For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Pastor Wallace recounts the story of Pastor Dave who is invited to preach an evening service at a small, country church. Dave is more than happy to oblige, and decides to bring his young son, Timmy, with him. The long drive, to and from, will allow ample opportunity for them to converse and share.
They arrive at the wood-framed, whitewashed church early, just as the sun is beginning to set. There is plenty of light remaining for them to admire the bucolic surroundings. They gaze at the sprawling fields of stubble dotted with gigantic, barrel-shaped bales of hay. Observe the massive oak trees which surround the church and its modest grounds.
Dave imagines the welcome shade these giants must provide in summer's unrelenting heat. He longs for warmth . . .
"Let's see if the door is open," Dave tells his son. "I'm getting cold standing out here."
"Me, too!" Timmy agrees. His cheeks and nose have turned ruddy in the chilly air.
To their relief, the door is unlocked. It is dark inside the church. Pastor Dave fumbles for a switch. Presto! The church, now bathed in light, is quaint, yet comforting. Welcoming.
As Dave's eyes peruse the interior, they fall upon an old-fashioned wooden box with the letters "Collections" printed on its side.
"Maybe it's for donations to help keep this building in good repair," he tells Timmy. "Let me see what I've got."
Timmy watches his father thumb through his wallet. He skips the $20, the $10. Finally grips two one-dollar bills which he quickly stuffs into the slot on the top of the box.
"Howdy, Pastor!" Dave and Timmy jump, startled by the jovial greeting. "You sure are the early-bird, aren't you? Planned to be here to greet you, but glad you let yourself in."
The elderly gentleman introduces himself as Joe, and shows the two around the church as the congregation begins to trickle in.
The service goes as smooth as glass. Pastor Dave is pleased with his sermon delivery and feels confident his message has touched the gathering.
When the service is over and the people are leaving, Joe approaches Dave again.
"This is for you, Pastor," says Joe. "Came straight from the collection box out yonder."
Dave stares in disbelief at the money Joe presses into his waiting hand. $2.81. $2.81???
"And, we thank you kindly for coming out tonight."
All Dave can manage is a nod and a weak smile. He wastes no time getting to his car with Timmy hustling at his heels. As soon as they get in, Dave tosses the bills and coins into the glove box. Closes it with a fierce snap.
"Unbelievable!" he snorts in disgust. "That's the best they could do? And, on top of it all, those are my own two dollars!"
Timmy is quiet. Lost in thought. Finally, he turns to his father.
"Dad, maybe if you'd put more into it, you'd have got more out of it."
"And, that," Pastor Wallace concludes, "is true in the worship experience. The more you bring of yourself, fully present and engaged, to the service, the more you will get out of it. And, the more you can take home with you and out into this hurting world which needs the Good News of Jesus' saving love and grace. When you worship, will you give it your all for the Almighty?"
How about you? Will you give it your all the next time you worship the Lord?
Will you pray with me?
Heavenly Father, You deserve nothing less than our undivided attention and our hearts bowed in thanks when we worship You. Help us to be present and mindful in our prayers and praise. May we always give our all to You. Amen.