Does How You Give Matter to God?
Devotional THought of the Day:
1 The LORD says, “Shout as loud as you can! Tell my people Israel about their sins! 2 They worship me every day, claiming that they are eager to know my ways and obey my laws. They say they want me to give them just laws and that they take pleasure in worshiping me.” 3 The people ask, “Why should we fast if the LORD never notices? Why should we go without food if he pays no attention?” The LORD says to them, “The truth is that at the same time you fast, you pursue your own interests and oppress your workers. 4 Your fasting makes you violent, and you quarrel and fight. Do you think this kind of fasting will make me listen to your prayers? 5 When you fast, you make yourselves suffer; you bow your heads low like a blade of grass and spread out sackcloth and ashes to lie on. Is that what you call fasting? Do you think I will be pleased with that? 6 “The kind of fasting I want is this: Remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free. 7 Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor. Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear, and do not refuse to help your own relatives. Isaiah 58:1-7 (TEV)
1 Our friends, we want you to know what God’s grace has accomplished in the churches in Macedonia. 2 They have been severely tested by the troubles they went through; but their joy was so great that they were extremely generous in their giving, even though they are very poor. 3 I can assure you that they gave as much as they could, and even more than they could. Of their own free will 4 they begged us and pleaded for the privilege of having a part in helping God’s people in Judea. 2 Corinthians 8:1-4 (TEV)
Two passages, two groups of people, both of whom “gave” to God.
Yet one is judged, harshly, the other is applauded.
It doesn’t matter if the gift is money, or time, whether it is setting aside your pride, or your needs. What matters a lot is our attitude, as seen in both of these passages. In the Old Testament reading, those who were giving seem to be giving in view of what they would get back. They would go without food, if God would give them what they wanted in return. THey kept fasting thinking if they could just do it enough, they would earn God’s favor. When they were disappointed – they took it out on those around them, and they saw their sacrifices as “suffering”. Rather than use what they would offer to God to help others, they abused and neglected them.
The Macedonians however, begged and peladed for the opportunity to help – they gave more than they had, And with great joy!
They worked to free the oppressed, they sacrificed that others could be free.
This isn’t a Old Testament versus New Testament issue, both the Corinthians and Phillippians had to be encouraged to be those who invested in others. Even today we struggle to give of ourselves, we have to guard against our own cynicism, our own judgmental nature and pride. ANd our own expectations. If we give, if we sacrifice, are we doing it because we are simply living like Christ, or are we expecting something? An answered prayer, a better home, anice position, or maybe even a better seat in heaven?
The only way I know of, to give freely, is to not look at the giving, but focusing on the one who gives to us.
To realize the extent of His love, of His sacriifice, not using His behavior as a law to be fulfilled, but being completely aware of how He looks at us, and letting His show us how He has sent us to be there for others, in His stead.
That’s were the Macedonians were at, that is where the people Isaiah prophesied to needed to be at….
To realize the attitude of Jesus, and to allow the Spirit to mold us into His likeness….ever while we adore the Lord who has come into our lives.
Lord have mercy on Us…. we cry… knowing that mercy is promised and given…