Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?
Romans 2:4 (NASB95)
God is not a nit picking tyrant ready to smack us for doing anything wrong. He is kind, loving, patient, and tolerant. He demonstrates that the best way to win someone over is to be kind. He is quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry (Book of James in the Bible) and he asks us to do the same. To influence others you have to be willing to let them influence you (Stephen R. Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People). When you truly listen (when they say you present their view back to them better than they presented it to you) you communicate respect for them, that you value them and you begin to build trust. And trust, once earned, smooths the road of communication of infinite obstacles, and is the foundation of cooperation and synergy (finding the third alternative that is better than either of you could think of on your own).
I read a post about something controversial that said that I can’t “agree to disagree” with them or I will be inflicting harm on someone. I just read a Christian devotional that made multiple statements of what I “should” do. People I love, but their dictates? Not so much. My instant reaction is “who do you think you are telling me what to do?” That’s a reaction. What is my thoughtful response? I believe these statements originate from fear. Fear their writer has that their goal will not be met.
How do I pursue security? If I know that Jesus is in control, that He will make all things work together for the good of them that love Him and are called according to His purpose, if I know he lives within me, is one with me, and will never leave me – I am secure. Not secure that in this life all that I want will come true. Secure that Jesus has the best plan for me and no matter what happens He will make it turn out the best for me and all that love Him.
The previous paragraph is an example where I talk about “me.” In this case, how I pursue security. I didn’t tell anyone what to do. I just talked about me. And if my life isn’t attractive enough to persuade anyone, certainly my words aren’t either. And definitely not if I “tell them what to do or should do.”
Mark 12:41–44 (NASB95)
41 And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums.
42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent.
43 Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury;
44 for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.”
I don’t think this is about sacrificial giving. I think this is about dependence, trust, and relationship. The widow did not have Social Security or a retirement plan; she had nothing. Her dependence on God had developed trust in Him and facilitated an ever closer relationship with Him. Giving her last cent to God was saying: “God, I give away my last money to you as my way of saying I am totally dependent on You, I trust You more than money, I love You.”
This is what I think Jesus thought was significant, not what percentage of your disposable and essential income you give. When I am making my daily decisions, and I make my decisions based on my relationship with God and what He wants and not what money dictates; I will have learned this lesson.