The Kingdom of God is neither a hedge fund nor a slot machine.
Several decades ago there was a church in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex led by a pastor who preached unconditional prosperity to those who donated generously to the church and his ministry.
On one occasion, my wife and I chanced to dine in a restaurant with a married couple from that church. When the check came, he looked apprehensively at his wife as he pulled a credit card from his wallet to pay the tab. In summary, I sensed the couple could not afford this act of generosity. The man was paying for our dinner together with borrowed money he may not have been able to repay to his creditor.
It became apparent to me the man was following a false notion of the Kingdom of God.
The Apostle Paul, writing in his second letter to the Christians in Corinth, said, “Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have.”
When did you last hear a sermon that incorporated this idea of giving ‘according to what you have, not what you don’t have’?
Jesus employed parables, short stories, to illustrate the Kingdom of God. One such story compared the planting of a mustard seed.
Then Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? How can I illustrate it? It is like a tiny mustard seed that a man planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree, and the birds make nests in its branches.” [Luke 13:18-19 NLT]
The farmer planted a seed that was in his possession. He was not borrowing from the local ‘seed bank’.
So, from what or whom did the farmer get that mustard seed to plant? I leave that ‘rabbit’ for you to chase on your own. Let’s stick to the point for now.
The point is simply this: Give from what you actually have. Abandon any notion of trying to impress God by adding debt to fund your pseudo-generosity.
One more story, this from the Old Testament, 1 Kings 17:7-16.
The prophet Elijah, hungry from his travels, visits a poor widow in an area called Zarephath. He asks food and water of the widow who explains how she had just enough for her son and herself. However, she obeyed Elijah, fed him, he rewarded her, she and her son prospered and you can read for yourself how she lived pretty much happily thereafter from 1 Kings 17:7-16.
Points to consider:
1-the widow was not a Jew.
2-Zaraphath was in the backyard of Elijah’s worst enemy
3-she gave from her meager food supplies, she did not buy food using a credit card that she would be unable repay when the monthly bill came in the mail.
Why did Elijah go to this poor widow for sustenance?
Why would a poor widow give a stranger food so desperately needed by her son and herself?
In both cases, it was the grace of God to which they yielded. What is grace? Let’s look to Philippians 2:13 for a definition:
For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
Grace is a two part gift from God. Part ‘A’ is a desire to act. Part ‘B’ is the power to fulfill part ‘A’.
Romans 8:14 says, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.”
Bottom Line: Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you. Meditate on the aforementioned Bible verses. Think not for a moment you can ‘bribe’ God into blessing you. As the prophet Samuel said to presumptuous King Saul, obedience is better than sacrifice.
When God’s grace acts within you to be generous, go ‘pedal to the metal’. You will truly find obedience to is refreshing.