Some years ago, a dear Christian lady began preparations to send a box of goods and supplies to missionaries from her church. A neighborhood child heard of her project and desired to help. But being only a small child, she had very little that would be useful to the missionaries. The child did have a penny, however…a gift from a favorite uncle…which she cheerfully presented to the dear lady to help her friends on the mission field.
Touched by the child’s heartfelt generosity and not wanting to offend her in spite of her small gift, the lady graciously accepted the penny. But the child’s gift was too small to purchase supplies and the lady was uncertain how she could put it to good use. Then an idea occurred to her, and she used the child’s penny to purchase a single gospel tract.
On the day when all the necessary supplies had been gathered, the lady asked the child to help her prepare the box for shipment. One by one, the lady and the child packed the items, being careful to include the gospel tract purchased with the child’s penny. The box was finally sealed and addressed, and together the lady and the small child took it to the post office to be shipped to their friends halfway around the world.
Some weeks later, the box reached the missionaries, who joyously unpacked it. The supplies it held brought sweet relief to their modest circumstances. Near the bottom of the box, the missionaries discovered the gospel tract, which they soon gave to one of the local people.
The tract was passed among the people, eventually reaching a great chief who lived in a nearby region. Intrigued by its message, but unsure of its meaning, the chief called for the missionaries to come and explain the teachings. They came and began to share the gospel, and in time the chief accepted Christ as his personal Savior and Lord. The chief told the story of his conversion to his people, many of whom also believed. Eventually a church was established and over fifteen hundred people were brought to a saving knowledge of Jesus.
This remarkable story, started by a gift of a child’s penny that culminated in the salvation of many souls, marvelously demonstrates the power our gifts can have on the work of the Kingdom. To be truly acceptable to God, however…and thus receive His greatest blessing…our gifts should be given for the right reasons and with the proper attitude.
As the apostle Paul relates in 2 Corinthians, acceptable gifts should be given willingly and within our means (8:12), and should not be offered reluctantly or given out of necessity ("under compulsion," 9:7). Most importantly, the offering most loved by God is one that is cheerfully given (from the Greek hilaros, the root of the English term "hilarious"). Thus, truly effective and acceptable Christian giving lies not in the amount given, but rather in the spirit and attitude of the heart that gives it.
We may never know, this side of heaven, what impact our gifts have on the cause of Christ. But as our story shows, no gift, willingly and cheerfully given, is too small for God to use in a mighty and miraculous way.
* Mr. Morris is Director of Donor Relations at the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Morris IV, H. 2011. Acceptable Gifts of Power. Acts & Facts. 40 (10): 21.