Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44
I have yet another confession to make. Sigh… I am a number cruncher. I like to view various financial and ministry decisions from all angles, calculating probable outcomes and returns. While such planning and forethought are not evil or wrong in themselves, I have a tendency to sometimes put more faith in my calculator than in God. This is obviously not good!
I can only think of a few seasons in my life in which I have given and it was truly painful. In 2003 I was laid off from my job. Naturally, I sat down and started working on a plan to make our savings stretch to cover our expenses until I could find another job. When I came across the line item “Tithe” in our budget, I hesitated, forming reasons in my mind why we should be exempt from needing to put a number in that category when we had no income. But my heart burned in my chest. You know, that “I-know-this-is-the-Holy-Spirit-convicting-me-but-I-want-to-believe-it’s-just-acid-reflux” kind of feeling. Eventually, I put a number in the column. Writing those checks each month without a job hurt.
Through that season, however, God was teaching me about sacrifice, giving even when the cost seemed greater than I could pay. I was learning the way of Jesus during those months. Jesus faced paying the highest cost anyone could fathom, and only He was the one capable of paying the price required to redeem mankind. And even He struggled with the price tag, to the point of sweating drops of blood. (Luke 22:44) What gift have I ever sweat drops of blood over?
The heart of a true giver is one who understands there is a cost beyond money that is required. It is the cost of obedience and faith. God is a jealous God, not wanting to “share” us with anyone or anything that would harm or defile us (or profane His name). One of His expectations of us is to give. Period. He is on a mission to change our hearts from selfish takers to selfless givers. This won’t be pain free!
But the price we pay here in suffering well before God will reap a harvest of eternal blessings, the kind of stuff money could never buy. So, a big part of becoming a better giver is adopting an eternal perspective, seeing that the decisions we make now to “put in everything” will bring a smiling commendation from the One who once said, “Yes, I will go to the cross…and pay the ultimate price.”
What are you withholding in your giving? What are you “measuring” out to God? Take the scary, painful, but eternally rewarding step of “putting in everything” today!