“…The Lord commanded saying: ‘Take from among you an offering to the Lord, Whoever is willing of heart…..'”  Exodus 35:5

“…and they spoke to Moses saying, ‘They bring much more than enough for the service of the work which the Lord commanded us to do.'”  Exodus 36:6

Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul….And great grace was upon them all….all who had possessions of land or houses sold them and brought the proceeds and laid them at the apostles feet”  Acts 5:32,33

“So let each one give as he proposes in his heart…..for God loves a cheerful giver.”  2 Corinthians 9:7

So????? How much is enough (OH NO, You Scream, not one of these type postings!  guilt, shame, derision)?  No sir.  No ma’am.  Not this post.

I have been humbled and privileged to work in several leadership positions in various churches I have belonged to.  One of the overriding concerns and dare I say it (yes I will), worries that each of those churches have had revolves around giving.  The members never give enough to meet the budget so ways need to be found to cajole, beg, plead, guilt them into giving more.  God Sighs!  And I believe God sighs as much as at the church leadership as He does at the congregation, if not more.

Over and over and over again in the bible, there are times of need.  The Israelites need a special place to worship God (the tabernacle).  These Israelites should have been the poorest of the poor for they were slaves rushed out of Egypt by the Egyptians.  Yet by the GRACE of GOD, the Egyptians had given them incredible wealth in gold and silver.  So much in fact that when it came time to give to the building of the tabernacle, it was not a commandment for all to give.  God only wanted the offerings from those who had a willing heart.  Now imagine this, so many gave so much, that the builders had to ask Moses to make them stop.

In another story, Ruth is poor and worse than that she is a widow from a foreign land.  There is no person or family to which she can turn for help.  If that wasn’t bad enough, she was responsible for another person, her mother-in-law Naomi, who was too old to help with provision.  Ruth touched the heart of a rich man, Boaz, who commanded that grain would be purposely left for her so that she had more than she needed.

Now we come to when Jesus Christ died and was resurrected.  The church is growing by thousands in a day.  The people who are joining the church come from all aspects of society.  There are those who are poor and widowed.  There are those who are wealthy with lands, houses and property.  Please, please, please notice this; Peter makes no booming command or great oratory about the needy.  Neither John nor James present a tablet said to be the writing of Christ calling upon all to give.  No, what the Book of Acts tells us is that the apostles were giving witness to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It tells us that they were of one heart and one soul and that great grace was upon all of them.  There was no forcing, no lamenting, no guilting.  It started and starts with Jesus Christ!

Dear brothers and sisters, there are really only two who know our hearts; ourselves and Our Heavenly Father.  Even then, we can deceive ourselves but Our Heavenly Father’s knowledge is perfect.  If I can not know your heart, how dare I make any judgement about you or your heart based upon something as trivial as money.  And lest there be any doubt; it seems to me that Jesus taught that money, especially large amounts should be considered trivial things when compared to what truly matters.

Also, dear brothers and sisters, the enemy does not want us to look into our hearts.  Satan wants us to covet and desperately hold on to our mortal possessions as if they are the most important things.  If we do give, the devil wants it to be out of pride and the desire for praise or out of fear of being judged by others.  He hopes that we will buy into a prevalent thought these days that as I give I should expect, I should plan on an even bigger financial reward as if giving to the Lord is some sort of investment scheme. Satan would love to see Jesus Christ’s church divided, worried, fearing for its very existence based on the want of money.  God forbid!

Finally dear brothers and sisters, clergy and lay leaders of churches; please quiet the voices of this world and listen to your heart. Feel, the Love, reach out and up for the Grace, pray for Guidance, Wisdom and Understanding.  There are those in need.  Don’t doubt that God is powerful enough to bring relief straight from heaven as He did manna so long ago.  Yet God has a greater plan in mind.  God wants to share the giving of blessings, wants to share the giving of love, wants us to experience the joy that He experiences in helping our fellow human beings.  It is through His generous desire to give us the opportunities to help, that He gives us the example of His heart.  So that by that example, we might be able to grow our hearts, which is among the greatest gift of all.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, as Alpha and Omega, it begins with you and it ends with you.  As Your Son Jesus Christ both taught and lived by example, give us a heart guided by You, longing for You, listening to only You.  Testify to us how You would have us give and through the Holy Spirit, give us hearts eager to respond.  Forgive us when we would judge others based on our own measurement about how much should be given.  We know that we will never be able to match the gifts that You have given us; especially Your Son, Our Savior Jesus Christ.  Yet let my giving, whatever the amount, be a connecting of my heart to Yours, Loving Father.  In the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord we pray.  Amen.