Ever wonder what God might have to say to YOU today? Here are things to ponder, and things to receive into your heart. If you have a question, put it in the comments. I respond as much as I can.

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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Thinking about gifts...

Not spiritual gifts. Gifts of the sort you put into the offering plate, or the church's coffers. Jesus thought about this, too.
Here are HIS thoughts, from Mark 13:

41 And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums.
42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent.
43 Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, "Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury;
44 for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on."

We are always talking, in churches, about how to "help the poor," and how to "help the homeless;" this gives a completely different perspective. We don't know if this woman was homeless or not, but we do know she was going to bed without eating that night. Put yourself in Jesus' place. Assume you didn't know what He knew about this woman. You're watching. She puts a two half-cent pieces into the offering basket.  Next to her, a man in a suit puts in a $1,000 check. Which one do YOU honor? I can tell you, from long experience with the way wealthy people are treated in church. If you are like most ministers, you're thinking of next month's house payment, so the widow's "mite" doesn't mean much. But to God, the "mite" is mighty. Why? Because it represents devotion to God. God was more important to this woman than dinner. Now that puts giving into a very different framework than our typical, "Give and get blessed" sermon, or "Give because the church needs money." Or "Give because the Lord (yeah, right) needs money.
Giving is what we do, Jesus tells us, with our hearts, not with our fortunes. I like to have money. I think everyone does, and having enough money to live on is important to each of us. But sometimes, not EVERY time, it's good to consider what might happen if we gave like the widow. Not what might happen to the church, because that is definitely NOT Jesus' point. The point is what might happen to US. I'm thinking about that as I write this. I've done what the widow did a very few times, and it's really hard to do--give what you need for yourself, determining that God and His work are more important than what you want or need.
A couple of other thoughts:
1. This was a completely corrupt organization. Look what the Jewish leaders did to Jesus only a few days later. However, that didn't negate the widow's gift. She undoubtedly knew about the corruption. It was famous. Everyone knew. Still, she gave--because God had commanded it. God's command was more important to her than the temporary issues that could have made her hold back.
2. You are more than "what you have." The widow essentially had nothing. She might have been able to buy a few slices of dry bread with her money. Other than that, she had nothing. Yet her life was worth as much as the rich woman's next to her. Jesus said, in another place, "A man's life doesn't consist in the abundance of the things he possesses." This is Jesus' own illustration of that principle.
3. It's always wise to remember that Jesus thought quite differently from us, and a good idea to "get inside His head," to see what He thinks of US...of our behavior...of our gifts...of our attitudes. He wants us to know, and that's one reason more to study the four Gospels--to understand His thinking. Why? Because He thinks like the Father. Something else to remember.

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