Why does giving seem so difficult? In reality, it isn’t. But we make it difficult. We make it difficult because we’re afraid. We’re afraid that it isn’t worth the investment. We’re afraid that what we give to the church might be wasted, or that we could use it for something better, something more enjoyable, something more real, more tangible, more immediate, even more important, something more important than God and His gifts.
The point is this: We struggle with giving because we don’t believe as we should. We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things. And so we fail to give because we don’t love God with our whole heart, soul, and mind. We fail to give because we don’t fear Him more than we fear other things. We fail to give because we don’t trust Him more than we trust the things we can more immediately see, taste, and touch. We don’t trust that He will give us everything (EVERYTHING!) we need to support this body and life. For if we did fear, love, and trust in God above all things, we would see and know that all the other things that vie for our time, our talents, and our treasures pale in comparison to the joy of the real, tangible, immediate love God has showered upon us in the proclamation of the forgiveness of sins on account of His Son’s death, resurrection, and ascension.
The only proper response to this is repentance: to confess our sin, our stinginess, our lack of fear, love, and faith in God’s promises, and to trust in Him to help us bring our desire to do better to fruition. For God is not holding out on us. He never has. He never will. For if He has given you His only Son, how will He not also give you all things? He will. It is His promise. And these promises are sure and certain.
The reality is that God doesn’t need our giving. He doesn’t need our time, our talents, our treasures. He is God. We are not. He can do all things without our help. And even what we do give, even the good and righteous things we do accomplish, these are but filthy rags, as the prophet Isaiah tells us (Isaiah 64:6). Our gifts to God and to the Church are like a child’s gift of dandelions to his mother. They are weeds, which most of us spend an entire summer trying to rid our yards of them. And yet despite the fact that they are weeds, mothers always receive them with a smile and with joy. They will even put them in vases and display them on tables and countertops. They will recount to friends and other family members how their child gave them “flowers,” just to say I love you and I’m thankful for all you do.
Our Lord, too, receives with joy and a smile the gifts we give in thanksgiving and praise of what He has done. Even though these gifts are but weeds, filthy rags, and despite the fact that He doesn’t need them to accomplish what He wills, He receives them and puts it to use for our and our neighbors good. That is the real joy of giving. He doesn’t need us. Yet He makes use of us, He employs us in His service despite it. He makes all that we do—our giving, our work, our service to our family and friends and neighbors—holy. And He blesses it for their and our good and to the glory of His name.
So is giving so hard? Nah, it’s like giving dandelions to our mothers. And when dinner is ready, when the food is on the table, she’ll gladly have a vase full of them right in the middle. The Lord has prepared a table for you. Dinner is ready. The table is set. His Body and Blood is given to strengthen and nourish you. And right there, where Christ is with us, are the dandelions we gave. He has put them to use for our good, for our forgiveness, for our life in Him.