Summary: Giving all we have to God through Jesus Christ. We should give everything because it all belongs to God. And we should give gladly.
I read an alarming statistic. Annually, Americans spend more on dog food than on church contributions. We may want to review some priorities.
I also read, “It’s not how much of my money will I give to God, but how much of God’s money will I keep for myself.”
The foundation of our faith is in giving. If we strive to be just like Christ, we must put the needs of others before our own wants and desires. When Jesus walked this earth He always put others first. It didn’t matter who they were, the weak, the strong, the poor, the non-religious, the heavy-burdened, Jesus was willing to give all He had to help. He always made time to listen and to pray with people. Think of all the people He touched in His short ministry on earth. He spent most of His time with the downcast. He healed multitudes and never used medicine. Whether He was with only one person or thousands, every encounter was a teaching moment. All of these people were hungry to seek the truth. They wanted to learn more about God and more about Jesus. Many were highly intelligent thinkers, but they wanted to know all they could about Jesus. He spent very little time with the Pharisees and Sadducees, the pious religious rulers of the day. Why do you think He didn’t spend more time with them? Because they knew it all already! They knew the law and they knew how to use it. They didn’t need Jesus and a band of fishermen to teach them anything. How could they? But deep down inside they knew there was something very different about Him, but their religion wouldn’t allow them to get close, with the exception of a small handful. Jesus was willing to give all He had to help, and I must ask, do we do the same?
The following words of Jesus are found in what is known as His ‘Sermon on the Mount.’ As I have mentioned before, we went to the site of this famous sermon when we were in Israel. The location is spectacular. From there you overlook the beautiful Sea of Galilee. You can look in the distance and see Magdalena and Nazareth to the south and you can find Capernaum to the north, the center of Jesus’ ministry around the Sea of Galilee. It is a beautiful hillside. But Jesus didn’t actually preach from the top of the hill, the mount if you will. He preached from the bottom, at sea level, preaching to the thousands sitting up on the hillside. There were no microphones or sound equipment in those days, but the wind carried His voice up so all could hear His message. So this sermon should actually be called ‘The Sermon on the Plain to the People on the Mount.’
This sermon is a masterpiece. He is teaching the exact opposite of what the Pharisees taught. He is preaching against the religious legalistic laws, and giving the people words of faith, hope and salvation. I am reading from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 6, verses 1-4: “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in Heaven.
So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”
Yes, the hypocrites have their reward, the praise of men and women who stand in awe before their very words, hanging on to each one as truth. But the hypocrites shut God out and seek adulation for themselves. They take the Glory away from God. But God honors those who do not boast of their helping of others. Quietly they seek to honor God and the teachings of Jesus. Quietly, without notice, without wanting recognition, without seeking personal Glory, we give of our time and of our money to help others.
This reminds me of another story found in both the Gospel of Mark and Luke. It is only a few verses in both Gospels, but the message is powerful. The ‘Widow’s Mite’ story has captivated audiences for centuries. Who was she, and what drove her to the temple that day?
The setting is on the temple mount opposite the treasury. This was during the final week of Jesus’ life, just a day or two before He was betrayed by Judas. He had made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem; He had already declared His Authority as the Son of God, had taught more from His parables and gave us the greatest commandments. And at this point Jesus is questioning and condemning the religious leaders. Listen to what He says at this point; “In His teaching He was saying; Beware of scribes who like to walk around in long robes, and like respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers; these will receive greater condemnation.”