“And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive as much back; what credit is that to you?  Luke 6:34

“Give and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom”  Luke 6:38

Our Heavenly father sees.  That statement is often used in many different contexts.  In one way it is used about seeing our sin.  Even if we are able to hide our sin from the rest of the world; God will see it.  That is true.  In another way it is about seeing our distresses.  Even if the world ignores our pain or worse yet laughs at it, we know that God will see it and never forsake us.  That again is very true, very comforting.

Today, though, I would like to discuss His seeing in the context of us wanting to be seen; seen for what we do.  The world that denies God’s presence and influence appears to primarily be about obtaining; getting.  I wouldn’t call it a tradition but more a process, however, growing up we would always stop and watch the evening news.  There are many things I remember, space race, arms race; political scandals, generation gap, civil rights, women’s rights, wars; just to name a few.  What I also remember was that normally, if financial news was covered at all, it was a daily few second review of what happened on the stock market.  Today, we have news channels dedicated, 24-7, to finances and the acquiring of wealth.  And, its not just money, it is about acquiring cars, houses, electronics, clothes, food, drugs, and on and on.

We are well aware of the warnings that Christ has given to us about the accumulation of things and that is not what I want to truly focus on.  Let’s talk giving.  The two passages above come at the time that Jesus is giving his perhaps clearest teachings to the masses; from the gospel of Matthew, it is commonly known as the sermon on the mount.  It starts with the wonderful beatitudes.  Most of this entire message is filled with ways and things that seemingly turn the world up side down. The poor are blessed.  We should love our enemies.  We should lend/give with no thought of return.

How is that?  Come again?  I have need of ten dollars and you give it to me and never again mention it or try and get it back?  Okay, I see what is happening.  I will be in your debt, and therefore you will come to me at some point and ask for it back or ask for something else so that we are square.  Nope Jesus says.  Hmmm, okay, how about this, I will give the item; money, clothes a car and then I will tell everyone about it so that they can see how generous I am and pat me on the back and say good things about me.  Jesus tells us; if you do that, then don’t expect a reward from Your Heavenly Father; you have already received your reward.

A Hollywood depiction of this happens right at the end of the movie:  Field of Dreams.  I don’t know the faith aspect of the author of the story or those that made the movie; but I find a significant amount of spirituality in the movie and as such I recommend it.  But for those who don’t know about it, the hero, Ray, here’s a voice and see’s a vision telling him to do an absurd thing; which he does.  In tearing up his corn field, his source of income to put in a baseball field, his neighbors think he is crazy and eventually even his family comes to doubt him.  This same spirit asks and gives visions for several trips to help people along the way.  Each time Ray complies.  Then comes the kicker; right at the climax of the movie, one of the other characters is offered something Ray really wants and Ray goes off.  Ray says that he has done everything asked of him; helped all these people and not once asked “what’s in it for him”  but now he wants to know.  What we see at that point is that, although throughout the story as Ray does seemingly crazier and crazier things at the behest of the spirit, seemingly very unselfishly; in the end he has an expectation of a return.  And then comes the question on which the whole thing hinges:  “Ray is that why you did this, for you?”

So what are we to do?  First, we must open our eyes to need.  The world tries to marginalize need, minimize need to the extent that people are at fault for being in need and should find away to get themselves out of their need.  Jesus asks us not to judge, just to be open.  Then once we see a need; do what we can to help.  How much?  I don’t think it’s about totals or percentages, it is about what is on your heart.  But that will make me a patsy, a sucker, they’ll never stop coming.  There is probably some truth to that; there is much need in the world.  So, WHAT DO I GET OUT OF IT!?  If, through the Holy Spirit, we can find a way to not care about our direct reward; first and foremost we’ll see and receive true love.  Love in the way Our Heavenly Father sees love.  A love that would give the gift of His Son Jesus Christ and the Love of Christ that would accept the mission of death for us.  Secondly, we will certainly see that Our Heavenly Father sees.  Jesus Christ never made a promise that was not kept.  We will see good measure, pressed down and overflowing.

Oh by the way, in the movie, Ray gets a final reward.  A reward that exceeded his wildest imagination and that he was completely incapable of brining about on his own.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father; help to teach us that a gift truly isn’t a gift if there is an expectation of return.  Help us to Love as You Love.  To see need and freely give to satisfy that need.  May it be in our giving that we are trying to follow Your Example and our thoughts do not stray to expecting something in return.  Finally Dear Father, reveal to us that You do see and that You are pleased when we give in the way that you intended.  Help us to understand that our spirit of giving comes first and foremost from Your Example of Everlasting Giving.  That through our giving Your Most Holy Name will be praised.  In the name of Jesus Christ we pray.