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In a documentary a religious leader was asked what they believed the future of their people would be. This is what she said. “Everyone’s become materialistic, that’s what bothers me most. We do everything for money…if we don’t change what’s on the inside, spiritually, we’ll be finished.” (It may surprise you to hear the source of this quote) I share her concern simply because it has become so easy to perceive the work of the Church in worldly terms—i.e. a business. We are inundated with ads, pitches, spiels, and hype all designed to cause us to “feel the need” to purchase a product or service; to give to this or that charity. It’s easy to fall into what I call the “United Way attitude” that says, “Give your fair share”.
Hearing Christ directing our future is a matter of our willingness and a response to the presence of Christ in our life not a manipulated emotional reaction to some plea.
We see God’s perspective on our giving in the example of Israel. It was a universal command to the whole nation; but those who are required to answer are those who are willing. Six times in this passage a person’s willingness is expressed as a requirement for bringing a gift.
Their willingness doesn’t come from a sense of “have to” but from a reaction to what they experienced first hand. What makes Israel willing to give to God the riches that had been given to them was the fact that they weren’t giving to some unknown power or idea but to a personal God. A God who had touched them in important and significant ways. A God who had saved them. A God who had shown “saving” power first hand. They had seen the plagues strike Egypt. They had heard the wailing in the streets when the angel of God killed the first born of all of Egypt. They had seen how God had parted the sea and defeated their enemies. Then even knew that God was serious when he said you would worship me alone.
What they bring are the treasures they have brought with them from Egypt as well as the talents and gifts that had been given by God for them to use. Their gifts to God became a way to express thanks for what God had done—a way to honor God for who He was. They were clear that they were stewards rather than owners what they had.
Listen to this quote from a 1955 book on stewardship. "Stewardship of possessions is the effect of God’s saving grace upon one’s self
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