I heard about a missionary in a foreign country who led a man named Pablo to the Lord. Pablo was a poor farmer, and the missionary asked him, “Pablo, if you had 100 sheep, would you give 50 to the Lord?”
“Of course,” Pablo said.
“Okay. What if you had 50 cows? Would you be willing to give 25 of those cows to the Lord?”
And Pablo said, “Yes, sir!”
“Well, what if you had two pigs? You’d give one to the Lord, wouldn’t you?”
And Pablo said, “Well, that’s not a fair question. You know I have two pigs!”
That’s kind of the way we are, isn’t it? In theory, we’re the most generous people in the world. We say things like, “You know, if I made a million dollars, I’d give so much of it away. Think of all the good I could do!” But then you talk with people who make a million dollars, and you see that most of them have the same struggles with giving as the person who makes $30,000.
That’s because giving has a lot less to do with what’s in your bank account than it does with what’s in your heart.
You see, when most people give to the Lord, they tend to go cheap. And I think this is rooted in the fact that God is not flesh and blood like we are—He’s invisible. That means we don’t have to look Him in the eye when we bring Him an offering. So it’s “out of sight, out of mind.”
That was the problem in Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament. The people in Malachi’s day were going cheap with God—because they didn’t really hold Him in very high regard. The Lord says in Malachi 1:7-8 …
“You are presenting defiled food upon My altar. But you say, ‘How have we defiled You?’ In that you say, ‘The table of the LORD is to be despised.’ But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?” says the LORD of hosts.
The people of Israel were thinking, Hey, God really doesn’t care what we give Him. Let’s just sacrifice our rejected animals—the crippled and the blind ones. The Lord responds, “Try giving a trash gift like that to your governor and see how happy he is with it!”
Our God is an awesome King—far greater than any worldly ruler. Yet all too often, we fall into the habit of giving Him our scraps so we can keep the good stuff for ourselves. But when you begin to give from your heart—with the attitude of making every gift your best—you learn what it truly means to live beyond yourself. And that’s what God really wants!