Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”(Mat 19:16).
Human nature is interesting. We say we want absolutes but the moment we get them we want to argue with them. What we REALLY want is the ability to control or manipulate the system. That way we can DO whatever we want and STILL get the rewards or avoid the punishment.
You can imagine this conversation, right? “Lord, how many times do I have to go to church every week?” “Four.” “FOUR? Wow, that’s a lot! What if I miss one and only go three?” “Alright, three.” “But Lord what if I’m busy and I only go two?” “Okay, two then.” “But Lord, two might be really hard, what if I can only make one?” Long sigh... then, “Fine, one.” “Lord, I’m just not into sermons and singing and Bible and all that. What will happen if I just don’t go?”
The same kind of conversation happens about giving. How much money do I have to give (back) to God? There are probably lots of folks who would love to have that number. But it can’t be answered. If a dollar amount was given in response to that question they would argue with the amount and the fairness of it. After all, an amount that might be a token for some would be impossible for others. What if a percentage were given, like the 10% of the Old Testament? Now it’s time for bargaining. “What if I only give 9%? How about 8%? Seven...?” You see the problem.
Here was the Lord’s solution for him (Mat 19:21), “Jesus said to him, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’“ The “good thing” that was required was to truly follow the Lord, completely. That one thing will take a life time.
In the case of giving, listen to Paul’s answer. (2 Cor. 9:6-8 NRSV) “The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.”
- Tim Orbison