For the week of May 22, 1999 / 7 Sivan 5759
Torah: Devarim / Deuteronomy 14:22-16:17
Haftarah: Bemidbar / Numbers 3:1-19

Giving from What We've Been Given

Then celebrate the Feast of Shavuot to the LORD your God by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the blessings the LORD your God has given you (Devarim / Deuteronomy 16:10).

One of the features of the festival of Shavuot (English: Weeks or Pentecost) was the bringing of an offering proportionate to God's blessings. God does call us to give out of what we have, not from what we do not have.

The great commandment states, "Love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength " (Devarim / Deuteronomy 6:5 - emphasis mine). We are not called upon to pretend to be someone that we are not. What we are called to do is to give out of what God has given us.

God does not compare one person with another. There are no superstars in God's Kingdom. He does not have higher regard for people based on the quality or quantity of their sacrifice. How difficult our feats may be or how risky they are does not impress him. What he wants is for us to be true to what we ourselves have been given.

By basing our service to God on his blessings in our lives, we acknowledge him as the Giver. Instead of giving credit to situations, luck, or ourselves, we proclaim the truth that God is actively and lovingly involved in our lives.

By not measuring ourselves by what others do, we are free from the control of man-made religion. Giving out of what God gives sets us upon God's standard. Our motivation is not to impress or measure up to others; we only have God to answer to.

And we do have God to answer to. This is all about his involvement in our lives and our response to him. When we compare ourselves to others, we become consumed with our possessions. We get fooled into thinking that serving God is about the stuff we have. It isn't.

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