Sunday, June 14th, 2015
Giving (Part 5)
Leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent...*
Matthew 5:24-26 (NASB)
What if our donations are distasteful? What if our offerings are obnoxious? What if our time in church is meaningless?** Such unsettling questions are seldom asked. Most ministries are hungry for our help.
Except God. He's hoping for our hearts. 'My son, give me your heart' (Proverbs 23:26).
Consider two directives:
1) In both Testaments, God's first Commandment is clear: 'You shall have no other Gods before Me' (Exodus 20:3). 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart' (Luke 10:27). No half-hearts, second-place or leftover offerings.
2) Jesus fulfilled God's Law, but He upped the ante. 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself' (Matthew 22:39). 'Love your enemies, bless those who curse you' (Matthew 5:44). No hatred, unresolved debts or lingering unforgiveness.
In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus tied God's forgiveness and blessings for us to our forgiveness and blessing of others. He underlined it in The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant.*** If we bear hatred in our hearts, if we have ongoing conflict, then we represent God poorly. Our gifts are unacceptable.****
Actors, models and talent for Christ: consider two conclusions:
1) By stepping beyond Christian and worldly idols, your heart is whole. It's whole by God, for God and to God in the Person of His Son: 'To the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved' (Ephesians 1:6).
2) By your stepping into the game of entertainment, you took the bet. His Hand is met. By It, Jesus lifts you onto the back of a dragon named media, so you can fly high in love, so you can broadcast His gifts, so others can win, like you.
To Be Continued...
* 'We ought carefully to preserve Christian love and peace with all our brethren; and if at any time there is a quarrel, we should confess our fault, humble ourselves to our brother, making or offering satisfaction for wrong done in word or deed: and we should do this quickly; because, till this is done, we are unfit for communion with God' (Matthew Henry's Commentary on Matthew 5:26): http://biblehub.com/commentaries/matthew/5-26.htm
** Amos 5:21-24: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=amos+5%3A21-24&version=NIV
*** The Lord's Prayer: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+6%3A8-14&version=NKJV
*** The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+18%3A21-35&version=NKJV
**** 1 John 4:20: http://biblehub.com/1_john/4-20.htm
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Giving series.