When we talk about giving, we often use the time-talent-treasure picture. Scripture talks about us serving by giving of our time to further the Gospel. It speaks about our talents and using our spiritual gifts and natural talents for the glory of God. Scripture talks much about our treasure, which includes our earthly possessions and our money, and we are challenged to use those for God’s glory too. Our use of each of these three aspects tells us a lot about what our hearts are set on and what we consider important.
As members of a local body of Christ, if you look around you, it is pretty clear that all three of these are important and necessary in order for the Gospel to be lived out in the church and taken to the community and the world. My heart, in the midst of our focus on giving, is for us to see that God desires us to “give” in all 3 areas. Just writing a check does not fulfill God’s call to us. But it is a very important part of what God calls us to do.
Psalm 50:10 (NLT) says, “God owns the cattle on a thousand hills.” He doesn’t “need” our money, but he asks us to give it to the local church, and to give it joyfully, cheerfully, and sacrificially. I grew up Catholic and my parents were told how much they needed to give weekly. But the church I attended when I first surrendered my life to Jesus said to pray and give. Writing those first checks was a hard thing to do. I already had use for that money; but as I have grown in love for Jesus, for his people, and for the church, it has become easier to do. Like most of you, I love stuff, and God continually reminds me, it’s only stuff, and it will all perish. What I give to God for Kingdom work will have eternal value. So I have asked God to lessen my love for earthly possessions and to increase my love for him and for eternal things. As He does that in my heart, giving becomes more joyful. I realize all the things I thought I needed were often getting in the way of my need for God and my desire to know him. When I was satisfied with stuff, I didn’t need God as much. As my satisfaction in God grows, I find I don’t need stuff as much. So I have asked God to let me hang on lightly to the things of the world. There’s a line in the song, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus that goes like this: “And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” That is my prayer for all of us.
Remembering that all I have materially, all my talents and skills, and all my time belongs to the Lord has changed my perspective. I no longer “have to” give, I “get to.” You and I have the privilege of giving to the God of the universe, so that His Church can spread the Gospel in all sorts of ways from teaching kids about Jesus on Sunday mornings, to providing furniture to the needy, to offering Gospel comfort to the hurting, to supporting members of this church who are called to share the Gospel in North Africa and Swaziland.
So I invite you to pray with me, asking God what giving joyfully and sacrificially looks like for you.