Do you remember the story in Acts 5:1-11 about Ananias and his wife, Sapphira? I know it’s a heavy story to start this out with, but I want to draw something different from it. The whole issue is lying to the Holy Spirit, right? Yes, it involved money, but the chief complaint is dishonesty.
Here’s Ananias selling his fields but secretly keeping some of the funds for himself, rather than giving all of it to the church. Just before this in Acts 4:34-37, Barnabas sold a field he owned, brought all the proceeds, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. I’m assuming here, but Ananias probably saw the transaction and wanted to mirror the action.
But, Ananias had an issue…he had a selfish heart. He did not trust Christ with every penny he had. Instead, he hid some as a safety net for himself…you know, the “just in case” money. I don’t know about you, but when I compare my actions to those of Ananias, there’s more similarities than I’m comfortable with. When that tug comes from the Lord to slide some money somewhere or pay for another person’s food, I initiate this internal dialogue: Lord, is that You? Are You sure You want me to do that? But, I don’t have a lot of money, Lord. I’ll go a step further. If I’m in a drive-thru when the nudge happens, I’ll look in my rearview and say something in my spirit like Lord, they have a nice car. Surely, You’re not telling me to pay for their food, right?
I heard a pastor tell a story that applies here. He had a $5 bill in his wallet. After church one day, he felt the Lord tell him to give the $5 to a woman. So, in obedience, he did. The women cried and told him she didn’t have gas to get home, but God told her to go to church because He would provide. Beautiful, right? Well, the story doesn’t end there. This scenario happened again, but I can’t recall where he was when it happened. The second time, he had $100 bill in his wallet. This time, he didn’t take the nudge. He kept the money. He choked up and said he always wonders what he robbed that person of because he didn’t do what God asked him to do. Ouch! His moral of the story…do you have $5 obedience or $100 obedience?
You see, I’ve come to prefer being on the giving end of the transaction. It’s the look in a person’s eyes when I give something that makes my heart explode with joy! I don’t mean the joy we get from eating ice cream or watching a sappy movie, I mean Other-worldly joy! Even better than that is giving anonymously! That’s so fun! A few times, I’ve had the privilege of listening to the receiver talk about how much the money helped them! Again, the joy courses through my veins, but when it’s done without another soul on earth knowing, it’s this precious moment I get to experience with Jesus because it was secret––between Jesus and me! I cannot properly describe these kinds of moments with my earthly vernacular, but I can say I never feel as close to Christ than when I experience something secret with Him through what I did out of obedience. It’s magical!
I’m not perfect at this by any means, and if I’m honest, I’ve brushed off some nudges before. Who knows what would’ve happened had I followed through. I love how transparent John was about that $50. He’s right to say giving is all about the attitude. It’s enslaving when we give reluctantly--when we hand money to someone and we don’t want to let go. I wish I could look you in the eyes and verbally say this, but typed words will have to do. There is nothing under the sun better than Jesus…nothing! A close relationship with Him is worth more than all the money I could possibly have.
All of that to say this…this is hard. We live in a culture obsessed with material possessions. Cars, boats, houses, clothes, purses, manicures, pedicures, makeup, phones, jewelry, and status quo. It’s hard to go against the grain and sacrifice things in this life: to live obediently to Christ. I always imagine the golden roads, the mansion Jesus said He was building for me (John 14), and the crowns we receive upon arrival in heaven. More than that, I long to hear the seven words that will make all this worth it: “Well done, My good and faithful servant,” from the lips of my King! That’s our endgame! That’s what all this is for! Remember, this skin and bones is temporary--we don’t belong here! This is not our home! We’re merely passing through, trying to grow the Kingdom of God, bring as many people with us to Paradise as possible, and live out our Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth!
Giving is a heartfelt gesture of obedience to a giving God! John tied that back to John 3:16, and I feel like that scripture loses its profound meaning because it’s thrown around so often. Read this with fresh eyes and let it fall on you like you’ve never heard it before. “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” Oh, I have a lump in my throat! Over 2,000 years ago, God sent His Son from Heaven--to live a very meager life, might I add--to save us! Jesus lived in poverty (we can deduce this by Mary and Joseph’s sacrifice when Jesus was circumcised). How can we not give when we’ve been given so much?
This won’t happen overnight. We must be intentional about transforming our hearts to focus on Christ and eternal life more than this temporary home! Keep the throne room of God front and center in your mind! You’ll be there one day, and that, that’s where our reward comes from! Work toward that! Nothing in this life can compare to Heaven! Give with a joyful heart, expecting your eternal reward! Remember, store your treasures in Heaven, where neither moths nor rust destroy, and where thieves don’t break in and steal! (Matthew 6:20)
Posted on Sun, January 21, 2018
by Tiffany Gobble