I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the insects in the fields are mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? (Psalm 50:9-13, NIV)
Most gods work like a vending machine.
Not the God of Israel.
Yes, most gods make you pay for what you get – an attitude embodied in the Latin phrase, "DEO ET DES" (i.e. "I give so that you might give").
- Want a good grade on tomorrow's exam? Then you need to offer some flowers to the god of wisdom.
- Need a sunny day for tomorrow picnic? Better light a candle for the god of weather.
- Starting a new business? Drop a twenty in the offering plate, promise you'll pay tithe, make a big pledge to the church's building fund . . .
And you'll discover that you can't buy God's help – not at any price.
You see, God doesn't need anything from us: not our money, not our time, not Special K loaf we brought to the last church potluck.
What's more, God doesn't get anything from us that didn't come from Him -- and that includes our money and time (though I'm not entirely sure He's responsible for the Special K loaf).
Finally, anything we give back to God is infinitely outweighed by the gift He's already given us: the gift of Himself through Jesus Christ.
In short, God takes this whole idea of sacrifice, and turns it upside-down.
He's not a vending machine, in other words.
No, He's a loving Father – a loving Father with a pocketful of quarters . . .
And He'd love to spend them on us.