1 Chronicles 29 tells the story of how David and the people of Israel took up an offering for the construction of the temple which David was told by
God would be built by his son and successor, Solomon. It is a beautiful story of what happens when Gods people give generously to God’s work.
I once heard of a minister who announced to his congregation on Sunday morning, "Folks, I have here In my hands three sermons - a $100 sermon that lasts five minutes, a $50 sermon that lasts fifteen minutes, and a $10 sermon that lasts a full hour. Now, we are going to take the offering and see which one I will deliver this morning."
The story found here in 1 Chronicles 29 isn’t one where the people were blackmailed into giving generously. Instead, it is an illustration of that which Paul spoke of in 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV) "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." The people here gave cheerfully and generously, and Paul says that God loves it when that happens!
David celebrated the purposes that God was working out through the generosity of His people. What purposes are carried out when God’s people give as he directs?
1. We Are Humbled - vs. 14-19
The people of God who give generously to God’s work develop a spirit of humility. Why? Because . . .
A. Giving reminds us that God is the source of all things - vs. 14;16
David readily acknowledged that what the people had been able to give on this occasion was not due to themselves, but to the provision of God. In the same way, you and I need to recognize that God is the source of all things, so when I give to His work (for example, when I give my tithe), I am not really allowing God to have 10%, He is allowing me to have 90%! Actually He gives me 100% and then trusts me to do what is right in the stewardship of all He blesses me with! Therefore, I must seek to always remember that all that I am, all that I have, and all I hope to be, I owe to God!
B. Giving reminds us of the temporary nature of this life - v. 15
David understood what James expressed in James 4:14:
"What is the nature of your life? You are [really] but a wisp of vapor
(a puff of smoke, a mist) that is visible for a little while and then
disappears [into thin air]." - James 4:14 (Amplified)
When Marilyn Monroe died in 1962, her former husband, Joe DiMaggio ordered a black vase filled with fresh roses to be set on her crypt twice a week forever. The roses arrived promptly each week until 1971, when "forever" must have ended.
Despite our best intentions, nothing of this world will last forever, except those things which have been invested in the work of God. That which is invested in the work of God will always reap ETERNAL dividends!
C. Giving reminds us that our ultimate accountability is to God - v. 17-19
David realized that God is not so much interested in the amount we give as he is in the attitude with which we give.
He also realized that while one cannot be truly devoted to God without giving of themselves to God’s work; it is possible for one to give to God’s work without being truly devoted to God!
Jesus spoke of these kinds of people in Matthew 6:1:
"Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven." - Matthew 6:1 (NIV)
The fact is that when we stand before the throne to have determined what our reward will be in eternity, it will not be our fellow men who will be seated upon the throne - it will only be us and God! He is the One to whom we will answer! This is only fitting, since He has invested so much in us. Realizing all God has invested in us and our ultimate accountability to Him, we should humbly give of ourselves, not with the idea of what others might think of us, but with the idea of honoring the One who has given us so much!
Paul speaks in 2 Corinthians 8:1-9 about the churches in Macedonia, who serve as examples to us all of how to give to God’s work.
"Now, friends, I want to report on the surprising and generous ways in which God is working in the churches in Macedonia province. Fierce troubles came down on the people of those churches, pushing them to the very limit. The trial exposed their true colors: They were incredibly happy, though desperately poor. The pressure triggered something totally unexpected: an outpouring of pure and generous gifts. I was there and saw it for myself. They gave offerings of whatever they could--far more than they could afford!- pleading for the privilege of helping out in the relief of poor Christians.
This was totally spontaneous, entirely their own idea, and caught us completely off guard. What explains it was that they had first given themselves unreservedly to God and to us. The other giving simply flowed out of the purposes of God working in their lives. That’s what prompted us to ask Titus to bring the relief offering to your attention, so that what was so well begun could be finished up. You do so well in so many things--you trust God, you’re articulate, you’re insightful, you’re passionate, you love us--now, do your best in this, too.
I’m not trying to order you around against your will. But by bringing in the Macedonians’ enthusiasm as a stimulus to your love, I am hoping to bring the best out of you. You are familiar with the generosity of our Master, Jesus Christ. Rich as he was, he gave it all away for us--in one stroke he became poor and we became rich." - 2 Corinthians 8:1-9 (The Message)
Additionally, when God’s people give generously . . .
2. People Are Inspired - vs. 1-9
When the offering was totaled, everyone was amazed and inspired by what God had done among His people! In the same way today, people are inspired when God’s people respond to the needs of God’s work through generous giving!
God can take a little that is given out of a spirit of humility and obedience and use it to inspire others! The widow’s mite continues to inspire people to this day! The example of the Macedonian churches inspired the church at Corinth! And whatever you or I give to God’s work in a spirit of humility and obedience, can be used of God to inspire others! You see, it is not necessarily those who have the money to give that God uses in His work - it is those who give from the money they have!
It has been said that a genuine Christian is not only forgiven, but forgiving and for giving, while the world is not forgiven, not forgiving, and not for giving! Can others recognize the genuineness of your faith through your giving lifestyle?
When the U.S. Treasury issued the Susan B. Anthony Dollar, it was in circulation for only three years. It was not a coin people were interested in using, so it was withdrawn from circulation. Why? Because it was looked too much like a quarter!
Likewise, many unbelievers are not inspired to embrace Christ as their Savior because the lives lived by God’s people look too much like those who don’t claim to belong to God. Too many Christians are just as self-absorbed as non-Christians!
But when God’s people give generously to God’s work, that is, work that makes a difference in people’s lives, through their local church, the world pays attention.
Every Christian should aspire to inspire before they expire!
Our obedience to God can be used by Him to inspire believers to faithfulness and unbelievers to faith!
Finally, when God’s people give generously…
3. God Is Glorified vs. 10-13; 20
In 2 Corinthians 9, where Paul speaks about the privilege of giving to God’s work, he concludes his discussion by saying, "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" - 2 Corinthians 9:15 (NIV). Giving to God’s work is a privilege! Giving is a privilege because through giving of ourselves to God’s work, God is glorified!
Perhaps you’ve seen the movie "Miracle." It’s the story of the 1980 U.S. ice hockey. Coach Herb Brooks decided that rather than trying to assemble superstars, he would seek team players.
The U.S. team ranked seventh in the eight-team field for the 1980 Winter Games and had the toughest schedule. First came Sweden, and down they went to defeat. Next it was Norway, then the Czechs, followed by Rumania, and finally West Germany. The outcomes were the same. The U.S. team came together as a team and won, always with a scoring burst in the third period.
Finally, all that really stood between the Americans and a gold medal was the Russian team. Many hockey observers were quite sure the Russian skaters could compete quite handily in the NHL. No one gave the Americans a chance against them. But when the third-period horn sounded, it was U.S. 4 and U.S.S.R. 3! The U.S. team brought honor to their country; and even people who didn’t have the least bit of interest in the game of ice hockey were fans of that team and were impacted by their victory. That was their moment in history.
Folks this is our moment in history. We choose to rise to the occasion and obey God in the area of giving. As we do, God will be glorified, His work will move forward, and those who presently not even interested in the claims of Christ will be drawn to the Savior!