Jean confided, "I feel guilty about playing hookey from church and sleeping-in these past several weeks. Instead of going out with my friends Saturday night, I even stayed home and watched religious TV and then put twenty dollars in the plate on Sunday. Monday, I gave a homeless person money for lunch. Later, I helped my neighbor trim her bushes. Do you think God has forgiven me yet?"
Suppose a child brought pennies to their father as payment for being a good dad. The first time or two, the father would patiently explain that daddy's love is free. After that, there could be concern, hurt and even anger. Is seeking to earn or buy God's love through good works or grudging obedience, any different? People insult God and reject his love and truth with offers to work in exchange for love. God seeks those who worship him in Spirit and truth (John 4:23-24). Man has nothing to offer, but an honest, open, grateful heart. God will accept nothing less, and knows the difference!
Some religious organizations seem to ask for money, as often as they talk about God. But, Christians who already give generously from the heart, do so because they love God, not because they are badgered or manipulated. Others, who often give very little anywhere, use those poor examples to rationalize their unwillingness to part with their money. They complain that the church "begs for money" or uses guilt to motivate giving. Actually, they are being convicted by the Spirit for putting money ahead of God. Guilt is the most uncomfortable, when it rests where it belongs.
God challenges man to put Him ahead of the love of money (I Tim 6:10). He promises a great blessing to those who do (Mal 3:10), but gets few takers. Those to whom money is God, find many pretenses to conceal that truth, even from themselves. Money, however, is not the only thing that separates man from God. God wants us to submit everything to his Lordship, including time, talents, financial resources and even self. Many love themselves more than God.
God delights in blessing his childrenand desires a loving, living relationship with them. A True relationship is never one-sided. God established his love when he created man in his own image, as a free-will being. In return, mankind uses his free-will to choose sin and reject God. God further confirms his love by the gift of his only son's life on behalf of all who will accept his absolute forgiveness, love and eternal relationship (Rom 5:8, Mat 21:33-41). God loves every person infinitely more than one can imagine, and will never stop (I Cor 2:9,Rom 8:38-40). He does not love or bless one over another, but requires that each person individually determines how much of his love and grace they will accept. Those who reject Christ as their Savior, also reject God (Jn 14:6, I Jn 2:22-25, Mat 11:27).
Suppose God set up a 'blessing booth' in the center of town. Each week, everyone would go there to receive a weekly 'living' that was multiplied by the time, talents and finances they gave away during the previous week. Imagine how disappointed many would be by the tiny, token blessing they received in contrast to the abundant blessings of others. Many would conclude that God loved others more. When we keep the best for ourselves, we tell God that we love the world more than him. God is disappointed when we are unwilling to accept more of his freely given love and blessings,
Jean seeks to appease, rather than please God. She wants to exchange her pennies for God's approval. But, God has already freely given his love and forgiveness to all who will accept them, in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Neither pennies or even the wealth of the world can buy that wonderful, free treasure (Mat 16:26). Whatever we hold dearer than Christ, is what we must give up, if we are to truly follow him (Lk 9:24, Mat 10:37-38). (#815)