MARCH 19 – 25, 2017
“We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” (2 Corinthians 10:12 NIV)
It is very interesting that we call competition in the church, “Holy competition.” It is exactly what it is, “comparing themselves with themselves.” From our text, the Bible calls it an unwise thing to do. Why does this happen? To show that some are better than some. To show that some love God more than some. However, does the one that seems to be winning in the comparison game, really love God more than others? Or have they found a way to gain the recognition they desire.
Take the story of of Ananias and Sapphira for example, in Acts 5. Everybody was giving to help the poor and needy among them, to ensure that none lacked among them. The bible specifically names a man called Joses (Acts 4:36-37), who the apostles named Barnabas, meaning a son of consolation. He had sold his land and brought it to the apostles. The very next chapter opens with Ananias and his wife Sapphira who also sold their possession (a piece of property) and brought the money to the apostles.
They too wanted to be called sons of consolation. However, Joses gave so that others will be blessed (humility) but Ananias and Saphhira gave so that they would be recognized (pride). “[Remember] this: he who sows sparingly and grudgingly will also reap sparingly and grudgingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to someone] will also reap generously and with blessings.” (2 Corinthians 9:6 AMP). If you give for others to be blessed, you would give as the Lord puts it in your heart to give. That’s an indication of one who humbles himself under the mighty hand of God (1 Peter 5:5-6). The opposite is a prideful heart; one who does not humble himself under the mighty hand of God.
Ananias and Sapphira really could not part with all that money but they wanted the recognition that came with the knowledge that they sold their possession to help the needy. So they lied, bringing only part of the money as all of the money. Why did God strike them down immediately? As an example that pride kills! Every time we make a decision for pride, we die. We let in conditions into our lives that are designed to physically kill. We need to be careful when we give. Be sure you give what you purpose in your heart to give like Paul said in 2 Corinthians 9:7. Don’t give because you see someone else giving or because you want some recognition, or because you want God to do something for you, or as penance for your wrong. Give because God lays it in your heart to. Such giving is what the bible calls bountiful giving, giving much or giving so that someone else will be blessed.
Ok, since we are on the subject of giving, I have to write this that has been in my heart to write. Remember the passage on the widow’s mite? “Jesus looked up and saw some rich people putting their gifts to God into the Temple collection box. Then he saw a poor widow put two small copper coins into the box. He said, “This poor widow gave only two small coins. But the truth is, she gave more than all those rich people. They have plenty, and they gave only what they did not need. This woman is very poor, but she gave all she had to live on.”” (Luke 21:1-4 ERV).
I thought that few meant few and more meant more. If one gives little, he will receive little and if one gives much, he will receive much. “Remember this: The one who plants few seeds will have a small harvest. But the one who plants a lot will have a big harvest.” (2 Corinthians 9:6 ERV). But Jesus Christ just pointed out that the widow’s little was more than the much the rich men gave. I have heard often concerning the widow’s mite that Jesus was watching the amount of money the people were giving. The widow got His praise because she gave all that she had. Therefore, if you give all that you have, you’ll get praise from Jesus.
I know many rich people that gave all that they had and didn’t have anything to give anymore because they didn’t get any praise and reward from Jesus. I know some who gave all they had and are battling with illness that has completely restricted their bodies from allowing them function in the call of God for their lives. So, what’s wrong with this understanding?
From my studies, I’ve come to find out that Jesus wasn’t really watching the amount that they were giving, He was watching their hearts. God always looks at the heart. When Moses struck the rock twice instead of speaking to it as God instructed in Numbers 20:11, God saw it as a negative condition of his heart – a lack of trust in Him. The widow gave in humility but the rich men gave in pride. And it was not all the rich men that gave so. Further study will show that it was some of them. God is not really concerned with the amount you give, He is concerned with the heart in which you give it. Those rich men wanted to be seen to give but really didn’t want to part with what they had. They wanted the recognition and Jesus saw it.
Jesus said we should not let our right hand know what our left hand is giving (Matthew 6:3). Why? Because when the left hand knows, he wants to outdo the right hand. Competition begins! Pride in action! Paul speaking about the Macedonian church in 2 Corinthians 8 said that they gave out of their deep poverty to the needy in the Jerusalem Church. But they gave with so much joy. In fact, he said they begged him to take their giving. In verse 5 of the same chapter, Paul explains why they were able to give so; because they first dedicated themselves to the Lord and to the gospel of grace they (Paul and his team) brought to them. Surely when we give we receive!
Surely, God will make it up to you by giving you everything you need and more so that there will not only be enough for your own needs but plenty left over to give joyfully to others, but God does not want that (our returns) to be our focus or motive for giving – it’s selfish! God wants our motive for giving to be so that someone else will be blessed. When we begin to compare ourselves with others, or allow and join others compare us with others, whether in giving or anything else, we are simply displaying the wisdom of the world, which is from a proud heart. The Bible calls such unwise.
Dear Reader, playing the competition game is too stressful and dangerous for your body. Your body doesn’t need this! Value your body enough not to get into it. Remember, God needs your body to fulfill His purpose on the earth. It is the reason why He formed your body in the first place. So, give God that honour of valuing your body and stay away from comparing yourself with others.
I pray that your experience this week will only be that of good, as you humble yourself under the mighty hand of God. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Amen!! God bless you amazingly this week!