Heart Giving – Romans 12:1-4
November 5, 2019 by Rev. Dr. Steve Locke
In our first sermon of our stewardship series I quoted a skilled theologian who said, “We become what we worship.”
His meaning was this: whatever we give ourselves to, with our whole heart, we tend to transform into all that this object of worship is about. If we worship money, we tend to become greedy and selfish. If we worship and desire power, we become indifferent to the needs of others and think only how to increase our power. If we worship pleasure, we tend to use others, and the gods we create, to get what it is we want. We become users and not givers. Therefore, we need to look closely at those things we give so much of ourselves to, in order to discern our proclivities and our goals in life.
In Romans 12 Paul states more clearly the importance of knowing what you worship, and what the dangers are of worshiping the wrong object. He says,
“I exhort you, therefore, by God’s mercies, to offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this culture, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern the will of God.”
Paul believes that giving ourselves to the spiritual worship of God, who is pure and good, will help us loosen the entanglement with our culture, that presents so many diversions. He believes that the world presents many temptations that are not necessarily good for us. But the single most dangerous thing the world can do is “deaden our heart to God.” Therefore, we must keep ourselves focused on who God is and God’s will.
This habit of spiritual worship of God will eventually transform our minds to think God’s thoughts and what God is doing. Then when we continually engage God in this way, we will be less likely to be drawn into the dangerous traps of our culture. Instead, we will be turned to God by a heart full of love. As our heart turns to God in love, then we are filled with the desire to give. For a heart full of love, is a heart prepared to give.
As we live through this uncertain time of global conflict and trade wars, especially with China, it has caused me to think of the book, “Shoes of a Fisherman”—a fictional account of a courageous Pope. During a turbulent time in the Vatican, it was suddenly decided by the Archbishops that they needed a rather unknown person to fill the job of Pope. They chose a Ukrainian priest who had a heart for people, but no real experience in politics. The world was on the brink of a major famine because of the trade problems between United States and China. Chinese people were starving, and because they were affected so were others in the world.
This new Ukrainian Pope decided to go visit the Chinese leaders, to see what he could do. He did this against the advice of the Vatican hierarchy. When he returned, he decided that he must provide an example of giving that would ignite the world into following his example. He addressed the people from the Vatican Balcony, and told them that he was going to sell many of the Vatican’s property and treasures to secure the money to give to China. The people were thrilled, but you can imagine what the hierarchy thought. They tried to stop him, but he forged through. His heart was full of love, and therefore he was prepared to sacrifice anything to give what he could to heal this global conflict.
While this may be a dramatic example of giving from your heart, it is no less significant. We all have the capacity to give ourselves to others and to ministry in the same way. Our story may not be captured in a book, but it is not less significant for the people we infect with the gift of giving, and the recipients of our gift, as well. Giving comes from a heart filled with love, not from an overflowing pocket book. Giving is a spiritual exercise of worship and devotion to God and his creation. It was love that gave Jesus the courage to face the cross, and it is love that gives us the desire to reach out to our neighbor. Make love count. Show it in giving.