With thanksgiving coming up this week my focus shifts to “thanks – giving.” The Bible speaks much about giving in both the Old and the New Testaments. One of the major lessons about giving has to do with the kind of gift that is “acceptable” to God. We all know that offerings, sacrifices to God are not always acceptable. We see that in the beginning of Genesis where the two brothers, Cain and Able, bring their offerings to God. God had no respect for the offering that Cain brought. The author of the book of Hebrews in the New Testament, however, tells us “By faith Able offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain…God commending him by accepting his gift” (Hebrews 11:4). I don’t believe there’s a believer anywhere who would choose to offer God an unacceptable offering. None of us want to follow Cain’s example. We want to be like Abel. I think the Apostle Paul was referring to Abel’s gift and God’s acceptance of that when he praised the Philippians for their offering. He writes, “I am well supplied, having received …the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.”

I would argue first of all that gifts must meet certain conditions to be acceptable and well pleasing to God. The first consideration we must make is always “how much?” I’d like you to notice that the amount really does make a difference to God. King David refused gifts to be sacrificed to God by saying, “I will buy them from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing” (2 Samuel 24:24). Jesus also implied that our “treasures” and our “hearts” are usually on the same page (See Matthew 6:21). In other words, what matters most to people is usually easily identified by perusing their checkbook registers. This is a convicting reality for all of us.

Don’t miss the reality that you and I both determine the amount of our gifts. When Moses took the collection for the Tabernacle he said to receive a “contribution from everyone whose heart moves him to give.” He left the amount up to the giver. Paul also implies a similar principal in 2 Corinthians 9:7. He says, “each one must give as he has decided in his heart…” Whether you subscribe to the tithe (10%) or not, it’s your decision as to how much you will give to God and when you will give it. God will never “take” it from you. He will only receive it. It’s the gift from a pure heart that truly represents a sacrifice that delights God’s heart and is acceptable and pleasing to God. No one “has to” love God. He sets us free to do so or not to do so as we decide in our hearts. No one “has to” give to God, he sets us free to do so or not to do so as we decide in our hearts.