One of my favorite verses in found in Micah. It's the header for this blog. It's a verse I try to live by and focus on. I slip up at times and lose my focus, but Christ is there to direct me back to Him.
"Mankind, He has told you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8 (HCSB Version)
There are times we can get stuck in one verse without looking at what comes before it or after it. This is one of those verses for me. There is so much more here for us to learn and grasp about life, giving and the heart. It's not the gift that matters. It's not the amount. It's not even so much the giver. It's the heart of giving.
Lets be honest. We can all give. We can give the shirt off our back to another, but do we always give willingly? Here's a tough one. Do we give until it hurts? Meaning, do we even realize what we are giving?
In watching a program last week, I seen a portrait of real giving. A soldier of long ago needed to be buried and for many reasons was not allowed to be buried in his home town. Here's the beauty of it. People gave so his family could travel to Arlington. We aren't talking thousands or even hundreds of dollars. Some gave twenty-five cents. Others gave two dollars. After it was all added, they had just enough for the travel and enough to purchase winter coats for the journey. These givers were giving all they had. They weren't worried about what was left or if they had enough. They gave wholeheartedly.
This story touched my heart deeply. It made me think and ask myself, "Do I give until it hurts?" We live in the country of plenty. We are not wealthy by any means. But it's easy for me to give my old coats to Goodwill, especially on the day I go out and purchase a new one. I can buy someone a cheeseburger with the twenty dollar bill I have in my pocket. But what if I just gave more? What if I gave until it hurt?
I'm not saying we must give until we are empty. But where is our faith in Christ? Is He truly in the heart of the giver? I can honestly say, not always.
See, Micah was reaching out the people of Israel. The people are asking what they should give and Micah is correcting them, saying, it's not the gift but the heart that matters. Read verse 7 with me.
"Would the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams or with ten thousand streams of oil? Should I give my firstborn for my transgression, the child of my body for my own sin?" (verse 7)
Now, put verse 8 next to it.
"Mankind, He has told you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God."
The NIV version reads
"He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does He require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8 (NIV)
Micah is here, pleading God's case, to the Israelites. We can learn that God isn't concerned with the offering here, but in the offerer. It's his heart, his character, his behavior in giving. We aren't to give and share with everyone we meet that we have given, but we are to do so with a humble heart. Not one filled with pride.
There are times in my life where I have been the giver and those where I have been the recipient of a gift. God knows the need and He knows just how to meet that need. When I can be the giver, I'm not suppose to do so with pride, but fully understanding that it is God who is giving through me. He has provided so that I am able to give. I am to be His willing vessel.
I am to love others without judgement. I need to treat others just as I would want to be treated. We measure gifts by the cost and think we have done our good deed for the day by giving. Friends, giving is not a one time deal. It's not a good deed to get done and move on with our day. To walk justly, to live in faithfulness and to walk in humility should be characteristics of our relationship with Christ.
Too many times we give with the thought that now good things will come our way. We give with expectations. How many times do we give and we are offended if we have not heard, "Thank you"? We are not to give expecting anything. We are the vessel. We are there to meet the need and that is it.
We are to pray. Prayer is such a sweet gift in itself. In being the vessel that pours out the gift is an honor. As humans we can put too much thought into things and we get lost in the translation of giving. It's not so we gain, but that so our Father in heaven gains reward. I am to open my hands and my heart to others. I am to walk with Christ and as the Holy Spirit speaks to my heart I am to move on God's behalf.
Lord, help me to realize my life is not my own. I am to be Your vessel. I am to live with Your love and I am to follow Your commands. Your commands are treasure to us. Through love, You guide us. Open my heart to the needs around me, Lord. Open my eyes to all You want me to see. Teach me to be a Christ-giver. Use me to bring glory and honor to You, Lord. Take my life and allow it to shine before all men, bringing witness and glory to Your name. It is You, Lord, that provides every need. Be with us, Lord, for You are the Giver and the Gift.