All month, the children had waited for their turn to pass along baskets for collecting the offering at church. It only happened once every five weeks. When the ushers waved the boys and girls into the aisle, the children were so excited they jumped up with glee and skipped, tumbling over each other to get to the baskets.
But the voice of one pee-wee helper, Ricky, cried out his fear loud and clear, “But I don’t have any money!” Ricky need not have worried. Gifts from God don’t cost money.
Generous gifts come to us from God like grace and forgiveness, help from the Holy Spirit, and spiritual gifts such as our talents, as well as skills we have or need.
The offering the boy was about to collect was to show honor to God by giving a part to Him from what God gives us. But it is never a trade-off, a portfolio-building strategy, or a buy-out.
Some still want a cash kind of deal for God’s gifts. It isn’t anything new.
Let’s back up to 70 A.D. and meet a successful and high-powered businessman in Acts 8. His name was Simon the Sorcerer, AKA, “the Great Power. ” He loved the nickname that his admirers gave him! Simon earned his reputation by his amazing tricks and sorcery that brought him money and respect. But his power did not come from God. Then Apostle Phillip arrived on the scene, having power in signs and miracles from God. Simon was astonished. Suddenly, the sorcerer’s tricks were no more remarkable than a dust storm in the desert. Big deal. Simon listened to Philip the stories of Jesus as son of God. He lined up with others to get baptized. Simon believed.
When Peter and John heard about the large group of new believers, they traveled to Samaria to bless the new believers, including Simon. To bring down the Holy Spirit, the apostles lay their hands on the believers.
Simon lined up too. When it came his turn, Simon thought it was worth the investment to be able to work miracles like he had seen from God’s hand. What it might do for profit margin and cash flow! He was so excited he offered the apostles earnest money as he blurted out, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit!” [Acts 8:18 NIV].
Peter told him, “May your money perish with you because you thought you could buy the gifts of God with money!”
So money doesn’t talk to God. It doesn’t set deals in action. God is not withholding his gifts until he receives payment. God doesn’t care about portfolios and investments of the earthly kind. God gives his love without conditions. He thinks of net worth from what He sees in our hearts and portfolio value by how we live.
More than having a heart of gold is having one of love for God and others. So to Ricky and all of you, it’s okay to come without money. God is all about love, not business.
[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, available from her website, www.button-to-god.com. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]