Let’s ask ourselves a question that may at first sound a bit typical coming from a “religious” perspective (although it is, in fact, not really a matter of its being “religious” so much as it is “spiritual”, “biblical”, and “godly”). The question is this: “When we give, does God look past the veneer of one’s words and actions and actually weigh the content of his character?”
It increasingly seems to me that, while most of us would say “yes” to this question without even having to think about it, the choices made in many of our lives will in the end paint pictures entirely different than what we may believe. Sadly, many of our life stories will make it clear that we don’t really believe it to be true or that we perhaps don’t even care about what God thinks anyway.
How else could we possibly rationalize the callousness of our hearts, the striving with others for wealth, and the subtle little treacheries that we contrive in order to help ourselves at the cost of hurting others? Does God sit and look upon our daily deeds, reading our motives? Does He really care WHY we do good deeds just so long as good deeds are done?
“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. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling His disciples to Him, Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on’” (Mark 12:41-44 NIV).
Now the Law of Worldly Economics tells us that $1000 is more than one penny. But here, Jesus is pronouncing a new law… or rather a Kingdom principle that should begin to clear a bit of the fog of selfishness and flesh-bound perspectives. When we give our all to God, surrendering to His care control of our resources as well as our worries about the future, He sees us from “where He sits” and takes note not only of WHAT we’ve done, but also the WAY in which we’ve done it! Then, pleased with the faith, reverence, and love of His child, He moves into our experience, prepared to reveal Himself to us in ways we’ve not yet known Him. In this “Kingdom of God Economy”, a penny can produce unimaginable results while thousands of dollars can have no more worth in eternity than a puff of hot air.
When the Christian gives or serves the Lord out of his or her poverty, God does not disdain the gift or act of service. He doesn’t sneer at our sacrifices but embraces them because it hurt us to give. Even if what we give or what we do seems inferior to what others may have given or may have done, the Lord doesn’t get caught up in comparing us to anybody else, but takes us at face value. Thus, a small act of kindness, when motivated by a selfless regard for others, may result in producing enormous spiritual fruit while a huge, multi-million dollar benevolence fund granted to a charity or even a church may have very little meaning in the eyes of God if such giving is done to impress others or to bolster one’s opinion of his or her own spiritual superiority.
Consider the small boy referred to in John 6:5-13. He had only a few small loaves of bread and a couple of tiny fish. Yet his small lunch, when surrendered to the Savior, fed five-thousand men and those with them. All were blessed who were present that day… the crowds, the disciples, but that little boy most of all as he gets to witness God take his small contribution and use it to nourish the masses. Giving can be a scary thing, but God is in control.
Think for a moment about Abraham. In the Bible (Genesis 22:1-14), God asks Abraham to give Him his son, Isaac. Abraham decides to trust God completely, even with this precious son. Father God is then able to take that “offering” and from him create a line that would ultimately produce the Messiah Himself, Jesus. Through that line, God provides us a Savior Who willingly gives His life for us on the Cross of Calvary. Giving can be a painful thing, but God is in control.
“He… did not spare His Own Son, but GAVE Him up for us all…” (Romans 8:32 NIV). “For God so loved the world that He GAVE His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).
In the end, let it simply be said that God cares about motives and means as well as end results. He loves it when we give to Him and serve Him… but only when we do so cheerfully and trustingly. He loves it in part because when we have learned to give of ourselves from our finances, our homes, our cars, our time, our energy, and so on, we reflect, in small ways, His Own nature. He loves it when we give because He Himself is the ultimate Giver.
“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: ‘He has scattered abroad His gifts to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.’ Now He Who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and… your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” (2 Corinthians 9:6-11 NIV).
Let us praise our Father that He can take what we have, what we do, and what we are and produce an abundant “harvest of righteousness”. So let us take the riches with which He has blessed us (material or otherwise) and sow them according to the generosity that He has shown to us through Jesus Christ.