off the page.” “Besides, in my devotion to the temple of my God I now give my personal treasures of gold and silver for the temple of my God, over and above everything I have provided for this holy temple… and for all the work to be done by the craftsmen.” (1 Chronicles 29:3,5b)

Like the craftsmen using their skills to build the temple, Dr. Abbott said he could suddenly equate FBCH employees as craftsmen and the souls of children around the world are the temple they help construct.

“God was using this ancient account of David’s giving to the temples’ construction to speak to me,” he said. “I received a clear word from the Holy Spirit saying that all these precious children throughout the world that FBCH reaches could one day be the temple of the living God if they were to be given a chance to respond to God’s truth of redemption through Christ.”

Dr. Abbott said he is excited that through giving he can be part of FBCH’s strategic 5-year plan to serve and care for more children around the world.

He offers this wisdom for anyone wondering how God might use them through financial stewardship: “If anyone says they struggle with giving, I just tell them to pray because I can guarantee that God can change your heart. I’m a testament of someone who used to be angry if you were to insinuate that I give, to now, where by God’s grace, it is a joy to give.”

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