Summary: What determines the life of a gift?
What determines the life of a gift?
Three ways one can give:
1) Give to Get
2) Give to Reach Goal
3) Give to God
6 While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper,
7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.
8 When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. "Why this waste?" they asked.
9 "This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor."
10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me.
11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.
12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.
13 I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."
1) Give to Get
At this level, one hopes to get back at least what one put in. After all, didn’t Jesus say…
38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
The Old Testament promises return on our gift investment:
10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. (NIV)
Isn’t it reasonable that we should give in the hope of receiving something in return?
Yes, but this is only one level of giving. Jesus also gave warning that when one gives at this level, one should not be surprised at the return:
1 "Be careful not to do your ’acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
John’s eyewitness account highlights this kind of giving. Perhaps this was the level of giving in the mind of Judas.
1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him.
3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected,
5 "Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages."
6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
God will accept your gift on this level, but do not be surprised when He convicts you for your selfishness!
2) Give to Reach the Goal
This is giving based on custom or tradition. In Jesus’ day, custom called for a servant to pour a few drops of perfume on the head of the honored guest at the party. Isn’t a few drops enough? Why do I have to do more than I have done in the past? Let everyone do their part and we’ll get the job done. That was the plan behind Paul’s instruction to the folks at Corinth. There was a great need elsewhere so Paul told them:
2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.
Since we have a goal set before, should we not give in hopes of reaching the goal? Once again, another eyewitness, Mark, shows us a little different perspective:
3 While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.