Posted by: pastortomvabeach | December 3, 2013

Thought For The Week December 8, 2013

I am currently reading a delightfully thought provoking little book entitled Plastic Donuts, with a sub-title Giving That Delights The Heart of The Father. I say “small” because it is physically small and only 115 pages. I recommend it as an easy and insightful read.

The author, Jeff Anderson, formerly vice president for generosity initiatives with Crown Financial Ministries, founded and currently leads an organization named Acceptable Gift, and that is the topic of his little book. I want to give you some of the ideas I’ve found to be challenging as I read in the next couple of “thoughts’. Anderson describes the book as “a message about the power of gifts, the way we give, and who we give to,” and aims to help us see God’s perspective on giving rather than our own.

The title of the book is explained by a very personal moment in Anderson’s life. His eighteen-month-old daughter had toddled up and given him a plastic donut from her kitchen play set and waited for a response. As most daddies would do, Anderson put the donut to his mouth and with great animation said, “Yummm, yummm…thank you, Autumn! This is soooo goood!” His daughter responded with great delight and ran back to the kitchen for another offering which continued several more times.

Of this event, Anderson says, “this exercise in giving gifts kept bringing her back to Daddy. For me, it kept me looking for my child to return to my side…I was so pleased… it wasn’t about the donut…if one of her older brothers had brought me a plastic donut, it wouldn’t have been the same. Somehow this gift was exactly right coming from my daughter.”

Then he shares his “aha moment”. This is how our giving must feel from God’s perspective. Our gifts to Him are like plastic donuts. He doesn’t need our gifts or money but the right gift given the right way can really get God’s attention. Anderson asserts that we all want to honor God and want to understand what God’s word says about giving. The problem is that there are so many answers many Christians are confused. Some teachers use New Testament teachings to prove the Old Testament no longer applies when it comes to giving. Others find verses there that “prove” certain Old Testament rules still apply. Some teachers encourage giving based on prosperity that will follow, others caution against “robbing God”. Some even combine these two views while others reject both.

I have had folks ask me on many occasions what is acceptable when it comes to giving. Do we have to tithe? If so, is the gross or the net? What about offerings? When we boil down most of the questions they come down to what “must” I give to be “acceptable” to God, so I don’t mess up. We focus on meeting a standard and mostly feel that “acceptable” means “barely good enough” or enough to make the grade. Anderson says that “acceptable” in God’s vocabulary carries the concept of “pleasing” rather than barely making it.

David understood: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14) Isaiah spoke of a fast that is acceptable to God (Isaiah 58). Paul instructed us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God… (Romans 12:1). With that thought David may have been saying, “Let all that I say and all that I think about bring a big, joyful smile to Your face, and make You really proud of me.”

Anderson goes on to list the many acceptable gifts discussed in both the Old and New Testaments. In the Levitical system offerings had to be “acceptable” in order to bring a pleasing aroma to the Lord (Leviticus 1:9-17). 1500 years later, Jesus was the lamb without blemish or defect (I Peter 1:19), a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:2). Paul then refers to support sent to him by the Philippian church as a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God (Philippians 4:18).

What if we began to see giving in terms of what is pleasing to God rather than in what must I do to get by? Anderson says, “our gifts can do a lot of good…feed the hungry… heal the sick…encourage the brokenhearted…spread the good news. But most importantly, they can please God in heaven, connecting His children to Him.”

Christmas is the season of giving. Most of us delight more in giving of gifts than in receiving them, which is as it should be. How might we delight our heavenly Father in the way we give to Him? Ponder that a week and I’ll share more of Anderson’s thoughts.

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