Every once in a while, I hear somebody say something that sounds right, but it really isn’t. I am particularly sensitive to this when it comes to Scripture and the way that people quote Bible verses. I don’t know that we mis-quote the Bible on purpose, but it’s just because people don’t know any better.
Have you ever read something in the Bible so many times that you just tend to glaze over or glance past the verse or chapter until you get to something less familiar? I know that I have. Or when you come to a passage of Scripture that just doesn’t seem to be important and so you skip over it? This usually happens with genealogies or some of the Old Testament books such as Numbers or Leviticus.
Let’s face it. Much of that is boring stuff and it is difficult to stay focused and pay attention to what the Bible is saying to us. We lose focus when we start to read about the Hittites, Amorites, Amalekites and all the other “ites”. Or when we read the about the size of the various tribes in Numbers? Does it really make any difference how big the families were? It doesn’t seem like it, does it? So we think we know what the Bible says, but sometimes we are wrong.
And then there is the New Testament. It tends to be more interesting and it is much more familiar to most of us. Nonetheless, we skip over parts of it that we have heard so many times before. Once again, it leaves room for mis-quoting God’s word. It was an issue like this that came to my attention last week. I was dealing with a non-profit organization and heard it said that when you care deeply about something, you will make it priority in your giving.
While this can be true, it doesn’t necessarily happen that way. For example, there are loads of people who attend church but don’t feel compelled to give. Something like 50% of people who go to church don’t donate at all. And the old 80/20 rule tends to be in effect here as well. Twenty percent of the people tend to give eighty percent of the budget to run most churches.
And many groups try to get us interested in their mission so we will eventually feel compelled to give. This isn’t the way the Bible tells us to do it, however. In fact, the Bible is quite clear that we are to give first – according to that which is important to God; and then our hearts will follow. Sometimes, this is called the “upside down” kingdom. The way that Jesus taught us to do things is much different than the way that we, as humans, tend to approach things.
So what about this idea of giving money first – depending on the Scriptural promise that our hearts will follow. Sometimes, I get a little concerned that if I give to something, maybe my heart won’t follow and I will believe that I have made a mistake. Of course, that tends to stop me in my tracks about giving to stuff that I am not convinced that I will care about in the future.
But each time I reach out and take a chance, I am not disappointed. I follow my instincts – leaning on God, caring about what He cares about. And you know what? My heart inevitably follows and I feel good inside. But it is important that I take that step of faith and get out of my comfort zone.
Our verse for tonight affirms the fact that Jesus wants us to take care of those among us who are less fortunate and have real needs. And He tells us that we are to give our treasure first, and then our heart will follow. Doctor Luke tells us the words of Jesus Himself, in Luke 12:33-34, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Did you catch it? Where your TREASURE is, your HEART will be there also – it will follow. We are to lead with our treasure and then we will develop passion for what we are already financially committed to. My encouragement this evening is that Jesus has faith in us that if we follow His lead, we will help the kingdom of God while feeling great about ourselves in the process. My prayer is that we will all trust Jesus and give generously to His missions – and know that our hearts will follow! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…