Sunday, January 07, 2018

Not Given with a Willing Heart? Forget It, No Contribution Required

Exodus 35:4-9:

Moses spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, “This is the thing which the Lord has commanded, saying,
 ‘Take from among you a contribution to the Lord; whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as the Lord’s contribution: gold, silver, and bronze,
 and blue, purple and scarlet material, fine linen, goats’ hair, and rams’ skins dyed red, and porpoise skins, and acacia wood,
 and oil for lighting, and spices for the anointing oil, and for the fragrant incense,
 and onyx stones and setting stones for the ephod and for the breastpiece.

Thoughts on the Passage
Moses is telling “all” the congregation about what God “commanded,” of “all” of them. God wanted them to make a contribution of what was theirs to God. And God wants that contribution to come from our very best possessions – in this case, gold, silver, and bronze, and a slew of other valuables Moses lists.
The other requirement for this offering was that it had to be with a “willing heart” – otherwise, forget it; no contribution required. The Apostle Paul echoes that requirement in 2 Corinthians 9:7. The lesson for us today is this – someone (e.g. a church leader) can state the need, but they should never force or manipulate anyone to give – because then the giving may not be “cheerfully” given. God can work directly with one’s heart and cause it to give willingly without the assistance of pastor Jones or elder Smith. David Guzak emphasizes this by saying, “This offering came from God’s command, not from Moses’ clever fund-raising techniques.”
We also note that what God asked for were all things necessary to build His Tabernacle. In today’s terms, what we give to should directly or indirectly contribute to the building of His Kingdom – and sometimes that includes the necessary upkeep and maintenance of the local structure through which part of the outreach for His Kingdom is done.
We may well ask, “Could God not have just provided all these things by dropping them from heaven as He did ‘manna’ for the people to eat?” And the answer of course is “Yes, He could have. But no, He did not.” God wanted His people to have a stake (or as we say in sport, He wanted us to have “skin in the game”) when it came to building His Kingdom. However, we are never to forget that God could provide everything that He needs without our help. He is God. But this loving God has chosen to involve His children in the work.

In the passages ahead, we’ll see how this plan works out. In the meantime, we can reflect on our “giving with a cheerful or willing heart”. How are we doing? Or, we can reflect on our church’s approach to raising funds. Does it follow the model that God established and shared through Moses?
What has been your experience in your own giving or in the church's giving programs?

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