Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again. If you believe this gospel, if you stand upon it, cling to it, you are saved. Trust in this is the dividing line. It defines, either positively or negatively, all men. It separates and divides Cain from Abel, Job from his so-called friends, Abraham from Abimelech, Isaac from Ishmael, Jacob from Esau, David from Saul, Daniel from Belshazzar, Joseph from Herod, Lazarus from the rich man, and the tax collector from the Pharisee. What defines men is not whether they are good or bad, but whether or not they believe in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.
The problem with man is his heart. Our hearts are fallen and predisposed to think that we can impress God. We think that if we do all the right things God will reward us, and we will escape evil. We think that God will be impressed with our gifts, that our prosperity and goodness is evidence that God loves us or that it should motivate God to love us.
But we know better because God has blessed us with the faith of Abel, Job, and Abraham. We know that God’s grace in Christ saves us, not our works.
We know that God is not impressed with our giving. He is not impressed when we give him that which is already his. God doesn’t benefit from our giving and He doesn’t need it. But our neighbor does need it. And God delights in us growing more and more like Him. He blesses us, and He invites us to bless one another with our giving: so that the Gospel may be proclaimed, so that the poor may be fed, so that all God’s work through the Church may be done.
So consider God’s priorities in comparison to your own. And be honest. Reevaluate where you are and where God has called you to be. Look into your own bank statement. Would any accountant think that the Church was your priority? He would see a spreadsheet filled with where your money actually goes: into house and clothing and cars, into eating out and beauty supplies and entertainment. Indeed, much of it wasted on frivolous things. But would he find great percentages going to the church? Figure up the percentage. Put it in relation to the proportion of your income. What percentage of your income do you give for the mission of the church: the preaching and teaching, the baptizing and communing, the help for the weak and poor brothers of Christ? Is it even enough for a deduction when you file your income taxes? The widow gave all she had and thought nothing of it. She was glad to do it. The rich man gave what to him was a meaningless, trifle amount and desired a plaque in his honor. Why is it that the less we give the prouder we are and the more credit we expect?
All your works, even your monetary gifts, done in faith please God now for Christ’s sake. No matter how great or small, frequent or infrequent. They are all washed and cleansed by grace through faith on account of Christ. Whatever you do from faith in God pleases Him for the sake of the Son. So reevaluate your generosity in the light of the grace of Christ. Freely you have received, freely give.