by Matt Cox
“Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord and will repay him for his deed.” Proverbs: 19:17
Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble, the Lord delivers him.
The Lord protects him and keeps him alive. He is called blessed in the Land. You do not give him up to the will of his enemies. Psalm 41:1-2
In 2012 I wanted to learn how to invest and grow my wealth. In my studies on the matter I stumbled on an asset known as real estate. When I ran the numbers, I couldn’t believe the opportunities that surrounded me in Arizona. After more research I found a property that just screamed with amazing financial potential. How I acquired the property was nothing short of a miracle.
The reason I know it was God was because God seems to make things that are impossible possible. In this case, I was not the only investor that found this opportunity. There were approximately fourteen other investors competing for this property. I promised the Lord that I would honor him and be responsible with the income. I promised the Lord that I would do everything in my power to multiply the talents he gave me. To summarize, I beat out fourteen investors and acquired the property! Now, it was time to fix it up. I hired a contractor to renovate the property and help me get it rent-ready. That proved to be a painful lesson when the contractor took $45,000 and still did not get the building ready for business.
I decided to learn to do the work and complete the job myself. This building is made up of four apartments, so I could live in one apartment and rent out the other three. So, I fixed the first apartment and got it ready. I then moved and fixed the second apartment. I then marketed these apartments and got new tenants. Now my business was not hemorrhaging money. Then finally I started working on the final apartment.
One night I left all my tools in that apartment when I went home and, sure enough, a thief broke in while I was away and stole everything. I was very frustrated and angry. I had to quickly purchase another set of tools to complete the work, which was an unplanned expense.
Two months later I finished the last apartment. Before putting it up for rent I decided to go to the pool at the gym for a swim. While working out I thanked God that I was finally going to start making money. I hadn’t made a single dollar in a year and this last apartment would finally be the one that would allow me to profit!
But my workout was interrupted by a young evangelist sitting in the Jacuzzi. He asked if I was a Christian and I told him I was. I’m guessing he saw the “I AM SECOND” bracelet on my wrist. We talked a bit, exchanged contact information, and went our ways.
A few days later he called to hang out. We had a couple drinks and got really excited about what Jesus put on our hearts! It turned out that he and his wife were going to start a work in Tucson, which is my hometown. Not many people understand how awesome that city is, but it’s also sadly an “unchurched city” in need of evangelism.
I was moved by his vision, but then the conversation went in a direction that jolted me. He asked, “Matt do you know of any older couples at your church who have a guest house where my wife and I could stay? We’re trusting God to do amazing things and he put on my heart to try not to pay rent. We believe God is going to ask us to move soon and we don’t want to be stuck with a lease.”
Of course, he didn’t know that I’d just finished construction on my last apartment which was vacant. It would be perfect for them, but not for me. I was not happy about that prospect at all; in fact, I felt angry. As a 24-year-old investor who was taken advantage of by a crooked contractor, whose tools were stolen, and who had to do all the work himself because he had no money to hire anyone, I was eager to get some income from that place. I asked God to release me from my anger about this situation, but it didn’t seem to help.
I called my Dad and said, “I believe God is asking me to minister to this couple by giving them a place to stay. What do you think?” Without skipping a beat, he said, “Matt, your instinct is right. God is speaking to you. Don’t be angry with him. You’re not alone! He will provide.” When I hung up, the peace of God flowed over me. It was amazing; I can’t describe the feeling. I understood that God was asking for the First Fruits of my labor. It felt like a big deal because this was all I had and I offered it to God. I didn’t know how things would unfold but I trusted that he’d provide.
I called my friend and explained that I had finished developing a property that would be perfect for him and his wife. Naturally, they were surprised and grateful and could hardly believe it. That was fun, but then things took an unexpected turn. After 6 months at my apartment they asked if I’d be willing to go on a blind date with their friend Sarah, and I agreed. A year later, Sarah is now my wife. God asked me to trust him with my First Fruits and, in response to my obedience, he opened the door to a new life.
It’s crazy, and only God can connect all those dots. There are struggles in our lives that God allows us to go through to prepare us for a season in a complete different area of life. God used finances to test my heart for marriage. As a result, my heart is transformed. I’m a joyful giver who’s forever grateful.