When I was a little girl, my parents would let us put some money in the offering plate at church. The heavy, wooden plate with the maroon velvet lining in the bottom would pass under our noses and we would each drop our offering in it, proud. It was good teaching, certainly, but I don’t think we ever really felt any sacrifice in it. After all, the money wasn’t ours ; we just happened to be its mode of transportation from Dad’s wallet to the offering plate.

I do remember, though, when we each received a little (plastic? tin?) church in Sunday School, into which we were to place coins for a specified time and then turn back in. It could’ve been for a specific purpose or cause that we were collecting; I don’t really recall. But I do remember having to come up with that money on my own. I had to take from my own small store of coinage, gathered from doing little odd jobs, or birthday gifts or just finding a nickel or dime. It was up to me and it was harder.

Fast forward quite a few years, and there I was, staring at my oldest daughter, and the money she held in her open hand.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“My savings money,” she replied.

Puzzled, I said, “I thought you were saving this for a special Breyer horse…why are you giving it to me?”

“To give to the SPCA.”

We had recently held a backyard “carnival” for the kids in our neighborhood to raise money for the SPCA. My daughter loves animals, and this was the cause she chose, and her little sister just loved the idea of people in the yard and fun carnival games, so she was completely on board!

“Honey, we have that money from the carnival to give. You worked hard to save all your money; you don’t have to give it if you don’t want to.”

“Yes I do, Mom…yes, I do.”

And with her big, beautiful smile gleaming, she turned and skipped out of the kitchen, fairly bouncing with happiness.

I’m thinking about sacrifices and offerings this morning because I’m thinking of someone I love who is in the process of forgiving some pretty huge offenses. You might wonder how in the world these two trains of thought go on the same track, but they really do. We collect offenses likes coins in a bank, hanging onto them until we build up quite a savings, and before too long, we’re lugging around a ceramic pig heavy with unforgiveness. We’re possessive of it, defensive of it, indignant that we’ve earned the right to keep it because of what we’ve suffered.

Now the small offenses we can hand right over and forget about, never really feeling it. It’s good practice to forgive easy stuff, but it’s really no skin off our nose. Some offenses are bigger and require more from us to forgive, but we do it. We take our small collection of coins and place them in the plate, and feel pretty good about it…lighter, even. But the big ones, the grievous ones, they’re a different story altogether. That pain belongs to US. That is a collection of pure, hard-earned gold bullion. It is precious and valuable to us because we suffered so much for it. How can we possibly turn it all over?

Hopefully, we do it because we have to…because we choose to. Because we realize that we want to make an offering out of it; a real, true sacrifice of something we’ve held onto for long enough and will serve far greater causes in Bigger, More Capable Hands. Thankfully, if we offer what’s precious to us, God will honor that offering in ways we don’t expect. Truly, we won’t just feel lighter.

We’ll feel FREE.

 

“Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.” Psalm 4:5 ESV

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21 ESV

“…forgive us our sins,¬† as we have forgiven those who sin against us.” Matthew 6:12 NLT