June 21, 2013
Wallets, billfolds, purses – we probably all have one. They are the place where we put our money, credit cards, driver’s license and ID cards. They are necessary things that take a tremendous amount of wear and tear.
Wallets wear out. I can remember the transfer from a worn out one to a new one. The old wallet’s leather was worn and discolored. It had never quite recovered from the amusement park water ride. Emptied it looked kind of like a shed snake’s skin – still having some of the shape of its former occupants, but looking very lifeless.
But worse that wearing out – money disappears from them at blinding speed. I’m reminded of Proverbs 23:5: “Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle” (NIV).
How would you like a wallet that never wears out? It’s a special wallet that never loses its contents. Is it some special new super cowhide with SuperGlue inside? No, this special offer isn’t found on the shopping channel, but from Jesus himself.
And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:29-34, NIV
It’s a paradox. What I give as a Christian is what I truly get to keep. What I accumulate for myself will ultimately go to another, “naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart” (Job 1:21). Thomas Fuller states another paradox, “Riches enlarge rather than satisfy appetites.” Somewhere along the way, I must learn that satisfaction and contentment come from another source than more things. As Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Do I have an eternal wallet or simply one that will wear out?
July 8, 2012
The scene was likely in the court of the women also known as the court of prayer in Herod’s Temple (Mark 12:41-44 and Luke 21:1-4). It was an area with a simple colonnade on three sides. Along the colonnade were thirteen trumpet shaped chests for placing contributions. Jesus observed the rich depositing large sums, but it was a poor widow that he commended. She gave two copper coins (the King James renders as “two mites”). She gave out of her poverty. She gave all that she had to live on.
The widow’s gift reminds us of the faith of giving. I can see my checking account balance. I can see my car. I can see my house, my possessions, and my investments. But to store up treasures in heaven is to put my trust in the unseen. It is to claim that the unseen is lasting while the things of this world are temporary. It is to say that God’s cause is more important than the things I can touch. It is also to trust God to provide for the future. Will what I give up today be needed tomorrow? Or can I trust God that if I seek first His kingdom, all these things will be added also?
The widow’s gift reminds us of the sacrifice of giving. The rich had given larger sums of money, but the widow had made the greater sacrifice. Jesus says that she gave her whole life. The word, “life,” was also used for the things sustaining life, so our English versions will say, “all she had to live on.” But the point of giving her whole life is significant; she gave herself completely to God. Like the Macedonians who “gave themselves first to the Lord” (2 Corinthians 8:5, ESV), the widow also gave out of poverty but with great generosity. The Lord knows how much we have and how much we give. Generosity is measured by the sacrifice of our giving and not the size of our gift.
The widow’s gift reminds us of the joy of giving. Although the widow’s joy is not mentioned in the text, I can’t imagine her walking away in sorrow about those two coins — “for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). I suspect she thanked God that she had something to give. There is joy in being a part of something bigger than ourselves. There is joy in being a part of God’s work. It gives meaning and purpose to our lives. Scripture teaches that joy and giving go together (2 Cor. 8:2). “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35, ESV).
The story of the widow’s mites reminds us of the widow’s might. She has left a mighty example of the faith, sacrifice, and joy of giving.
December 17, 2010
Giving gifts doesn’t necessarily come naturally. We give because we have first received. Gift giving means that we have learned to overcome selfish desires and greed. Gift giving means that we have learned to love, honor, and appreciate others. Good gift giving comes from being considerate of other people’s needs, wants, and desires. In gift giving we learn the joy of service — it is more blessed to give than to receive. I suspect that just as we love because God first love us, we give because God has richly given to us.
James describes God as the perfect giver of gifts.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. ” (James 1:17, ESV)
What good gifts have you received?
God is our creator, and he has created a world that is very good, even though it has been cursed because of sin. It is a world that is full of beauty and wonder. It is a world that teems with life. I have enjoyed sunrises and sunsets that were magnificently beautiful. I have felt the awe of storms. I have felt the peace of blue skies and sunshine under the green canopy of trees. I have tasted the bounty of the earth, and I have gazed into the night sky with wonder. I have received good gifts.
God has revealed himself in the Bible. I have received the gift of wisdom that begins with reverence for God and humbly listens to his word. In the Bible I find a message that fills a void in my life. It is as if it is a missing puzzle piece that fills that hole and makes the puzzle complete. Now the world, and life, and values, and meaning make sense. I have received a good gift.
God has given his Son. The Word who knew the glories of heaven became flesh and dwelt among. He became human to save us from our sin. He learned suffering. He was tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. He died in our place, so that we might have forgiveness of sin and eternal life. I have received a good gift — a priceless and precious gift.
Love and gratitude should be the responses to good gifts. May we experience joy because with grateful hearts we recognize the gifts we have received. May we also learn to be like our heavenly Father and grow as givers of good gifts.