Summary: In 1 Chronicles 29:1-17, God teaches us eight lessons on giving to his work. These are lessons that we need to learn and apply to ourselves.
There is a story told about Ivan the Great who ruled Russia as Czar in the 15th century. He was a warrior, a fighter, and a conqueror of kingdoms. The Soviet Union, as we knew it about twenty years ago, was basically put into place by Ivan the Great.
Ivan was so busy doing battle that some of his comrades became concerned because he hadn’t taken time to get married and have a family. They came to him and said, “You’ve got to get married because you’ve got to have an heir to the throne.”
But Ivan said, “I want to do battle and to conquer more territory. You go find a wife for me.”
So they did. Ivan’s men found a wife for him. She was the daughter of the king of Greece, a beautiful girl. They said to Ivan, “We found a wife for you, but there’s one problem.”
“What’s that?” he asked.
“If you’re going to marry her, you have to be Greek Orthodox,” they said.
Ivan the Great said, “Well, if you think she’d make a good wife for me, that’s no problem. I could be Greek Orthodox.”
The king of Greece was thrilled with the marital alliance because it meant that Ivan wasn’t going to invade his territory. So the Greeks sent tutors to Russia to tutor Ivan and five hundred of his elite soldiers, every one of whom was a great warrior. The soldiers required tutoring because Ivan said, “If I’m going to be Greek Orthodox, then they’re going to be Greek Orthodox too.”
The Greeks tutored all these men in the Greek Orthodox faith. Finally Ivan and his soldiers went to Greece for the wedding.
But, before the wedding, they had to be baptized into the Greek Orthodox Church. It was an incredible sight. Thousands of people came to watch Ivan the Great and his five hundred soldiers all wade into the water at one time to be baptized by immersion into their new church.
Five hundred soldiers with full armor and five hundred Greek Orthodox priests were standing in the blue water of the Mediterranean Sea for the baptism. Suddenly, the king of Greece said, “Hold it! We’ve got a problem!” The problem was that in the Greek Orthodox Church you could not be a warrior and a member of the church at the same time.
So they held a hastily-called diplomatic meeting in the water to ask, “How are we going to work this out?” They came up with a simple answer. Just before the priests immersed the soldiers, each man took out his sword, held it high above the water, and allowed the priest to baptize everything but his arm and his sword.
This came to be known as “the unbaptized arm.”
Many of God’s children today have unbaptized checkbooks. They have dedicated every part of their life to God except their money. Someone once said, “The last thing to be converted is our pocketbook.” Why is that? I believe that Christians fail to dedicate their checkbooks to Christ because they believe one or more myths about money and giving:
• Myth 1: My money and possessions belong to me.
• Myth 2: I can’t afford to give. If I give, I’ll go in the hole financially.
• Myth 3: My attitude toward money and giving has no relationship to my spiritual growth and life.