Will God be content with a partial offering of our lives?
Do Not Hide your Gifts
In this time of upheaval on the Earth, among wars and rumors of war, many of us are waiting on God to provide in some area of lack. Whether relationally, financially, in career, family, or geography, many of us are expecting the miraculous, redemptive, perfect justice of God.
During times of shaking and even necessary discomfort, it is tempting to hide from God. In Isaiah 2:19, the prophet warns his audience of this temptation, saying “People will flee to caves in the rocks and to holes in the ground from the fearful presence of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to shake the earth.”
In a Modern context, we relive that desire to run and hide through distraction and comfort seeking, through substances, relationships, and entertainment sources. Contrary to the way that the world responds to shaking, Christians have the opportunity to learn that God is the only safe place (surrender) and he requires full obedience. Without our full surrender and obedience, we leave ourselves exposed and can even partner with lack. In an extreme sense, our failure to trust God, our attempts to hide for the sake of comfort, and our partnership with lack can even lead to death.
The story of Ananias and Sapphira can be read as a parable about the importance of trusting God with everything. As it states in Acts 5, both individually and as a couple, they died as a sign to the church because they wanted to hold some portion of their goods/lives back. This was an example of their small thinking, because they did not trust in God’s ability to multiply.
Do not Partner with Decay
Both today and in its original context, the story of Ananias and Sapphira reminds us to give God the full portion of our lives. While their deaths were immediate, we often experience a more gradual death in the form of decay as a an evidence of withholding our full portion from God. As people who have been called by baptism to die, and by the Holy Spirit to be born again, any part of your body that has been withheld has not been transformed, and thus, is subject to decay.
Decay can be symbolized by negative exponents. A person starts with a full portion in some aspect of their life (for example, work). Over time, what was once good and healthy erodes until there is nothing good left in it. Decay can affect all domains of a person’s life, including one’s physical frame and property.
Under the New Testament, our giving to God is not a partial offering. The Old Testament practice of tithing was eclipsed by a new covenant under Jesus Christ. In the New Covenant, we give every aspect of our lives away to God, and allow the Holy Spirit to transform what remains. This is the meaning of baptism, that we have chosen to give God everything, dying to ourselves, and becoming his possession. This process of transformation is not concretely limited to finances, but requires a willing sacrifice in of your time, hobbies, relationships, family, career, emotions, rights, and entire being.
By this logic, if God is making a claim on your time, you can be liable to him for neglecting to spend time with him. If God is calling you to make a change in your relationships, you will likely experience decay in those relationships you cling to, against his call. If he is calling you to trust him with your career, you may find yourself with the taste of ashes in your mouth and finding that what once gave life now tastes like death! Anything that doesn’t follow from obedience is sin. As it says in James 4:17 (NIV) “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”
Before moving on, let’s clarify 3 important things:
- There is a difference between partnering with decay and robbery. In robbery, others rob you of your inheritance, of resources and opportunities that God has laid up for you. In the case of robbery, you can claim and expect a recompense.
- There is a difference between partnering with decay and the generational effects of poverty. You can ask Jesus to break off the curses against your family and assignment of poverty because of his finished work on the cross.
- Contrary to robbery, when we partner with lack, WE actually are robbing God! What can he really do with your life if you are unwilling to surrender?
Just look how God rails against his people making themselves like Ananias and Sapphira, who made themselves theives!
Often, this failure to trust is a failure to understand God’s character, and his power to provide. Just look at the way the servant describes his masters’ character:
What Ananias and Sapphira did not know is that the Lord is the only perfect hiding place and Provider. If you give the Lord every aspect of your life, you can trust that he will continually provide more than enough. This is the same mechanism that allows us to “go from glory to glory”, the same justice of God in the law of Reaping and Sowing, and the same pursuit of being fully mature Sons of God.
Have you trusted God with everything? Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to your mind any area of your talents, resources, or life that you have withheld from his leadership. Ask him to forgive you for this lack of trust. Surrender it all to Jesus to be the sole manager!
For as it says in Jeremiah 17:10 “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”
Still having a hard time trusting God?
Sometimes we struggle to trust God because of experiences with untrustworthy people. Ask him to give you the faith to trust that he is full of integrity, and will not disappoint you. Ask God to take you on a journey of learning to trust him over time! Feel free to check out these verses that show God’s inability to lie.
Trusting God for More: Daniel’s Excellent Spirit
The story of Daniel is an example of what can happen when we trust everything over to God. While this story emphasizes Daniel’s revelatory and cognitive capacities, don’t miss how he sees God as the author and sustainer of his gifts.
Ultimately, the story of Daniel isn’t primarily about a gifted young man, it’s about a young man who chose to honor God with all of his gifts.
