[Jesus said,]â€œSo donâ€™t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.
Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.â€ Â Â Â Â Luke 12:32-34 (NLT)
I have seen several movies of pirates in pursuit of sunken treasure chests. The adventure, danger, and romantic subplots make for a good afternoon with buttered popcorn and Milk Duds. And so I ask myself today what treasure would I pursue with the same intensity as a pirate after a chest of jewels? Would it be more attractive if it were a foot locker filled with nicely stacked $100 bills? Enough that I would never again have to wonder how to pay my power bill or when I would next be able to visit my children? That line of question tells me that it is not money in and of itself that I set as treasure but what can be done with the money.
Jesus says that I don’t need â€œstuffâ€ or possessions. I want to consider His statement and give it a modern overlay of reality and wisdom so I can say that He didn’t really mean what He said.
â€œBut I need a roof over my head and food on the table, Jesus!â€ Most of us would say that we haven’t heard God tell us to sell all that we have and become itinerant disciples like Peter and Paul. For myself, I’m not sure that I wouldn’t do a really good job of convincing my mind and heart that I was hearing incorrectly if He did. So let’s say that God did not actually tell me to sell all and I have a home and all that I need. I’m not wealthy but I don’t have to struggle. The question then, I believe, is do I understand that what I have been give is not mine but it is a gift from God that He expects me to use to build His Kingdom? Is my home one of hospitality and used to lift up and encourage others? When opportunities come to me to give to those who are in need, do I give my â€œextraâ€ or do I give my all (Luke 21)? Maybe this Thanksgiving I could give a 20-lb turkey to someone in need and make do with a turkey breast at my table. Or invite a family to join me for dinner and send all the leftovers home with them and eat peanut butter myself for the next week.
â€œBut You want me to give to those in need so I have to make money to give money!â€ Why do I want money? Do I make money to have the 2200 square foot home and the new car every two years? Does God say that I need these to do what He has called me to do? Or is He pointing to a 1600 square foot home and used car and the money saved could help a village build a school or support a missionary for a year? Do I ask God with my ears open to really hear? If I’m honest, not always.
â€œI tithe. I give offerings. That’s more than most people do.â€ I have never thought of myself as wealthy. I have had a job since I was 16 and have never lived extravagantly like the Kardashians. But I have always given to others without a conscious thought that I would be making a sacrifice. I remember a scene from Louisa Alcott’s Little Women: The daughters are excited to awaken on Christmas morning to find sausages, fresh baked bread, butter and jam on their breakfast table. Not an extravagant breakfast but they are told that their mother went to help a widow with five small children who live in a nearby shack. The girls reluctantly make the decision to give their breakfast to this family. It is a sacrifice because now they will be fasting. Have you ever done something like this? I have to wonder if I have missed a great treasure, a blessing.
What are the treasures in my heart? Am I asking God to open my eyes and heart to opportunities to bless others? Do I understand that I have much more than I need? Am I afraid that if I do not fill my barns with plenty of grain that there will be a time of famine that God will not provide for me?
[Jesus said in a parable,] â€œThen he said, â€˜I know! Iâ€™ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then Iâ€™ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And Iâ€™ll sit back and say to myself, â€œMy friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!â€™
But God said to him, â€˜You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?â€™
Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.â€ Â Â Â Â Â Luke 12:18-21 (NLT)
Each of us has a relationship with our LORD. Each of us has been given a path to follow and a mission in His Kingdom. Paul said we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12-14). He means not to be afraid of â€œmessing upâ€ but to be open to do God’s will, not our own. To want God’s way more than our own.
Thanksgiving and Christmas. Seasons of giving. Let us give, not out of our â€œextraâ€ and because it is the â€œrightâ€ thing. But let us open our minds and heart to the leading of God’s Spirit as He gives us the opportunity to give with both hands and so find the eternal treasure that Jesus spoke. And maybe, when December 26 comes, we will find that we want to keep right on giving, knowing we really can not out-give Him!
Give Thanks written by Henry Smith (1978) and sung by Don Moen