Giving. Offerings. Tithes. At some or other stage in our lives, we all wrestle with these concepts. Should I give? How much should I give? To whom should I give? We wonder whether we should help the poor people we see begging every day. We wonder whether we should help the people who seem to be so successful but we know they don’t have food in their home. We wonder what the pastor will do with the tithe we pay to the church. We wonder what will be done with the offering we give on a Sunday. Money. The love of money. If not the love of money, then our fear to have no money. Money is one the biggest threats to faith.
Yesterday I had one of those moments where something in the Bible struck me so hard, I couldn’t believe that I have never seen it before. How could I have missed this? I have read through the Bible several times already – yet this piece of scripture never jumped out at me like it did yesterday.
Acts 10: 1-4
At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!”
Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked.
The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.”
Cornelius did three things: he feared God, he gave generously to those in need and he prayed regularly. Just that. And his prayers and giving came up as a memorial before God. Imagine that. No really, imagine that! Imagine the scene in heaven when there is a memorial for your prayers and your giving. Wow.