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An Offering of Flour

Do you ever wish that you could help more? We live during a time when it seems that there are more needs than ever. Rarely does a week pass when we do not hear about a fresh disaster which causes hardship. People are driven from their homes by earthquake, fire or flood. An economic downturn destroys jobs or famine stalks the land.

We would like to help. If we could we would correct the situation. If we cannot reverse the disaster itself, we would relieve the suffering caused by it. Yet, what can we do? We have few resources and the resources we do have are almost nothing in comparison to the need.

Even worse, how can we help others when we have needs of our own? How can we give to others when we ourselves don’t have enough? The Apostle Paul addressed this problem when he urged the followers of Christ in the Greek city of Corinth to take up an offering for the poor in Jerusalem. He pointed out that what makes a gift acceptable to God is not the size of the gift, but the heart of the one who gives it. “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.” (2 Corinthians 8:12 NIV)

Though our offerings, no matter how small, are acceptable and pleasing to God if they are given with a willing heart, how can they really help? One answer to this question is that though it is beyond the ability of any one person to meet the needs during a disaster, much of the need can be met if everyone is willing to share what he has with those who have less. The Apostle Paul wrote this to the people whom he was asking to help the poor in Jerusalem, “Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: “He that gathered much did not have too much, and he that gathered little did not have too little.”” (2 Corinthians 8:13-15 NIV) Though we may not have much to give, if everyone is willing to give what he can, the burden will be shared by all.

A second answer to the question of what is the point of giving or helping when we ourselves only have a little, is that God can do mighty things with the little we have. Our small gift is like a seed which grows and produces many other seeds. Paul writes, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver... Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-10 NIV)

The real question is not whether the little bit we have will be of any use, but whether we are willing to share the little we have. Are we willing to help those who are less fortunate than we?