Sunday, November 6, 2011

God & My Bank Account

Moving from green beans to corn, from yams to Stove Top stuffing, I take a box and add it to my pie crust mix, my frozen turkey. Just a few extra items added to my regular grocery run. Not enough to change the world by myself. But enough to give one needy family a well-rounded Thanksgiving meal.

We have entered the season of helping others. And yet a recent survey states “of the nation's 400 largest charities, half of them projected a decline of at least 9 per cent.”

In past years, Americans have been used to giving from their excess. But now with the loss of jobs, salary cuts, and higher costs at the store, we have tightened our budgets. Now, we’ll feel the pinch if we give. And for many, that has meant choosing to give less or nothing at all to those not as fortunate.

I, like many of you, am not rich by the world’s standards. With three hungry little mouths at the table and the permanent loss of my husband’s career into one with more flux than stability, I know how to stretch a dollar. And I know about learning to do with less.

But I also know that no matter how stretched the dollar is around our house, God always has provided enough for us to give something when He places a need on our hearts.

I’m not talking about God blessing my family just enough to give our 10% tithe as commanded in Scripture. I’m talking about God enabling us so that we can give an offering above and beyond the requirements. I'm talking about giving extravagantly through God.

For we as Christians to be generous in our giving, though, our hearts first must be right with God so that we are willing to release the offering He has given us already. Secondly, we must understand that in the previousness of God, He has already provided us with offerings to give. Scripture gives several examples of these two concepts.

In the Old Testament when Hezekiah became king of Judah, he led the people to get their hearts right with God and then said, “Come and bring sacrifices and thank offerings,” and “all whose hearts were willing” brought more offerings than anyone could have imagined (2 Chron. 29:31). This wasn’t an ego-trip for the people, though. They “rejoiced at what God had brought about for his people” (v. 36, my italics). The people understood they were merely giving back what God had given them to offer in the first place.

King David understood this same concept when he asked Israel’s leaders to give an offering to help build the temple. They did—again, in great abundance as well as “freely and wholeheartedly to the LORD” (1 Chron. 29:9).

David’s prayer over this offering beautifully expressed his thankfulness to God for the ability to offer these gifts: "But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand….O LORD our God, as for all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name, it comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you” (v. 14, 16).

Oh how I love David’s prayer. But my favorite passage is found in Israel’s early history when Moses was building the tabernacle and asked “Everyone who is willing to bring to the LORD an offering” (Ex. 35:4). The people brought so much that Moses ordered everyone to STOP: “’No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.’ And so the people were restrained from bringing more” (Ex. 36:6). Can you imagine too much giving?

Paul perfectly sums our why Christians should give with a willing heart: “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God….Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else….Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corr. 9:11,13,15)

What if everyone who read this posting ate one less meal a week? Bought one less toy for our children this Christmas?

Small sacrifices to give out of the abundance God has given us.

I thank you for grace in my reposting this from a few years ago. It just seemed to speak my heart best as I look forward a few weeks on my calendar.

1 comment:

  1. Nice consider small sacrifices in order to give more this season.

    We just rounded up some items to donate to Amvets, and I thought, "Look at all this. Things we saved up to buy, and now they're bagged up to give away." We should just ask for less, enjoy what we have, and give.