Honoring God at a Cost
In the book of Daniel, it is true that our main character and his three friends were relatively gifted young men. According to Daniel 1:4, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were all noble “young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace“. However, even as gifted young men, it was their decision to honor God that distinguished them among their peers. This decision to forego specific kinds of food and pleasure came at a cost, but just as David was not willing to sacrifice that which cost him nothing, God rewarded him. Through choosing to keep themselves from anything unholy substances or false worship,“God gave them knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning”, “superior physical appearance“, and positions of high responsibility.
Did you catch that? While these young men showed aptitude, only through their devotion did God reward them with his Excellent Spirit. By choosing to forego comfort and distraction, God could trust them with more.
Beyond just the initial and ongoing sacrifice of food and other forms of pleasure, Daniel uses his gifts by trusting God enough to risk. Can you see how this is the opposite of remaining hidden?
Daniel trusts God over and over again in order to avoid death. In Daniel 2, he saves himself and his friends by Interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, while his friends prayed. Daniel’s friends then trusted God in the fiery furnace, and experience solidarity with Jesus in their testing. Daniel then has to give an incredibly risky word about the King going insane, which does indeed come to pass. Daniel is subjected to other’s jealousy, but survives an assassination attempt among Lions. His revelation for the remainder of the book is exceedingly weighty and concerns secrets about wars and even the day of Christ. Still, even Daniel wasn’t permitted to know or share some mysteries about God’s ultimate plan.
From this ongoing place of risk and active participation in God’s story, the Lord shared many things with Daniel that he would not have known, had he been more easily satisfied or less convinced of the saving power of God.
For the Display of his Splendor
Far beyond enchanters and magicians of his era, the quality of the revelation God gave to Daniel distinguished Yahweh as the definitive Lord of Hosts.
In spite of Daniel’s abilities, it is not even the most naturally gifted of individuals, but often the most zealous whom God favors. In Isaiah 11:2, the prophet describes the outstanding Spirit that rests on Jesus in much the same language:
Just as we all aspire to imitate Christ, Daniel is far from the only character past or present to whom God has apportioned this Excellent Spirit.
This excellent Spirit is available to all of us. Throughout scripture, God allocates this Excellent Spirit to individuals who seek him with all their hearts, souls, and strength. Through the diversity of those in the Bible who receive this excellent spirit, it can be inferred that God’s excellence is not limited to our specific kind of gifts or sphere of influence.
God gave this Spirit To Solomon, A Ruler
Sadly, Solomon did not receive the fullness of God’s promises because he allowed himself to be seduced.
God Gave this Spirit to Bezalel, A Creative Craftsman
God gave this Spirit to Jesus
Today, God is looking for people to whom he can entrust this Excellent Spirit, who will be his instruments.
As it says in 2 Chronicles 16:9, “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him…” The faithfulness of these individuals allows the Master to trust them with more responsibility. Through Jesus, the Spirit of the Lord even says in Matthew 24:5, “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time?”
Excellence Results in a Reward
So, what is the result of giving everything to God?
According to Jesus, it is being rewarded!
While people often misread the Parable of the Talents as “How God will Exponentially Multiply Already Gifted People”, the Parable is actually about how God will add more to those who are already using their gifts to glorify him.
We all have different gifts, but since we have the same Spirit, excellence is available to all who will steward what they have been given. This is especially true because often believers do not know their capacity, because Satan has intentionally obscured their gifts by circumstances or lies. Similar to trying to predetermine who will be saved before giving people the opportunity to respond, our fear of risk can allow us to shrink back from exploring giftings that God wants to make excellent.
Even if you are still scared, God promises to take the little you have and make it excellent. In the Parable of the Mustard Seed, it wasn’t the largest but the smallest seed that grew fastest and provided shelter.
Our God loves reversals, and he will honor your risk.
Not sure where to Start?
In James 1:5, the Apostle encourages us simply to ask God for wisdom. This is actually it’s own form of wisdom, because you need discernment to know that you are in lack, and not to rely on your own wisdom. We are told, “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” We can trust that if we come to God like Solomon in acknowledgement of our need, he will meet our lack.
In this season of shaking, whatever gifts you have and from whatever sphere of influence, Be like the Three Wise Men and prepare your gifts to present to the King. Do not withhold giving your entire substance to God! May he give you an excellent Spirit like Jesus, Solomon, Daniel, Bezalel, and many others past and present. May he make you a pure gold an instrument to display his splendor, a fit vessel to minister in his temple. May you know that God will discipline those who do not use their gifts to serve him. May God give you the endurance to risk well and be rewarded.