12.15.2017 | by Patrick Voelker, Executive Administrator
Many people have a very difficult time with this topic. To some extent we’ve been trained to consider it as something private and personal, not to be talked about. It’s kind of like the unwritten rule that you don’t ask someone how much they make, or what did your house cost? But, ironically, we also place a high value on giving and generosity.
Of course, most of us think we give plenty, maybe even too much. Or we justify not giving, such as when we see the person on the corner and think, “they look capable of working, they should just get a job instead of looking for a handout.”
This doesn’t really take into account all the things that has brought that person to that place they now find themselves in. But giving really isn’t about where we are putting our funds, our resources, it is about the person doing the giving.
You see, most of us think our giving should always solve whatever it is we are giving for, but that’s just not the case. This is where following Jesus turns everything upside down. Jesus tells that, “For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me.” (Matthew 26:11) Our giving may not always solve a situation, but we are still called to give.
We also many times distort the way we look at giving. Even when we say “give” it helps us think we are taking something that is ours and we are giving it away. But for the follower of Jesus that just is not the case. Jesus teaches clearly that anything we “have” is not ours.
When He was being questioned by the Jewish religious leaders who were trying to trap him they asked; “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?”
But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.
Jesus also gave us the following example; As he stood in the Temple, he was watching the rich tossing their gifts into the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small copper coins. “Really,” he remarked, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them combined. For they have given a little of what they didn’t need, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.
What we learn is how we treat and view that which we have is more important than how much or how little we have. Jesus is teaching that when we follow Him, everything belongs to Him, we are merely His caretakers of things and money. The key question is: Is that how you look at all you have in both your mind and your heart? This is truly a tough question for each of us.
Our lives are transformed by Jesus, and that transformation is visible not only on the inside, but how we then act and live. I’ve heard it said that if you want to see if someone is transformed by their faith in Jesus, just ask to see their checkbook! (or today their credit or debit card statements)
This time of year is always a great time for each of us to examine this area of our lives. Let’s together all take a deep look. Changes we make may surprise each of us with the transformation and joy that results.