Tuesday, August 11, 2009

With All That I Am and All That I Have

I was invited to write one week of devotionals for the 2011 edition of the "Upper Room Disciplines." The devotionals are based on the lectionary scriptures for a week in October. Here is the third one.

Saturday, October 15, 2011 – Read Matthew 22:15-22

Jesus said some strange things. At times, his words project the radical values of the kingdom of God. At other times, I wonder if he simply intended to stump his critics. W

hen he says “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (NIV) he is doing some of both. Jesus certainly knows the hypocritical attitude of those quizzing him about taxes. But he answers the question nevertheless.

It is hard to live from your center when people seem to be plotting against you! Yet Jesus does not couch his answer in a way that takes sides. Instead it spurred imaginative thought for generations. For Jesus, the way of gratitude boils down to a core question. How much of who we are belongs to God?

Gratitude is not a matter of tipping God for services rendered or volunteering a portion of our time. Our giving reflects our living. My favorite phrase in the wedding liturgy is spoken at the exchange of rings: “With all that I am and all that I have, I honor you.” We might best direct that phrase to the one that gives us life itself.

Many commitments occupy a role of importance in daily life, spanning everything from family to church, from community to career, from nation to denomination. Jesus’ saying on taxes ironically holds both sides of a proverbial coin in tension. It is not that we can only serve one or the other commitment. The question is how we honor God in the midst of all our commitments.

Giving is a spiritual discipline that cultivates a grateful heart. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:34) We do not give only to change the world. Our giving also changes us.

Take time to meditate over your checkbook, credit card statement, or bank account. How might you live in a way that honors God more completely? Pray for renewal.