Strength for the Week: August 25th – September 1st

Strength for the Week

STRENGTH FOR THE WEEK: Flood Church’s Weekly Devotional

Series 1: The Voice of God

A Judging Voice


“As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-3

Jesus sees the rich and their wealth. Jesus sees the poor and their poverty. Jesus sees the givers and their gifts. Jesus sees the keepers and their keeps. Jesus sees it all. Jesus cannot be mocked. Jesus cannot be tricked. Not only is he qualified to judge sinners because he alone has lived with sinners without condoning sin and died for sinners committing sin, he is also qualified to judge sinners because of his unequaled and inimitable ability to see through the charade of our sophisticated efforts to pretend to be less sinful than he knows we are. On its own, sin reduces us to ruins, but our calamity is further compounded by the fact that before God can even reach the sewer of our sin and clean it out for us, he must first break through the concrete façade of self-righteousness we have built over our sin through years of sounding, looking, and behaving right without actually being right. There are many different kinds of sinners, but the kind that is most resistant to God’s rescue efforts are the hypocrites, simply because they are emboldened by their ability to get many things on their own by the sheer power of their convincing appearances.
Take the righteous act of giving, for example. From a human standpoint, there are many advantages in giving the right amount, or giving at the right time, or giving to the right cause, or giving to the right person, or giving on the right occasion, or giving in the right currency, or giving with the right conditions, or giving by the right mechanism, or giving in the right country. However, from Jesus’ perspective, there are no ultimate advantages if our giving is a costume for covering the sins we refuse to be rescued from. Jesus sees the difference between gifts we present as an expression of our greed and those we present as a surrender of our greed. Jesus sees the difference between gifts we present when we are thought of as rich by those who fail to see our true poverty and those gifts we present when we are thought of as poor by those who fail to see our true riches.  Jesus sees the difference between gifts that are a response to the need we are contributing to and gifts that are a response to the need we ourselves have for freedom from the shackles of greed and anxieties. In other words, while the world around us obsesses over the portion of our giving as a measure of generosity, Jesus fixes his gaze on the proportion of our giving to judge our generosity. While we are using giving as a way to assure others that they can count on us for their livelihood, Jesus examines how much of our giving is a way to show God that we count on him for our livelihood. As you can see, it is all too easy to turn the righteous act of giving into a self-righteous act that builds resistance towards God’s efforts to address the sinful attitudes towards the money we keep that are covered up by the prideful attitudes towards the money we give.
When it comes to righteousness, the Gospel is merciless in its rebuke against blowing our own trumpets, for we have no trumpets of our own to blow. There is no righteousness acceptable to God that can be earned, achieved, purchased, or pretended by us. The only righteousness God will gladly receive as a free gift from us is the perfect righteousness that God himself has gladly given as a free gift to us.  Whether or not we are living by this free gift of perfect righteousness will show up everywhere, including our giving of money to God’s service. Those still trying to look righteous determine their giving by the size of the gifts others are giving to God, while those who are satisfied with free righteousness determine their giving by the size of the gifts they themselves have received from God. Jesus see it all.
Keep the Faith

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