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Give to Receive?
“You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” (2 Corinthians 9:11 NIV).
Most Christians understand the need for giving. For early Jews and Christians, almsgiving was the act of filling a material need for someone less fortunate, usually by giving money. God incorporated the concept of alms into the Mosaic Law when He ordered land-owners to leave to the poor the corners of the fields (Leviticus 19:9-10), and every seventh year, leave the entire field (Exodus 23:10-11). In churches today, “alms” often go by the name love offering or benevolence fund.
I have written earlier about the benefits of giving back to the church. This includes not only tithing but also our presence, talents, witness, and prayers. Our giving is a means of grace and draws us closer to God. We should only give out of joy and not with the expectation that God is now in debt to us for our gift. “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Our gifts to the church reveal a lot about our priorities and our heart. God examines our hearts and knows our true desires. Jeremiah 17:10 teaches, “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” So, what is your most prized possession? Maybe it has economic value such as your house or sentimental value such as a picture. Any items that is highly valued is our “treasure.” It may not be gold coins, but it is still our treasure and this is important and revealing. The Word teaches us, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” So, our treasure and our emotions are intimately related.
There is nothing wrong with having things of economic or sentimental value. The problem comes when our things “have us.” God modeled true generosity when He sacrificed his greatest treasure for us. When we give like He does, and we honor Him with that giving, it makes us more like Him.
So, what are we to do with our treasure? Many of my material treasures were lost in a flood a few years ago. You may have had your treasure stolen or lost in a fire. I have come to realize that my true treasure can never be lost or stolen. One of my favorite Scriptures is Matthew 6:19-21 which reads as follows. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Now, go back and re-read the previous sentence. It will help you to better understand your heart and yourself. Matthew 25:40 tells us how to go about storing up our treasure in heaven. “The King will reply, Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Prayer: Dear God: Help us to keep you first in our lives. Thank you for modeling for us how to store up treasure in heaven. Be with us as we seek out opportunities to be your hands and feet. Amen.
Meet the Author
Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
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