Almost every single one of us struggles and searches for the grand meaning to our lives. Victor Frankel’s memoir about life in a Nazi concentration camp is titled Man’s Search for Meaning. Even there he recognized the human need to find purpose and meaning behind the experiences of life. For some of us our meaning is found in the power to accumulate possessions and wealth or the freedom to do what we want when we want. Our abundance of freedom and possessions becomes a vehicle for us to gain recognition and praise from others. But for others of us, we believe that real joy in life comes from honoring God, not ourselves. This is achieved by giving, no accumulation. The hope is that each of us might heed God’s invitation to be people who give and who do so in quiet humility. It is a journey that can help us become followers whose prayers and gifts honor and glorify God, not ourselves. I pray that these readings might be a guide on this journey.
Monday: read Romans 4:19-21
God included Abraham and Sarah in God’s big plans for the salvation of the world. Certainly God could have accomplished God’s plans without them, but God didn’t. God wanted them to know what it was to participate in plans and events bigger than themselves. God desires that for us as well. Are you participating in anything God is doing that’s bigger than you?
Tuesday: read Matthew 6:1-4
Each of us likes to be recognized and praised for doing a good job. We anticipate and expect an excellent review, a merit increase and/or bonus as our reward for our efforts. But when it comes to participating in God’s work, we must resist these needs, urges and expectations. When we get the pat on the back, then God is forgotten; the credit is misplaced. Jesus counsels us to give in secret so that we aren’t wrongly praised for our gifts. What is your motivation for giving? To be praised or to give praise to God?
Wednesday: read Matthew 6:5
One of our greatest fears today is public speaking. This fear is especially evident when someone is asked to pray in public. But in other religious activities, we may fall prey to the tendency to put the focus on ourselves. Jesus links treasure and prayer together in his sermon; we should come to recognize that these two things go together because they are inseparable. Could it be that the more we humbly and quietly pray, the more we can be led by God to give and give generously?
Thursday: read Matthew 19:21-22
Think about the time you spend each week; how much of it is absorbed in getting more stuff or maintaining the stuff you have? Is it minutes, hours or days? Now, how much time last week did you spend laughing, dancing, hugging, and praying? Jesus said that our stuff is a roadblock to living, giving, and being connected to God and each other. So, Jesus said get rid of the roadblock. What’s keeping us from following Jesus advice?
Friday: read Malachi 3:10
The prophet speaking for God issues a challenge to the people – test God by giving and see if there isn’t enough left over. A few of us can’t imagine giving much let alone ten percent – there isn’t “enough” for that. Maybe we need to re-open our eyes to our spending habits. Try collecting your receipts for one week and then put them into two categories: necessary and not necessary spending. Total the “not necessary” stack and see what percent it is of income and spending. What if you took the money spent on the “unnecessary” and gave it to God? You’d still have “enough” for the necessary, wouldn’t you?
Saturday: read I Corinthians 10:31
Our city is filled with people hoping to someday see a ticker tape parade. They want to experience the excitement of celebratory sounds and fluttering confetti; to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Actually giving is supposed to be just as exciting. The offering plate certainly isn’t passed to the sound of a marching band, air cannons and fluttering pieces of paper, but it’s just as momentous! Why? Because we are giving and participating in the greatest thing in life and on earth – God’s work! So whatever you do this week, offer it to God and do it for God’s glory.