I have a confession to make. I do not give money well. I don’t give money well to Duck’s Unlimited, to Boy Scouts, or even to church. I don’t give my money well to these places and more, even though they have shaped who I am tremendously. I think that I don’t give money to these institutions well because I see myself as someone who is still primarily living off of student loans and don’t have a job that affords a lot of “extra” stuff right now, though I’ve managed to collect A LOT of extra stuff over the years.
Fortunately, our God is alive and active and has been actively working in my life. Specifically, He has been working in my life in the area of understanding the nature of giving and offerings this past week.
On Thursday I was able to help Lauren with her 4th and 5th grade youth group. On this afternoon we watched a video retelling the story of Jesus and the disciples in the temple with the widow and the rich people:
And He sat down opposite the treasurey, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.”
Jesus clearly judges the widows offering as greater than all the other contributions combined because the widow in her actions is declaring that the ministry of the Temple and God Himself is enough to supply her needs. She gave all that she had to live on and is fully trusting on God.
The second time this week when I was impressed upon by God was yesterday, teaching Sunday School. We have been trying to raise biblical literacy with our youth, and so yesterday we started looking at Genesis in detail. We eventually came to the point where we read the story of Cain and Abel:
So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brough of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard.
The question was raised as to why God favored one offering but not the other. Abel’s offering came from the best of the best of his flock. It represented many years of husbandry and care. Cain’s offering came from some of the fruit of the ground. We know that Cain was a “tiller of the soil,” but we don’t even know if the offering he brought was from his own crops, or simply from fruit trees or naturally grown grains that he just collected. Eventually, we came to the point of understanding that Abel’s offering represented great sacrifice, while Cain’s offering could have been something that was given out of his surplus. God looked upon Abel’s sacrificial offering with pleasure, but had no regards for Cain’s offering of surplus.
The Radical Life
God favors the sacrifice. So what is a sacrifice for you today? What is God calling you to sacrifice for Him? Living the radical life means placing God as top priority in all that we do. If there are things that we won’t give up for God, then they hold a place of higher priority in our lives. That is not radical, that is simply ordinary. God is calling us to invest in His work, His ministry, and relationship with Him. God is calling us to live radical, to make radical sacrifices, and be radical. It’s worth it. Step out in faith with me.