Can’t remember the last time, if there was a last time, that I was chewing on my morning readings on a Sunday morning. The snow and subsequent deep freeze here forced the decision to cancel Sunday services. Weird.
Anyway, finished up Exodus this morning. The tabernacle is built, the glory has descended. God is in their midst.
But what I’m chewing on this morning is the catalyst behind the tabernacle blueprints becoming the tabernacle built. What enabled an idea on the mountain to take form on the ground. And it wasn’t just God’s Spirit-powered enabling of the craftsmen (35:30-35). Even before that, before the materials could be constructed into an end product, there had to be materials. And what sourced them? A generous heart.
Moses said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “This is the thing that the LORD has commanded. Take from among you a contribution to the LORD. Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the LORD’s contribution . . . (Exodus 35:4-5 ESV)
What’s grabbed me is that, while the contribution to the tabernacle project was commanded of God, it was for “whoever is of a generous heart.” A command given to all. But one which God wanted obeyed not just of cold, submissive compliance, but of an enthusiastic, large-hearted response. This was to be a “freewill offering” in the fullest sense of the term (3:29).
Repeatedly the God pleasing heart of giving is echoed by the Spirit in this passage.
And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the LORD’s contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. So they came, both men and women. All who were of a willing heart brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and armlets, all sorts of gold objects, every man dedicating an offering of gold to the LORD.
(Exodus 35:21-21 ESV)
Their hearts were stirred. Their spirits moved. And of a willing heart they gave liberally to the work of the Lord. Gave of their treasures. And, for those with the God-given ability, gave of their talents. All giving generously.
Though I’m sitting here this morning by myself when I so want to be gathered with the saints, I’m also profoundly aware of how the Lord’s generosity begets generosity. How the Lord’s abundant grace evokes a desire to respond with abundant praise. How, having been moved to appreciate the magnitude of what has been freely received, the heart longs in response to gather with the saints to freely give (Matt. 10:8b).
That it was a movement of God is obvious. Wouldn’t be long before the grumbling would start again. But at this time, for this season, the people of God responded to the command of God with a willing, generous heart. Oh, to be that people. Oh, to live in that season.
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
(2Corinthians 9:7 ESV)
God loves a cheerful giver. He is pleased with a generous heart.
O Spirit move our hearts, stir our souls. That to You we might freely give.
Because of Your grace. Only for Your glory.