As He Is Able (Deuteronomy 16:17)

Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.

Deuteronomy 16:17

When I was going through the program to get a teaching credential, one of the instructors brought up the concept of equity. In teaching circles, the concept of equity is that all persons are not equally capable and that people — due to factors such as background, learning style, home life, age, and so on — learn different subjects in different ways. I should rant some other time about the inherent folly of trying to standardize education when people don’t come in standard, but that would be a huge digression here. The educational concept of equity, getting back on track, is that each student gets what he or she needs to be successful in learning the material. This means that some students will seem to get less time than others and, quantitatively, the perception would be accurate. However, in an equitable classroom the student who receives less attention from the teacher is the one who needs less attention from the teacher. Some students thrive on the independence of the teacher telling them what to do and then leaving the student to do it. Some students need to be shepherded through the entire process of completing the assignment. Equity gives to each what is needed. God, when it comes to sacrifices, is equitable in this definition.

The command is for every man to give as he is able. There are standards — the offering must be without blemish, it must be offered in a certain way (depending on what is offered), and so on — that apply to the how and what and why and where, but the “how much” is according to the blessing of the LORD. Has God blessed me abundantly? Then God wants to receive an abundance back from me. Has God’s blessing been meager? Then God does not expect very much from me. As is said elsewhere in scripture: to whom much is given, much is required.

At this point, lots of folks (Americans, in particular) get twitchy about “their money” and how it should be spent. I will consider that particular “blessing” last of all, because I think it the most cumbersome of blessings. In my case, God has blessed me with a believing wife. God tells me to love her as Christ loves His church. And my obedience, according to Samuel, is better than sacrifice. Am I loving my wife, who is an astonishing blessing, as I am commanded? God has blessed me with a beautiful daughter. Am I loving her as my Father in Heaven loves me? Am I modeling the love our Father has for us to her? Am I teaching her God’s truths and ways? Granted, she’s young yet, but am I, in essence, offering her back to God by the way that I love her and teach her and discipline her? God has blessed me with a job that I mostly enjoy (except when I’m bored, but that is the exception, not the rule). Am I working as unto the Lord? Am I giving my work to God as an offering? I have family and friends. Do I love them and pray for them and model Christ to them? This can go for pages. Every blessing God has given begs the question of whether or not I am offering it back to Him. I have a clear mind and working hands, hence I take time to write and pray that God receives my meager verbal offering according to the heart that offers it (and sometimes has to wrestle the mind into focus). Food on my table, clothes on my back, freedom to fellowship with other believers without fear, a healthy and fully functional body — the list of blessings is so extensive that I could begin counting them now and still be here when exhaustion claimed me. Last on the list of blessings is money. Why last? Because money is one of those things that ensnares. Jesus said we cannot serve God and Mammon and Mammon (money) SCREAMS at Americans to bow at its altar. There is always something that I think I need and, rather than pray and ask God to provide it if I really need it, I scrimp and save or splurge and buy. Did I need that thing? Unlikely. Despite its insidious ability to undermine my trust in God, money is capable of great good when placed into the hands of God. Yesterday, I remembered a time when the abundance of money God provided allowed my wife and I to help some of those with whom we fellowship. Money can do great good when it is put in its right place. Its right place is at the feet of God; at God’s disposal — the self same place where I belong.

How am I able to bless God? What am I able to offer up? If I have time, He will gladly accept it. If I have talents, He gave them to me to be invested in His kingdom (see the parable of the talents). If I have people to love, He wants to make me able to love them in such a way that they see Him and are drawn to Him. It may not seem like an offering at first blush, but it is. God wants me to give to Him according to my ability and with a cheerful heart.

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