Posted by: pastortomvabeach | February 11, 2014

Thought For The Week February 16, 2014

Today we’ll conclude the review of Jeff Anderson’s book, Plastic Donuts. As a note of review the title refers to a moment in Jeff’s life when his 18-month-old daughter brought him a plastic donut from her kitchen play set and eagerly awaited his response. With great animation he pretended to eat the donut expressing how good it was which thoroughly delighted his daughter and elicited further offerings from the “kitchen”.

This interchange suddenly offered Anderson a beautiful insight into how our giving must be from God’s point of view. The plastic donut, in itself, was not of great value to Jeff, but the fact that his beloved daughter gave it freely and kept coming to her daddy meant the world to him. Somehow the gift was exactly right. This reveals God’s perspective on our giving. What we have is of no real consequence to God, but He delights in us coming to Him sincerely and offering gifts that matter to us. What makes the gift pleasing to God is in the relationship of coming to Him with something that matters to us.

Anderson has presented some guidelines for gifts that are acceptable. Up to now we’ve learned that the amount matters (if it matters to us, it matters to God), that we decide the amount, and that we give because we can or according to our ability. These concepts come together with the last guideline to make up gifts that are acceptable and pleasing to our heavenly Father. So what is the final and, likely the most important, guideline?

It’s like everything in our relationship with God, the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. In Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus said, If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Does this make you think that Jesus is more concerned about the gift or about something else? What about this: To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice (Proverbs 21:3)?

Throughout the Bible we find that God is always more concerned with the condition of our hearts than with the gifts we give, the religious actions we perform, or our outward attempts at righteousness. This rings true with giving and Anderson says, “this is where it gets tricky. On one hand, God doesn’t want our gifts without our hearts being clear. On the other hand, we have seen that without our gifts, our hearts cannot fully express love for God or others. Just because more than one thing is desired-and one is more highly sought than the other-does not mean that the other is not desired. Make sense? Without a heart that pleases God, our gifts have limited value. And without gifts that please God, our hearts expression is limited.”

This is much like the concept of grace, faith, and works. Remember, we are not and can not be saved by doing good works, yet both Paul and James remind us that the works reveal the faith that has come to us by grace and without the works there is no faith at all. Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (James 2:17-18)

Jesus affirmed that our hearts and our stuff are connected (Matthew 6:21). Anderson says, “that means that a primary way we speak from our hearts is through our gifts. Paul instructed the Corinthians to prove their live by their gifts (II Cor. 8:8, 24). On the flip side, Paul warned the Corinthians that even if a person gives all they have to the poor, but does it without love, the gift is worthless (I Cor. 13:3). The gift helps your heart speak what it really feels. And the heart makes your gift count for what it’s really worth. The gift and the heart—they work together.”

So where do we go from here? Any parent will tell you that they love it when their kid’s hearts are lined up right. That makes the relationship percolate. When they stray, it may be difficult to admit and turn back but from the parent’s perspective forgiveness is instant when they do. The prodigal’s father welcomed his son instantly and completely when he returned.

Perhaps your heart condition is standing in the way of giving gifts acceptable to the Father. It might be a sin problem or something about your attitude. It could be unconfessed wrongs or a strained relationship with someone else. No matter what, you can turn back to God and make our heart right. Anderson says, “start by looking up, not at your bank statement or bills or problems or past. Look up. Give your heart and soul to God. Then sense His smile…His pleasure in you…feel His embrace. Now imagine Him receiving your gift. Like a plastic donut in a daddy’s hand, your gift falls to heaven’s floor as God picks you up in His arms and assures you that what He really desires is your heart…and the donut is just a tool you use to give your heart to Him.”

I don’t know if these thougths have helped you in coming to terms with giving. There are so many different opinions today. I believe the Bible urges us all to become generous as our Father is generous and Jeff has hit on some ideas that fit God’s character in my view. What about you? You can find more of Jeff’s thoughts at http://www.AcceptableGift.org.

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