Wednesday, March 29, 2017

giving: sharing the joy of God's abundance

And you shall rejoice in all the good that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house, you, and the Levite, and the sojourner who is among you.
Deuteronomy 26:11

This command to rejoice in the great provision that God gave Israel was given to the nation by Moses in the wilderness as Israel prepared to enter Canaan and take the Promised Land. God commands that the nation settle into the inheritance and that in the first years on their farms they bring a tenth of their land's produce to the tabernacle. This "firstfruits" offering was to express gratitude to God for giving them such productive land. It was used to provide food for the priests and Levites and was also distributed to the poor and needy among the nation. It was a gift of worship meant to bring joy to the giver of the gift and many others along the way.

This gift of the tenth of the crops was a blessing in a basket. It came to the tabernacle where the Levites then distributed the food among themselves (it was their only wage) and out to sojourners and poor families such as widows and orphans who lived in Israel. It blessed broadly when given cheerfully. It brought joy to the giver and helped many. God's good blessings are meant to be shared. That's why Israel was commanded to make this gift.

And with that same joy, I should give today. When I bring my gift to the Lord through the church, I hope to share in the joy of seeing God's gracious provision for my family shared with others. I bless the pastors and staff whose living is made possible by joyful gifts. I bless the poor and needy as the gospel goes forward and the church helps others in need. And we all then rejoice in the goodness of our God! That is the way I want my heart to give... with a firstfruits kind of vision and joy.

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