Giving Part 1: Personal best.

Thu, 01/03/2012 - 15:13

Can you think of a time when you set an impressive ‘Personal Best’? Some of my friends run the Brighton Marathon each year and - whether they broadcast it or not - their primary aim is to beat their ‘PB’. Yes, competition is deeply ingrained in human beings, even (or maybe especially,) when that competition is against yourself. For the Christian this can be problematic. Here is a live example: I know the greatest amount I have ever given in a Gift Day. I know that there is a March Gift Day just around the corner. I also know how much money I’ve got in my bank account, how much my house costs me, how much my car has cost me this month, and when my wife and daughter’s birthdays are (February and January in case you were wondering.) 

What unites the two thoughts above? Well, here is a confession: Sometimes it crosses my mind that if I can’t beat my Gift Day ‘PB’ then I can’t compete. My reasoning goes a bit like this - “Last time I was able to give hundreds, maybe thousands of pounds. Now, doesn’t the fifty, twenty, ten quid, or whatever, that I am able to give this time can seem a little insignificant?” It’s this line of thinking that has sometimes falsely convinced me that there’s no point even giving ‘this time round’. All because I couldn’t match or beat my PB. What a horribly proud reaction, eh?! So, what are a couple of ways that believers can meet these thoughts with the guidance of God’s truth?
1. Firstly, remember that “man looks on the outward appearance but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7) This is especially helpful if you replace ‘man’ in the the above quotation with your own name - try it! Essentially, God is concerned with your motive in giving and not primarily the amount. Jesus echoes this in his observation of the sacrificial giving displayed by a poor widow (Mark 12:41-44) We might look at our own ‘outward appearance’ to take our spiritual temperature but that isn’t God’s method.
2. Secondly, remember that God says ‘the silver is mine and the gold is mine’ (Haggai 2:8) In other words, whatever our subjective judgment of the value of a ‘thing’, God owns every thing! Our role is that of a steward and Jesus shows us in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) that stingy stewardship flows directly out of a faulty understanding of who God is (viz. that He is a ‘hard’ master and not gracious.) Knowing that He is Faithful gives us faith to give our money courageously to His church.
So whatever you are giving this time around, whether it beats your PB or not, know that God is fully delighted in all of His children all of the time. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, the Father sees you as perfect as Jesus is because you are ‘in Christ’ (Ephesians 1:4-6) The fact of that kind of commendation and security alone should free us from the need to compete on the world’s terms. We have been declared qualified to the utmost by the only Judge whose assessment actually matters! So let’s give our money to this gift day as God has given each of us the means and the faith to do right now and enjoy partnering with Him in this great mission.

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