God created everything; all of heaven and earth belong to him.  There is nothing he needs, and I have nothing that he lacks.  His plan is not dependent on my input, and he can always find someone with better access, better skill, more time, and more money than I can provide.  So why does God require each of us to give back 1/10th  of our “first fruits”?  Why does he recommend love offerings on top of that?

In Matthew 25 Jesus tells a story about a man who was going away for a time.  Before he left, he gave each of his servants different talents.  That word talent can refer to a weight of silver.  It also can mean capabilities.  Jesus has gone to heaven to prepare a place for each of us.  While we wait for his return, we are responsible for the talents God gave us.  Each of us has relationships, opportunities, skills, gifts, money and time that he expects us to use for the sake of his kingdom and his people. What God has given me is different from what he’s given you.  I have sung duets with some of the biggest names in the Christian music industry….all alone in my car where no one but God could hear.  A beautiful solo singing voice is not a gift God gave me. Some of you got one. I did not. (I would like to point out here that Psalm 66:1 says “Make a joyful noise to the Lord” – no mention of pitch or tone quality required!) God has given each of us unique, wonderful gifts, and he wants us to combine our gifts into a perfect whole in our service to each other.  We can hide them, use them to serve ourselves, or we can invest them in his kingdom, but he will hold us accountable for what we do with those gifts. 

The parable of the talents reminds us that whatever we have is entrusted to us for a time, and then we will have to answer for how we used what God gave us.  God specifically tells us to return 10% to him.  When we obey that command to give 10%, it doesn’t put God in our debt or earn us heaven, but it will remind us that he is the source of everything good that we are and have.

He is God and we are not.  We are not capable of outgiving God.  We do not worship a selfish God who is waiting to punish us when we don’t please him. We worship a holy God who withheld nothing from us, not even his son, in order to give us unfettered access to his presence, both now on earth and for eternity in heave.  God is so generous with us.  He gives us color when black and white would have worked; he gives us variety and beauty in his creation that are completely unnecessary; he gives us forgiveness and second chances that we do not deserve, he made each one of us completely unique – and he will hold us accountable for how we’ve spent our money, how we’ve invested our time, how we’ve used our talents. Luke 6:38 gives us a promise from the lips of Jesus.

 “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

God will take what you give back to him and use it, not only to bless others, but to return the blessing to you.  When Jesus returns, he will hold each of us accountable for what we did with our “talents”.  May we be generous with each talent, each dollar, each moment that he has given us, and may our generosity give us deeper insight into the character and love of God who has been so generous with us.