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The Lenten Tradition of Almsgiving

The Lenten Tradition of Almsgiving

by Carl Brown

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus introduces the three pillars of Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, with the same short preface, “When you.” “When you pray…” (Matthew 6:5) “When you fast…” (Matthew 6:16) “When you give alms…” (Matthew 6:2) He doesn’t say, “If you fast.”

He doesn’t say, “If you give alms.” All three are invitations to sacrifice. They are invitations to sacrifice the very things we all want more of; time, food, and money.

When my kids were younger, I asked them how they could know that someone loves them. Their response, at first, was, “if they do nice things for you.” I took things a step further. “The people at the fast-food restaurant give me food. Do they love me?”

This made them think. They replied sheepishly, “no.”

Then I gave them the answer to this short but important pop quiz.

“You’ll know someone loves you when they sacrifice for you.”

That’s how God knows we love him. God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice Isaac. (Gen. 22:1) This prefigured the sacrifice that God the Father made by giving His Son to us.

John 3:16 famously reminds us, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but have eternal life.” Through the gift of Jesus, we know that God loves us.

We show God that we love him by making sacrifices. And what we offer to God was given to us by God in the first place. So, in giving alms, we are showing God that we are trustworthy as stewards of his Creation and the gifts He has given to us.

God doesn’t need us to give alms. Rather, God knows that giving alms is good for us.

From all of us in the Stewardship Department, we hope that this Lent is a fruitful time of renewal for you, and an opportunity for you to show God that you love Him.

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