“At that time Hanani the seer came to King Asa and told him, ‘Because you have put your trust in the king of Aram instead of in the Lord your God, you have missed your chance to destroy the army of the king of Aram……The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him. What a fool you have been. From now on you will be at war.’ ” 2 Chronicles 16:7, 9
Chinese Christian Brother Yun, known as the Heavenly Man, tells of this happening in one of the Chinese house churches. The Chinese believers regularly send off other believers to go into surrounding towns and villages to share the love and life of Christ. Before each sending, the group would take up a collection for the work. Many of those who were in attendance had nothing of material or monetary value to give. These believers, with tears streaming down their faces, when the large sack came to them, would literally place themselves in the sack. Yun said that by doing this, these gentle folk wanted to signify to God that their lives were all they had to give and that they were willing to give all of themselves for His glory. I’m humbled by this. Are you?
Here in the west, there are many who are willing to give….up to a point, or as I heard one man put it, up to a tithe. There are also those who are willing to go…..again, up to a point or a place. How many of us are really willing to give all of ourselves to all that is Him? When “the sack” comes to us, are we willing to put many “things” in it, but not all of ourselves? Is giving, to us, a matter of percentage, or totality? How many invisible lines have we drawn, and boundaries placed on how much of ourselves we’re really willing to be sacrificial with? Who are we really more like in Jesus’ story of the rich Pharisee and the poor widow? Jesus watched the Pharisee give a large amount of money out of his wealth.
The widow gave two pennies, which was all she had. The first gave out of his surplus, the widow gave all with nothing held back. Who are we more like? When the sack comes our way, to which heart attitude are we really drawn to? What have we really put in the sack? Every moment of every day, the sack comes before us. What’s really going into it. A percentage or a person?
This is not just a matter of our resources or time. It’s a matter of the self. All of the self. The past, present and future. They all go into the sack. Our motives. Our dreams, desires, disappointments. People. Both those we love, and those we perhaps do not love so much. All of it goes into the sack. When the sack comes to us, we cannot stop with a check or a volunteering for some needed church ministry or job. We cannot stop with a part or percentage. It cannot be the part. It must be the whole. The whole of us.
Asa the king had trusted God with much. He could not trust Him with all. “War” was the fruit of that. For us, this means that all that we hold back from him will be under attack from our enemy satan, and we will spend ourselves on trying to protect in our strength what can only be kept by His. If this is not so, just think on how much unrest is in our lives as the result of trying to bring about the results we desire by our own efforts, be they relationships, professions, and especially ministries. Like Asa, we suffer constant “war” and have no peace because of it.
The Lord continues to search the world for hearts fully committed to Him. As He searches, what does He find in ours? Percentages? Bits that are His, but pieces that are not? Asa lived in this way, and the Father called him a fool. What does He call us?
(A special thanks to my brother in Christ and friend for allowing me to share this devotional message.)