And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:25 ESV
This old porch swing brings back so many memories of Dad. He loved to sit out here and just talk. He talked about anything, and loved to tell his life stories. I will never forget one story he told of what I call Missionary Eggs. The story took place during the Great Depression when the members of the Ladies Missionary Society were concerned that they could no longer give to missions because each family was in such a bind financially. Gathering one night to discuss ways they could give, they hashed over many ideas. After a lively and energetic discussion, the decision was made to donate all the eggs laid on Sunday’s. These would be sold and the proceeds would be given to missions.
The ladies were excited and hens became more productive each day of the week. Pooling their monies into one account caused the missionary societies fund to grow quickly. Eggs sold for 10¢ per dozen during those years but these ladies decided to step out in faith and charge 12¢. After all, it was for missions. God began to bless their sacrifice. After several months, with good results, the ladies met to discuss how they would donate their reward. One of the ladies stated that it seemed like the hens were laying more eggs on Sunday than any other day of the week. They chuckled in agreement. She went on to say her family needed a lot of help and she couldn’t see her way to keep giving on her most productive day. (What? God is blessing this day isn’t He?) The excitement died. A few eyebrows were raised and grudging attitudes ensued.
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20 ESV
Over the next few weeks anger and bitterness arrived providing silent authorization to cease giving eggs to missions except by the sanctified few. Resentfulness began to raise its repulsive countenance while the Prince of Darkness smiled when the ladies missionary society found it had a few less members at the next meeting. Those who stopped giving felt like their sacrifice was not sufficient compared to others while those who were faithful continued their commitment, but began to look down on those who no longer gave.
It can be very disheartening when we don’t understand how someone can make a commitment and then break it just because tough times arrive. We begin to view others who don’t or can’t make the sacrifice as not really committed to God.
When recalling the story of Cain and Abel we can see two brothers who gave their sacrifice to God. Cain killed Abel because he believed God saw Abel’s sacrifice as better. When we look closely we can see that the truth was in Abel’s heart, not his sacrifice. We can see that both gave and acceptable sacrifice but when we look at the heart of each we see that humility and faith in God made Abel’s sacrifice right in the eyes of God. Cain’s heart carried resentfulness and bitterness and he allowed it to become full of hate, resulting in the murder of his brother. When our hearts are not right with God then our sacrifice, no matter what it is, is not accepted by God.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Ephesians 4:32 ESV
We should never judge someones heart, or their sacrifice. God will determine if it’s acceptable. Do not allow the resentment and bitterness that set in among the Ladies Missionary Society into your mind and heart. You see, even those ladies who continued to give their sacrifice noticed their heart began to change. It took an open forgiveness, and a lot of tears. The pride tangled in some throats enough a bush-hog was needed to clear it. A sweet, loving and sincere repentant of heart in each lady everyone’s character right again. Only then did Satan flee and God continued to bless their giving. Once they remembered God is looking at their sacrifice individually the society was made whole again.
So as a Christian, do you harbor any resentment toward anyone? Look deep within your heart and ask God to reveal what may be a hindrance to your relationship with Him.
“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.Matthew 5:23-24 ESV
Hey Dad! Hey Granddad! What a great example of love you will set for your grandchildren when they see the patriarch of the family on his knees in forgiveness and obedience to the Father. What a reward you will receive when you realize you are bringing your sacrifice to the Father with no hindrance of resentment or bitterness in your heart toward another. Again, what a great lesson you learn, and can even teach to your grandchildren in this way.
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.“
Philippians 4:7 ESV
May God give you the strength and the courage to go to that brother, or sister, and ask their forgiveness today.