Joyful Thanks Living - Bible study
part 3 of 10
Give Me Your Heart
2 Corinthians 12
2 Corinthians 12:14 (NIV 1984)
“What I want is not your possessions but you.”
Give Me Your Heart
The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth, “What I want is not your possessions but you.” God tells us the same thing throughout Scripture. Our heavenly Father implores us, “My son, give me your heart.” (Proverbs 23:26). To those who were NOT giving God their hearts, Jesus quoted Isaiah, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain.” (Matthew 15:8-9)
Why We Give
Why do we give offerings of money to Good Shepherd’s? Our offerings are used to pay Good Shepherd’s expenses, but that should NOT be the primary reason we give those offerings. Through offerings given joyfully out of love for God, we tell God that he is more important to us than our possessions.
Pastor Jeske puts it this way: “The offerings that bring joy to the heart of a Father are the ones brought as tokens that we have surrendered our heart to him. ‘My son, give me your heart,’ the Spirit asks (Pr 23:26). It’s possible to bring a gift of hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and yet withhold the gift that your God wants most.” (Jeske page 13. Pastor Jeske, a retired seminary professor, has taught several Bible classes at Good Shepherd’s. He is the father-in-law of our former staff minister, Hans Metzger.)
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.
43 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. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
God Looks at the Giver, Not the Gift
Offerings given for the wrong reason do not impress God. As we saw last week, God does not need our offerings. God will carry out his work with us or without us. Even if Good Shepherd’s were to close due to lack of offerings, God would use other means to accomplish his plans.
Jesus praised a poor widow who gave out of love for God. Her tiny gift was worth more than the very large gifts, because she gave from her heart.
God does not just look at WHAT we do, but WHY we do it. In Proverbs 16:2 God tells us, “All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord.” This applies to our offerings too. God looks at our motive for giving.
Giving Ourselves to God
“Why did Jesus say that her gift was ‘more … than all the others’? Unlike the rich, who had more than enough left over, she gave all she had. This was an act of worship, love, faith, and absolute trust. Finally, that is what it means to be a disciple.”
“The Lord measures our gifts by the spirit in which they are given. He does not with these words ask us to empty our bank accounts, but he invites us to give him ourselves. Then our gifts to his treasury will also be liberal, and our lives will become lives of true stewardship.” (People’s Bible pages 178-179)
Jesus Gave Himself for Us
“This event [the widow’s offering] is particularly thrilling because we know the rest of the story. This was Jesus’ last visit to the temple. From there he went forward to offer himself—all that he is—on the cross to pay the price we could not pay, to make the contribution we could not make. On Good Friday he paid the entire debt and for the moment became even poorer than this poor widow.” (People’s Bible page 179)
Pastor Jeske emphasizes that our offerings to God are primarily a “spiritual transaction,” instead of a “financial transaction,” and that “Your Creator and Redeemer is always after your heart, not primarily your hand.” (Jeske pages 13 + 18).
Should We Give Till It Hurts?
“We have to remember that for the Christian in us (new man) there is no pain in giving. ‘He delights in the law of the Lord’ (Psalm 1:2), including that law which guides our Christian giving. He rejoices with those who say, ‘Let us go up to the house of the Lord (Psalm 122:1)—and give a generous offering to our God.’ The only one who winces when we give a gift to the Lord is our sinful nature. He is not happy even when we give our scraps and plate scrapings.” (Schuetze page 1)
Christian Money Management
“When I hear someone give me the impression that I need to give until it hurts, I am left wondering what should hurt. Should I hurt my family to give to the Lord? Should I give less to the poor? Should I sell my newer car and get an older one and feel the ‘hurt’ of added repair bills or a bumpy road?”
“Rather we should be talking about how we manage all of God's blessings faithfully. We are giving glory to God and honoring him with our wealth when we provide for the needs of our family. It is a responsibility God places before us (1 Timothy 5:8). The same is true when we give to the poor and needy (Ephesians 4:28), or pay our taxes (Romans 13:6,7).”
“The issue here is not that we need to ‘hurt’ one area so that we can help another area. The issue is our management in all areas.
Does our management as a whole give glory to God? Does the amount we spend on family or personal needs and desires reflect a selfish heart or a heart that is seeking to glorify God?”
“…Yet the truth is that all areas of life are spiritual. All is done to the glory of God. All is given to the Lord. We need to evaluate how we spend all of our money, time, and abilities, recognizing that God asks us to give his work a priority in our overall management of things.” (Schuetze page 1)
Let Us Pray:
Father, let me dedicate
All this year to you,
In what-e’er my earthly state,
In what-e’er I do.
Not from sorrow, pain, or care
Freedom dare I claim;
This alone shall be my prayer:
Glorify your name. Amen.
(Christian Worship 75 verse 1; public domain)
For additional study read: “The People’s Bible – Mark”
pages 172-179. (Mark 12:28-44)
Jeske, John (1986, revised 1994). Christian Stewardship Is Taking God At His Word. Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Library On-line Essay File accessed March 30, 2011, www.wlsessays.net/files/JeskeChristian.pdf
Schuetze, John D. (2007). Doctrinal Brief: Sacrificial Giving. Vol. 104 #1 Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly. Journal edited by Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary.
Wicke, H. E. (2001). Mark. The People's Bible (2nd ed.). Northwestern Publishing House.