READINGS: FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT
Rudyard Kipling is a writer whose books sold so much that words in his books were said to be worth a hundred dollars each. So a journalist once gave Kipling a hundred dollars with the request, “Mr. Kipling, could you please give me one of your one hundred dollar words.” Kipling took the money, put it into his pocket, and looking at the reporter said, “Thanks”. Yes, thanks—to be grateful and to appreciate blessings in life—is a genuine and gracious way to relate with God. In the first reading of this First Sunday of Lent (Deuteronomy 26:1-11), Moses told the people of Israel that when they bring their offering to the Lord, the first-fruits of their produce, they should do so with a declaration of all the blessings God has bestowed upon them from years past. In other words, Moses was telling the people that they should not just bring their offering to church but should do so with intentionality; with gratitude in their hearts; with declarations of God’s blessings in their lives over the centuries. He wanted them to know that their offertory must be thanksgiving offerings, full of gratitude. No wonder Scripture says, “Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil 4:6).
What Moses told the Israelites applies to us today, also. It is easy to come to Church and during offertory drop a note or a few coins into the collection basket without really giving it much thought—what we are doing, how much we are giving, why were are giving what we are giving, etc. It should never be like that. What we give on Sunday, during the offertory, needs to be intentional and that begins at home before we come to Church. The family should come together, remember and declare what the Lord has done in their lives—His mercies unto the family and unto individual members of the family; His divine protection and deliverances over the years; His blessings, provision, and sustenance all these years; His consolations, healing, and restorations given and received; the gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ; the gift of life and wellbeing, etc. Then, in gratitude and thanksgiving for all these blessings, we make a decision of what to offer to the Lord. This is the most appropriate way to make our offerings. It allows us to be thoughtful about what we are giving to God. It gives us an opportunity to give thanks to the Lord and to ask Him for future blessings. It gives us the opportunity to be intentional with our gift and to live with purpose. It makes our giving a true sacrifice of praise, pleasing to the Lord.
The Lord deserves our best; our very best, and so our minds should be into it when we are making an offering to Him. We should be grateful not just for what God is doing today rather it is also about what He has done over the years. This gives us the confidence to know that what God has done in the past, He can also do again and again. It gives us the hope that God will be there when we need Him most. It strengthens our faith in a promise-keeping God. Let us take time today and write down what the Lord has done for us in this past year and to begin from this lent to make thoughtful, intentional, and gratitude-loaded Sunday offerings. May the good Lord take glory in what we give, Amen!