Our Sunday School had sent Mission Trifolds. The trifold could be folded out to reveal a faded picture of a church in progress of being built. In the foreground were tiny stamp sized boxes all in a row. In order to receive a stamp, you had to bring a quarter for mission money. Each stamp could be placed on the trifold until it was filled up. (Total of about $10) The idea was that you were helping to build a church.
I saved up my allowance. I took 25 cents out of my dollar each week. I slowly built my 2D church.
I remember another kid. He hadn't done anything with his mission money. That is until the day it was supposed to be complete. On that day, his mom had given him a $20 bill!!! He completed the charts all at once.
I was frustrated. It was so easy for him to give lots. It was so hard for me. Didn't God want me to build up my stamp collection for Jesus? I must not have been that impressive of a Christian. If I was, I would've needed the teacher to order more trifolds because I went through them so fast.
Is dollar amount what impresses Jesus?
Check out a similar situation: 41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. 43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12)
For some reason, I picture the rich people to look very similar to the people on Shark Tank. Mark Cuban throws a couple million in. The guy from FUBU throws another some million. Mr. Wonderful grimaces at them all and places a billion in. There's a big commotion. Everybody watches as the rich put in glorious amounts. Man do they look good.
But this woman didn't make much noise at all. No more than the noise of two copper coins hitting the bottom of the money box.
Yet to Jesus, the woman's gift was more impressive. She gave out of love for her God who loved her. She gave out of thanks for a God who had given her everything. She gave out of trust that He would take care of her -- even if this was her last amount.
Today, I don't want to ask how much you give? But...why? The WHY is so much more important than the 'how much?"
It's easy for us to give for selfish reasons. "Because it makes us look good." "Because it keeps us from looking bad." "Because we feel like we have to." "Because we can afford it." When that happens the cure is to take that selfishness to the cross. There we see a selfless Jesus who was "rich, but for our sakes became poor."
He was God. He owned everything, yet he sacrificed it for you.
Now he has given us eternal riches: forgiveness, eternal life, victory over death and the devil. (These are all things that are not for sale at your local Macys!) So give out of thanks to him! Give out of trust that he'll take care of you. Give out of love because he loved you first!
When you give to a church, a church uses that money to share the Gospel -- this good message of Jesus the Savior. Some goes to keep the lights on at the church. Some pays those who work there so they can focus on sharing the Gospel. Some goes to fliers, invitations, books, Bibles, etc. that are used to share the message with others. Still more goes to help the poor or to enable a missionary far away.
What an awesome opportunity it is! God enable us to participate in his ministry. And he's less interested in the amount, as he is interested in heart that gives out of love.
If only I had realized that in Sunday School!
PRAYER: Dear Lord, forgive me for my selfishness. Oftentimes I give of my time, talents, and treasures in order to look good or in order to get something from you. Forgive me. Instead, help me to give to your Gospel out of thankfulness for the Gospel. Use my gifts to spread your Word this Easter. Amen.