The Treasure Upgrade

It was the early ‘90s and I was only a few years old. I didn’t understand it then, but my family was living in poverty and I was my mom’s youngest child and only daughter. She indulged in few non-essential purchases, but wanted badly to have a pair of red plaid leggings to dress me in. Her only little girl. And this month she had the money for it. Or would have. Except…she was a newer Christian and had stretched her faith to commit to tithing 2% of her income. This month she had to make a choice: the leggings or the tithe. No one would know if she didn’t give this time. But she had made that choice in her heart and would honor it. She said no to herself and yes to God. The next week a bag of gently used girls’ clothes showed up on her front step and inside was a pair of red plaid leggings, just my size.

I love this story. It reminds me of the story in the Bible where Jesus commends the widow for giving to God her two small coins, all she had to live on. The size of the gift is irrelevant; rather God looks at the heart of the giver.

Pastor Ken’s sermon this week was on the spiritual tool of giving, given to us for the purpose of maturing us into spiritual adults. That’s right, the invitation to give is itself a gift. It keeps us grateful, keeps us humble, stretches our faith, and keeps our focus on what counts: God’s great generosity towards us in Jesus and beyond. Scripture says “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I think you can turn that around and say “Where you want your heart to be, there place your treasure.” Have you ever noticed how the things you value are the things which cost you, not those that are free? Can you agree the you’re more likely to finish an online course you paid for over one that was free? Or that you’re more likely to take away value from the retreat you paid for over the one that cost you nothing? Your heart follows your treasure. Generosity is not only an overflow of a grateful heart, but is itself a tool to keep us treasuring what is truly valuable. Where you want your heart to be, there place your treasure.

I took this principle to heart a few years ago when I purchased a giant world map to hang on the wall across from my bed. I stuck pins all over it. Yellow to mark my own travels, blue to mark my husband’s, green to mark our joint adventures, and pink to mark our spiritual “investments,” the missionaries, organisations, and efforts we support financially. I look at it every night before bed and it reminds me to pray for those opportunities. I like that there are more pink pins than any other color and I want to keep it that way. I like that I can give a finite resource in the form of money and get an eternal return on investment in the form of the Kingdom being expanded on earth. That’s a truly infinite ROI. Rationally, you couldn’t make an argument for a better use of money.

Jesse and I have never given with the expectation that we would get anything back, or that God would somehow owe us for having given and almost never have we seen an immediate reward for our giving. That’s not why we give, so we’ve always been fine with that. Then a few years ago I felt God was calling us to commit a substantial monthly sum to a particular effort. The only problem was, we didn’t know of anyone or any organization doing that thing. We had to hunt for someone to give to! We did though. We found someone taking on the highly illegal, dangerous task of bringing the gospel to one of the most hostile nations on the earth. And we stretched ourselves to give the amount we felt God asking. I was just starting a new job at the time and although I’d signed my contract, I’d not yet started the work. Within a week of committing our gift to this new effort, I received a call from HR of my new company. They told me that they’d found extra money in the budget and that they were going to give me a raise and an 18% one at that! WHAT?! I hadn’t even started! I did the math though and found that the additional net pay would exactly cover our new monthly commitment.   I wasn’t expecting it; I didn’t feel entitled to it. But it reminded me that my Father has more than enough resources to care for me and delights to reward those who trust Him. I cling to this testimony during the times when the rewards are not so immediate and trusting seems to hurt.

I look at the pink pin stuck in that nation every night and remember to pray for it because my heart has followed my treasure. Now that nation, those people, are my treasure and my heart is with them. That’s how generosity works. So embrace God’s gift to you of giving, of partaking in his work, and let your treasure, and your heart, receive an upgrade 😊