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Happy Meal Christians

Ahhh, the “Happy Meal” at McDonalds. What parent hasn’t sheepishly included those two words in a McOrder at some point? It’s an American tradition–a virtual rite of passage in parenting–presenting that graceless red box of goodies to your kiddos: a burger/nuggets, fries, drink, and of course… the toy. And, oh, what a memorable item this is! Generally speaking, the Happy Meal toy is the most inferior product on the planet. Savvy parents create diversions that allow the toy to make a fortuitous fall into the nearest receptacle before exiting the restaurant. They know this gadget will become a fixture if it enters their home – an eyesore in the playroom for years… a land mine on every 3AM trip to the bathroom.

It’s unfortunate that what started out as a great notion in the fast food world regularly falls far short of its potential. Often the Happy Meal toy appears to be nothing more than a cleverly packaged manufacturing blunder or corporate tax write-off. It’s become synonymous with worthless… junk… a token offering… a complete lack of effort from an organization that could definitely do better.

In the same way, is it possible that Christians fall short of their true potential when giving to the Lord? Do we put in the extra time, effort, and funds to make our offerings worthwhile and special? Or are we presenting Him with our leftovers… our eyesores… our tax write-offs… our spare change?

2 Samuel 24:24 teaches that we should not give offerings to the Lord that cost us nothing.

I recall a conversation with a friend who grew up in a church-supported missionary family. Through the years, he watched well-meaning Christians donate all their seconds (and thirds… and fourths…) to his family. It’s safe to say he was plagued with a case of “hand-me-down-itis” for his entire youth. My friend wasn’t complaining. He was grateful for what they had, but admitted his vision of Christian giving was a disappointment. He often felt his family was no more than a catch-all for Christian cast-offs.

Well how about us? Do we donate our old, dilapidated furniture to the church when we need room for the new stuff in our house? Do we volunteer to help in Christian activities only when we have nothing better to do? Do we pass on our outdated TV to the faithful missionary family (while we upgrade to the latest flat-screen)?

Let’s avoid this Happy Meal mentality in our Christian lives by refusing to give offerings to the Lord that cost us nothing. Take a moment to ask yourself: if all Christians gave their time and resources to God in the same manner that I do, would the work of the Lord on earth be advanced and invigorated, or would it stagnate and suffer?

– Ron Reid