The M&M Dispenser
For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints. 2 Corinthians 8:3
When my kids were young, we had a vintage gumball machine that we used as an M&M dispenser. You popped in a quarter, turned the knob, and out came a handful of candy. My kids liked M&Ms, so, we could have made money off them except they didn’t have any money. They were little kids. So, we put out a cup full of quarters and as a reward, they could grab a coin and exchange it for candy. When it came time, we would take the quarters out of the machine, put them back in the cup, and refill the M&Ms. Since we bought the candy and supplied the quarters, it was not a financially beneficial transaction for us. We gave them everything.
From the kid’s perspective though, when they got a quarter, they were that much richer for it. They could use it how they wanted. They could put it in the machine and get M&Ms or they could save it. Whether they saved it or put it in the M&M dispenser didn’t really matter financially to us. We owned everything and a quarter hidden in their bedroom was still in our possession. Only a fool would think that we were making money from them when they put it back in the candy machine.
This must be something similar to God’s perspective of us and our possessions. He’s given us everything and when we give back to him, from his perspective, we’re not really giving him anything that wasn’t already his. He does ask us to give though, of our time, love, and money. He asks that we give to further his kingdom work here on Earth and that we give for our own benefit.
In today’s passage, Paul said that the Christians in Macedonia begged for the opportunity to be able to give to God’s work. They saw giving as we should see it. When we give to God, we’re simply returning something of what he’s already given us. We should give generously, and we should give in thanks. God may be no richer when we give, but we certainly benefit when we’re obedient to his will. In keeping our time, love, and money, we embrace selfishness and reap the bitter consequences. In generously giving though, we’re filled with love, life, and joy as we share with others that which God has first shared with us – just like the quarters and M&Ms.