This is akin to, “It’s not the gift, but the thought that counts.”
We jokingly spew out these little truisms when we’ve forgotten an anniversary or birthday gift, or just didn’t take the time or expend the effort to at least get a nice card.
As the recipient, when confronted by these brush-offs, we will smile, give a hug, and say, “You’re right, it is the thought that counts.”
But, ironically, that’s not what we’re thinking.
How often do we treat God this way?
When I was a kid, people frequently sang “specials” in church. Many had no vocal abilities whatsoever. Listening to them was painful and embarrassing.
Yet, the pastor and others would praise the effort because it wasn’t the quality of the singing that was important, but that it came from the heart as a “gift unto the Lord.”
There are two issues here that need correcting.
One involves having the means and ability to give a good gift and failing to do so.
The other involves not having the means or talent to provide the gift being offered.
In the first instance, the reality is that the “thought” behind our lame giving is tied to selfishness, greed, or laziness.
In the second instance, we are coveting something we don’t have and that isn’t ours to give.
In both instances we are cheating the recipients!
We are offering a gift that is not truly from our hearts, is not representative of who we are, and that actually devalues the one to whom we are giving.
We hold back what we are really able to offer because we don’t want to share from our own store of means, talent, intelligence, etc.
This is true whether the gift is for another person, or a gift “unto the Lord.”
When giving of ourselves to God, what’s truly tragic is that, everything we have comes from Him in the first place. It’s all His. What we have is His and what we don’t have is His.
What He wants is us, not our stuff.
And He definitely doesn’t want us to sing Him a song if He’s not gifted us musically. That would be cruel.
The thing is, when we give anything to God, a tenth, a half, or a whole of something we don’t have, He still loves us.
He’ll smile, give us a hug, and say, “Thanks.” But He knows we are capable of better.
If we really care about the one or the One to whom we’re giving, the thought and the gift will match, and we’ll give from the means, abilities, and talents God has blessed us with.
Anything less stinks and it’s not nice to give people stinky gifts.