In a couple of hours Sue and I head out for a week long couples retreat. Don’t know how consistent I will be able to be with posting this week . . . I’ll try . . . but we’ll see.
This morning, I remember a story a friend once told me of how, when he was a young boy, his mom responded to his complaint about having to go to church. “I’m just doing it out of habit,” he protested to his mom. “Well,” she replied, “at least you’ll be developing a good habit.” I think it’s true of many of us. That at one time we went to gather with God’s people because we knew we should. To not forsake the assembling of ourselves together was commanded in the Word (Heb. 10:24-25), and so we knew we had to. But equally true for many of us, eventually we found ourselves looking forward to Sunday mornings not because we HAD TO go to meeting, but because we GOT TO. As we realized more and more the privilege it was ours to be with God’s people, the anticipation of weekly gathering became just that, an anticipation . . . no longer just an obligation.
As I’m wrapping up 1Chronicles this morning, that same dynamic comes to mind. That point when our tithing is no longer just an act of obedience, but becomes a source of rejoicing.
Then the people rejoiced because they had given willingly, for with a whole heart they had offered freely to the LORD. David the king also rejoiced greatly. (1Chronicles 29:9 ESV)
David’s making final preparation for the building of the temple. Part of that involves installing Solomon as king. And part of that involves gathering materials for the treasury which will be used for the building and financing of the temple. The spoils of war have gone into the treasury. Much of David’s personal wealth has gone into the treasury. And then, David appeals to the people to give to the treasury, “Who then will offer willingly, consecrating himself today to the LORD?” (29:5)
Note David’s perspective. To give of one’s material wealth willingly was an act of consecrating oneself freely. Not just an obligation, but an indication. And when they indicated their love for the LORD through the giving of their treasures, it was a source of rejoicing.
I’ve always thought that the Sunday morning offering should be integrated closely with Sunday morning worship. The sacrifice of our lips, our praise, should be fueled when we’ve had opportunity to offer the sacrifice of our wallets. The people rejoiced as they pondered with David . . .
But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from You, and of Your own have we given You . . . O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building You a house for Your holy name comes from Your hand and is all Your own.” (1Chronicles 29:14, 16).
The very act of giving was a powerful reminder that anything they had to give had all come from God’s gracious hand. That any abundance that was theirs from which to give a portion to the LORD, was but a stewardship entrusted to them by a freely giving God. Far from being an obligation, it was a privilege to participate in the work of the LORD. And so their monetary offering was a source of rejoicing.
O’ that we might be people who give willingly. Who, with a whole heart, offer freely. And in the act of giving, find a source of rejoicing . . . and worship exceedingly.
Another indication of God’s abundant grace . . . another opportunity to live for God’s glory.