What’s In Your Offering?

gift wrapped with bow
Photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/wtlphotos/3111558481/">Dr. Wendy Longo</a>

Malachi 3:8-12

“So you think you can rob God? You think I’m fooled so easily? ‘We’d never do such a thing!’ you say. And yet your charitable contributions and your gifts are empty. Damn the whole lot of you for robbing me. Bring something really worthwhile to my house. If you’re going to bring a gift of food, at least make it something edible. Go ahead, try it! See if I won’t rain down blessing on you. I’ll turn away the locust swarm, so your harvest will be rich. I’ll make sure your vines won’t wilt,” God says.

“Then everyone will say how lucky you are because of how wonderful your land is,” says God.

There’s something to be said for the old saying that if something is worth doing it’s worth doing right.

Especially if you’re doing something for someone. You can’t expect much appreciation for something done with a grudge, or done only half way.

If what you’re offering to someone as a gift isn’t really the best you have to offer, don’t expect them to treasure it.

Most people can see right through a gift insincerely given. Most people can tell when you’re just phoning it in, when your heart’s not really in your work, when you’re putting in time but not putting in the passion. And if most people can tell, any God worth talking about can tell, too.

When you’re putting your passion into your work, and when you’re doing your work as a real offering of love to the world – whatever that work is, whatever service you offer – that’s when things start to move. That’s when people start to come together around your mission. That’s when putting in the effort starts to pay off.

Not to mention, that’s when you will find that in spite of it’s being the hardest work you’ll ever do, it’s the work that will bring you the most happiness.

Give to Live

Man sitting in sunlight
Photo credit: <a href="www.flickr.com/photos/maewe/4496638698/">maewe</a>

1 John 3:11-17

From the beginning, the message you heard was to love each other. Don’t be like Cain who murdered his brother. He was from the devil. Why did he kill his brother? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s were good.

Don’t be surprised if the world hates you, friends. We know we’ve come alive from the dead because we love each other. Those who don’t love are the living dead. Those who hate their siblings are murderers, and murderers won’t live forever.

Here’s how we know what love is: he sacrificed his life for us. We likewise need to sacrifice our lives for each other. When someone has the wherewithal and yet refuses to help a friend in need, tell me where’s God’s love in that?

What we’re talking about here is envy and sacrifice. Envy is the kind of hatred that is evoked when you don’t have what someone else does. It’s the opposite of sacrifice, the kind of love that is expressed in giving away what you have to fill another’s need.

The first transaction leads from life to death. The second leads from death to life. Yet another paradox. The more of life you give away the more you have, while the more of life you take the more you die.

And its not just for religious individuals. The same is true of businesses, even nations. The more generous they are, and the more magnanimous, the more they thrive. The more demanding and self-centered, the more they wither. Consider the difference, for example, between:

  • Southwest and US Airways
  • Finland and South Korea

It probably even works that way for churches.