There’s plenty of debate about whether the Bible offers a giving standard.

Interestingly, the quest for standards is not so pressing for prayer, fasting, Bible study, or church attendance.  How about “honoring your mother and father”?  It’s a clear command, but who determines how we live that out?

(crickets chirping…)

From the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus provides instructions on giving, praying, and fasting.  For each, He focuses on the heart standard, but does not expound on an amount standard (Matthew 6:1-18).

We see some specific examples in scripture: The widow gave all she had; Zacchaeus gave half; the Pharisees gave tenths.

David praised God seven times a day.  Daniel prayed to God three times a day.  Moses fasted twice for forty days from food and water.  Daniel fasted twenty-one days from rich foods and wine.

Where did these children of God get their standards? They determined them.

It’s human nature to seek biblical standards. “Just tell me what to do!”

“What good thing must I do to get eternal life?” the rich young man asked Jesus (Matthew 19:16; Mark 10:17).

“How many times shall I forgive my brother?” asked Peter (Matthew 18:21).

Let’s be honest.  Are we looking for a “rule” to follow so we can check it off our list?  Or soothe a sense of guilt and confusion?

It’s always easier to follow rules than follow a living God.

The absence of rules can cause tension in determining the amount of our gifts.  And God does not ease this struggle with a one-size-fits-all gift standard.  This tension is healthy.  This tension exists because of our free will.

This tension exists because God is not an IRS form.  He is our Father who wants a relationship with us.

Think about a meaningful gift you have given for your most treasured relationships – perhaps a birthday gift, an anniversary gift, or a special occasion gift.  Who determined the amount of these gifts?

You did, right?

So, what will you do with this tension?  How does this impact your giving?  And, your relationship with God?

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