Have you ever noticed how children emulate their parents? Children watch their parents and they do what they see them doing. This is how they learn to speak. They watch the shape and form of their parents’ mouths and they try to make the same shape so that they can make the same sounds.
But children copy their parents even on a more mundane level. They watch how their parents cross their legs, how they fold their hands, how they stand and sit and walk, how they do and say most everything: and children try to copy it. This can be quite humorous when caught in the act. They do this even when parents don’t want them to. Everyone has been in the uncomfortable, and sometimes rather embarrassing, situation where a child does or says what one of their parent’s have done or said…something that is not too flattering! Sitcoms thrive on this sort of thing. And it only works because of the truth that children emulate their parents. And they do it because they want to be like them.
We are the children of God by grace, through faith. In Holy Baptism, God the Father declares of us what He declared of Jesus at His Baptism in the Jordan, “You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” God the Father claims us as His own. He takes away all our sins, and in exchange He gives us His righteousness, His purity, His holiness, and His Spirit, by which we cry out, “Abba, Father.” We are born again, born from above, born of water and the Spirit, to a new life in Christ as His children. We are sons of God in Christ, through Baptism. And since we are sons, we are heirs; heirs who share in the glory of the Son of God. The inheritance is ours because of the Father’s grace and mercy, because of His generosity in sending His Son in time to save us for all eternity.
And this is why we give generously of our income to the work of the church. Through the working of the Holy Spirit, we are enabled to lead holy lives. We are strengthened to emulate the generosity of our heavenly Father by being generous ourselves. We give to the work of the church because we have witnessed the generous giving of our Father in heaven. More than that, we are recipients of it. It is because we have received God our Father’s gifts that we desire to give ourselves. And His gifts are not just spiritual. They are temporal and earthly as well. As the Small Catechism teaches in the Fourth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer:
“Give us this day our daily bread. What does this mean? God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people, but we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving. What is meant by daily bread? Daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government,
good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.”
In other words, he gives us everything that we need for the care of both body and soul. His generosity knows no bounds.
Therefore we sit down at the beginning of the year, the beginning of the month, or the beginning of the week, and set aside a generous portion of God’s daily bread for His work in the church. Not because He has commanded us so to do. But rather because we, as His children by grace, want to emulate His generosity in our own lives. He is our Father; we are His children. And children want to be like their parents.