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The Heart of Giving

What’s your attitude toward offerings at church?  Do you consider it a necessary evil?  Do you look forward to the chance of investing in God’s kingdom?  It turns out that the Lord takes an interest in how we give.

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.
Mark 12:41-42

There are some things about Jesus that you need to know, especially in regards to your giving.  As the pastor of a church, I know that where people choose to sit tells a lot about them.  Jesus chose to sit right in line with the offering boxes so that He could watch people as they gave.

It’s interesting that the literal Greek of this verse says that the Lord watched how the people put their money in the box.  Whether you know it or not, how you give is as important to God as what you give.

That’s because true giving is an act of the heart.  Jesus explained the underlying principle.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Matthew 6:21

This statement brings it all into focus.  At offering time, do you feel like you’re giving your treasure to God?  Or do you feel like you’re giving money to the One that you treasure?  In other words, is Christ your treasure, or is money your treasure?

As Jesus watched the rich give money, they weren’t affected by it.  They gave out of their overflow.  What they put in the treasury wouldn’t change their standard of living.

The widow, on the other hand, gave everything.  Money that could have been used for food or other necessities was now gone.  That made an impression on Jesus and He called it to the disciples’ attention.

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 12:43-44

The Lord’s commentary is important for us to hear.  There’s a “break-even point” in our finances where our expenses equal our income.  He explained that the rich gave from above that point.  The widow gave all that she had, even though she had less than breaking even.

But there’s more Jesus said that we miss because of the translation.  In the original, the Lord said that the widow put in all that she had and her whole life.

She wasn’t just giving her money to God.  She was placing her very life in His hands.  That’s the attitude that’s needed in our giving.

It’s not just my money that belongs to God.  It’s everything that I have, even my very life.  All that I am – my time, goals, dreams, possessions – I must place it all in His hands.

Offerings are not simply a tradition of the church that we have to do each week.  It’s not something I do to get God off my back for another week.  It’s an opportunity to once again confirm to myself and the Lord that all of my life is His.

This widow may have thought that her giving had gone unnoticed.  But the truth is that God saw it, and it moved His heart.  I know without a doubt that God met her need and sustained her because of her faith.  That’s the true attitude of giving.

Question: What goes through your mind as you give your offerings?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Open Hands

In my last post, we saw how hard it is for the rich to walk in the full power of the kingdom of God.  They must first overcome the temptation to depend upon wealth to fulfill their calling.  Now the disciples continue with this topic.

Peter said to him, “We have left everything to follow you!”
Mark 10:28

Peter seems to always be the one who speaks up, usually without thinking first.  I read what he says, but I don’t know if I totally agree with it.

The fact is that Peter still owned a home.  It’s clear that they went back there from time to time (Matthew 8:14).

He didn’t give up his business either.  Peter, along with Andrew, James, and John, went right back to fishing after the death of Christ (John 21:3).

I think that Peter was looking at himself as being a little better than he actually was.  His boasts were usually just words.  If you remember, he also boasted that he would never deny the Lord.

Jesus, however, didn’t argue with them.  He simply explained the kingdom principle of true giving.

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields — and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.  But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
Mark 10:29-31

Jesus is helping them to understand the truth of giving and receiving.  I don’t know if they really understood it yet.  I know that many in the body of Christ don’t understand it in this generation.

Some concentrate on giving, while others look for how to receive.  The truth is that the giving and receiving are always tied together.  Paul explained this to the Philippian church.

Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only…
Philippians 4:15

This is a very rich statement.  I don’t think the translators did it justice.  What Paul actually says, in the original Greek, is that no one participated in the Word of giving and receiving except for them.  That’s an interesting phrase – the Word of giving and receiving.

This doesn’t mean that we have to give everything away in order to please God.  What it does mean is that I place everything that I have and all that I am into the Lord’s hand.  I let Him know that whatever, whenever He asks, I will give without hesitation.

In our hearts, we have given everything over to God.  All that I have is available for His use.

The good news is that when my hands are open before God, they’re ready for two things.  With open hands, I can give, and with open hands, I can receive.

Don’t be self-deceived.  The Lord’s last statement about the first and the last apply to this.  Peter thought he was in line to receive.  Many run to the front of the “receiving line” thinking they’ll get something from God.

Jesus taught that giving and receiving was a package deal.  Put your life and all you have in the Lord’s hands.  Then you can trust Him to provide all that you need.

Question: What have you been intentional about turning over to the Lord for His use?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2018 in God's Provision, Spiritual Walk

 

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Giving – It’s Not What You Think

presentsUsually people associate the term giving with money. That’s not what I’m going to talk about. As a matter of fact, money is one of those things that we’re the most willing to give.

There are things that are easier to give than others. After watching mankind for centuries, Satan came to a conclusion about us.

Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life.
Job 2:4

According to his testimony, we’ll give anything before we will give our lives. But that’s just what we’re called to do. Jesus made it clear to His disciples that this was the case.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
Matthew 16:24-26

The truth is that a person will sell everything in order to save their life. It’s clear that there’s no greater prize than a person’s life. That’s why the greatest gift you can give to God is yourself.

It’s also the toughest thing we can do. We’d all like to remain in control of our lives. But the Lord tells us that the only way to preserve your life is to turn it over to Him.

“It’s my life. I’ll live it the way I want.”

That’s the cry of this generation. Unfortunately this attitude has crept over into the church. When we accepted Christ as our Savior, everything changed.

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.
John 6:37

In our act of surrender to Christ, the Father is giving us to Him. Jesus will never refuse anyone who comes to Him.

That’s a comforting thought. No matter what my condition is when I come to Him, the Lord will begin His work in me just the way that I am.

In the salvation process, God gives me as a gift to Himself. All the while He knows the deepest part of my soul. He knows all about my personality, my likes and my dislikes. The Lord knows what makes me different from everyone else.

That means that my life is like a gift-card for God to use as He wills. Every card is different. Some are for restaurants, others are for clothing stores.

In the same way, Jesus knows what we’re best suited for in His kingdom. Only He can use us to the best of our abilities. He can do more through us than we could ever imagine.

But before that can happen I have to willingly position myself in His hands. I want to talk about this for a couple of posts. We need to understand what it means to surrender our lives to His will.

Question: What does taking up His cross mean to you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2016 in Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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