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The Reason I Give

by Chris Dewelt

(Copied from One Body Magazine)

 

Many years ago, I heard an offering meditation that gave me pause.  “Lay not up for yourself treasure on earth where moth and rust doth corrupt and thieves break through and steal.”  The man giving the offering meditation continued quoting Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount. Then he concluded his own thoughts with a startling statement. “So, when you put money in the offering plate, instead of putting money in an earthly bank, you are in fact putting your treasure in heaven so that they can build you a really great mansion!”

Wow. Don’t go to the bank on that claim!

Years later I was studying the subject of the “burnt offering” in the Old Testament. I had known the nature and significance of these offerings, but something struck me that I had not seen before. I was well aware of the ceremonial significance of the sacrifice system, but what I had missed was the economic implication of such a gift.
To burn up the bull, likely the best bull, of a herd is more than a ritualistic gesture. It was a move that required faith. If you put such a step in the economic plan for animal husbandry, it would be considered to be absurd!

And yet it is precisely what God had commanded His people to do. Then I noticed that the aroma of the sacrifice was “pleasing to the Lord:’ In fact, in the book of Leviticus, there are 16 such references to how the smell of the burnt offering was pleasing to God. This goes back to pre-Mosaic times when the aroma of the burnt offering of Noah was pleasing to God (Genesis 8:21). Why would the smell of burnt meat be pleasing to God? Was this an early form of barbeque? No, it was not the smell of the sacrifice. It was the action – and the action was one of total and complete sacrifice.

The burnt offering was not an act of food preparation, rather it was an act of soul prostration. It was complete self-abnegation. It was worship. The idea of taking one of the fundamental parts of your economic plan and setting it on fire until nothing of benefit remains to anyone, well, it made me think about why I give.

What if you went to church next Sunday and after gathering a small crowd around yourself, you took out a $lOO-dollar bill, and then, in front of them all, you set it on fire? What do you think would happen? I dare say there would be a strong reaction from the observers.

The very words from the Sermon on the Mount to not lay up treasure on earth forcefully teaches the necessity of giving.

There are many reasons to give. I give because Jesus tells me to give. His words are filled with compelling commands and strong examples to do so. The very words from the Sermon on the Mount to not lay-up treasure on earth forcefully teaches the necessity of giving. What will you do with your treasures, if you do not lay them up on earth? You will give them away.

But the basic and, in my opinion, most Significant reason that I give is because it teaches me to be unselfish. I need to give if only for the sake of giving itself. This is not only listening to Jesus’ voice, but this is looking at His example. It is following Him.

 

                Chris DeWelt serves as Director of Intercultural Studies at Ozark     

                                                                                 Christian College, Joplin, MO.




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That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10