Money is the easy part, sometimes. We all have our challenges. Mine is time. Often, it’s easier for me to write a check than to give of myself, to give a piece of my heart, by making the sacrifice of time.
This hit home recently when a church workday popped up on the calendar…
As is our custom, prior to Lent and Advent, we ready God’s house for celebration. My thoughts around the church workday have always sounded like this: “I give to the church in many ways but cleaning is not my gift”, “I don’t clean my own house; why should I clean the church?” “What if I hire someone to clean instead?” and the ever popular, “I’m too busy”. These are not thoughts I’m proud of but the struggle is real. As God started changing my heart toward generosity, suddenly, my justification attempts weren’t working. I was feeling guilty. Why couldn’t I simply hire my housekeeper to attend the workday? Wouldn’t my church family appreciate the professional help? Wouldn’t God like that? Somehow it didn’t feel right and I started asking, why?
We all have the same 24 hours. Time is a limited resource requiring choices, even sacrifice. Is sacrifice important to God? Does He call us to make sacrifices?
The answer seemed to be in the story of the widow’s offering:
Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-4 (ESV)
Jesus’ distinction between the rich, giving from their abundance and the widow, giving from her lack, make His desire for our sacrifice unmistakable. The widow gave from her heart.
The example of the widow is striking but it pales in comparison to the example set by Jesus. His incomprehensible love, which led Him to death on a cross, is the epitome of generosity and sacrifice. Jesus made this ultimate sacrifice for me and he calls me to do the same:
Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. 1 John 2:6 NIV
How can I not respond? How can I not return a bit of a Saturday morning for the one who gave me life? Now, the question and the struggle become ridiculous, don’t they?
Did I attend the church workday? Yes! I had no choice. I stepped through the doors, uncertain and apprehensive, but God generously provided me with a heart ready to serve. What did I find? I found acceptance and community with my church family and people, equally busy, cheerfully sacrificing for the one who gave it all. Maybe that’s what God intended all along.
Where is generosity the most difficult for you? Do you have a story when you’ve answered God’s call to sacrifice? I’d love to hear it. Is God currently calling you to make a sacrifice and you’re not ready? I’d love to talk with you about it and wrestle through it together.