Giving or Reconciliation?

“Leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” (Mat 5:24)

At work we have ample opportunity to have disagreements, arguments, and conflict. What is our priority in God’s view between making an offering to Him in giving or reconciliation with those we have crossed at work?

We are encouraged to first get our relationships straightened out and then come before God. Why is that? First, God is more into people than receiving an offering; they are much higher in His priorities. Second, He is more interested in our heart than our gift. When we seek restoration and reconciliation, we are moved to oppose pride, ego, and unhealthy attitudes. We are changed as we choose God’s way over our way.

Third, when we come to God with a clear conscience, we are much more likely to commune with Him and receive in faith what He has for us.

Quick Prayer: Bring to mind those with whom I need to be reconciled, and give me the strength and wisdom to act. Amen.

Openhanded

Open hand“There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.” (Deu 15:11)

I like words. I enjoy a word that perfectly describes what I am endeavoring to convey. Openhanded—what a wonderfully illustrative word that perfectly describes not only the physicality of a hand that gives but also a state of heart and even a lifestyle choice.

To live open handed is to live like Jesus—always ready to give, always ready to help, and always generous. Well, there is no other word for it—openhanded.

The opposite is just as demonstrable and also reflects not only the act but also the heart state behind the action: tight fisted. How would we best be described? Perhaps we are on the fence; maybe it is time to become more openhanded.

Quick Prayer: Make me openhanded. Amen.

Is Your Brother in Need?

“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” (Rom 12:13)

They say that charity begins at home, and it is very true. We are a part of the family of God, born into His family as we accepted the Father’s forgiveness and became sons and daughters of the King.

If we are now part of the family of God, we receive a multitude of promises and gifts that come with this honor and position. We also have responsibilities, just as we do in a natural family. We have a responsibility to help where we can, serve where we can, and give what we can.

We are called to share with the Lord’s people and to practice hospitality. What a great and right thing to do.

Quick Prayer: Open my eyes to the needs I am so blind to, Holy Spirit. Amen.

Don’t be a Burden

“Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.” (1 The 2:9)

Not being a burden to those we are ministering to goes well beyond the financial support often required by ministers and missionaries. We can be a burden if we ask for other obligations to be met or are unusually demanding or fussy.

Being pleasant and easy to talk with and having a kind and peaceful demeanor are all evidence of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. They are in contrast to that which brings a burden.

Those we are ministering to are those we work with—our bosses and colleagues and those we lead. Does the measure of what it means to be a burden still apply in the workplace? Yes it does, as our job is our pulpit, and our workplace our mission field.

Quick Prayer: I commit to working so I will not be a burden. Amen.

Family First

“Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Tim 5:8)

We have a responsibility for those around us. We are not isolated or insulated from the community into which God has positioned us. This is even more important when we consider our immediate family and relatives. How important does God consider our responsibility to provide for relatives? Could it really be more important than faith itself? Could that possibly be right? Read the Scripture in 1 Timothy 5:8 again.

There is not wriggle room in the Scripture. It is an outward sign that we are following Jesus. We have a God-given obligation to help our relatives and especially to provide for our immediate household.

I believe this responsibility goes beyond the financial and extends into the emotional, spiritual, and the all-important allocation of time and attention. That is a challenge to all of us with busy jobs and lives.

Quick Prayer: Remind me of my obligations, and bring family members in need to my attention. Amen.

What Is More Important?

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” (Mat 23:23)

There is a lot of chatter in churches about giving. If we were to be perfectly transparent with each other, it is usually by leaders who want you to give more and churchgoers looking to give less.

Is giving important? Yes it is, and it should not be neglected. But more important is justice, mercy, and faithfulness. These are the behaviors we should covet and endeavor to have in abundance.

Please give, and give regularly and generously, but never forget the priorities that are the fruit of a life transformed by Jesus: faithfulness, mercy, and justice.

Quick Prayer: Thank You for the pattern and discipline of regular giving. Amen.

 

Restitution.

“Or whatever it was they swore falsely about. They must make restitution in full, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the owner on the day they present their guilt offering.” (Lev 6:5)

We are not subject to the law. We have been released from its hold and are free. However, the wisdom and precepts still come from the heart of God.

While we receive forgiveness for what we do wrong and Jesus has paid the price for that, there are often consequences for our actions. We need to look beyond our forgiveness and endeavor to make restitution to those we have offended or harmed.

Our forgiveness is not in question or reliant on any restitution we may make, but taking the time to heal wounds and put right wrongs is worthwhile.

Quick Prayer: What do I need to put right, Lord? Amen.

Need Some Mercy?

“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (Pro 28:13)

One of the down sides of an omnipotent God is that He sees everything. We have nowhere to hide. In fact, He knows what we are going to do even before we do it. Every dumb, crazy thing we will choose to do between now and when we die He is already fully aware of. We cannot surprise Him in any way.

So if we fall, let’s not find a dark corner and have a pity party; let’s not get into condemnation, saying, “God can never use me.” Let’s not stop meeting with Him as we wallow in our own disappointment and pride.

God has already forgiven you. He provided full pardon at the cross for all the sins of all men for all time. It is finished. Confess your sin, receive God’s mercy, and move on.

Quick Prayer: Thank You for Your mercy, Jesus. Amen.