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Objections to Place – Part 4

According to their ability, they gave to the treasury for this work    Ezra 2:69 

We pulled off the busy main road onto a side street in an industrial area in Lagos. The streets had potholes where water had gathered, sidewalks were nominal, and street vendors sold evening snacks to passing pedestrians. The church where we were speaking was located in a former factory or warehouse. It was a warm evening and the expansive hall had fans whirling overheard to compensate for the absence of air conditioning. Lyn and I preached to a congregation of mostly younger people. By US standards the setting was very modest.

Two things happened as we left the building: first, the pastor handed us an envelope with a “very small token of thanks for our ministry.” The second was that they pointed out a large brick and mortar building under construction behind the hall we had spoken in. It looked to be massive. “That is our new building,” they told us. When we got home we opened the envelope expecting a few bills in the local currency, and found the envelope filled with $100 bills. We spoke for only an hour to people we had never met in an area we would call poor, and the “small gift” was about 20 times larger than that which we receive for speaking at churches in the US!  

In recent devotionals I mentioned three objections to giving for a property: The timing is not right, place is not important any longer, and putting money into buildings is not good stewardship. The fourth objection is this: “I just don’t have the money…I cannot afford to give.”  

God does not expect us to give what the next person gives. “According to their ability they gave to the treasury for this work” Ezra 2:69 He also does not want us to give because we feel coerced; he wants our cheerful gifts. As we give we find ourselves in one of four camps:

  1. The “I cannot afford to give” camp
  2. The “My gift is so small that I will not bother to give” camp
  3. The “This is what I can allocate” camp, or
  4. The “I cannot afford not to give” camp. 

We suspect that the Lagos church where we preached lived in Camp 4. We expected nothing, we did not share any needs, we had never met them before, and yet they blessed us. Why? They are doing such a big work that they have to live in the stream of God’s supernatural provision, and they know that giving and receiving keeps that stream flowing.  

Reflections

  • What camp are you in?

  • What, if God were asking, is your real ability to give?
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