Freely Giving What Was Freely Given

This morning, I conducted two chapel services at Morning Star Assisted Living. After attending the late service at Timberline Church we came home to watch the Broncos in the AFC Conference Championship game. With the struggles the offense had, the defense had the right to feel like they were, “hitting the ball and dragging Charlie.” After Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips struggles was a head coach, I am pleased to see him make his mark as one of the most successful defensive coordinators in the NFL.

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…  Take up an offering among you for the Lord. Let everyone whose heart is willing bring this as the Lord’s offering: gold, silver, and bronze; blue, purple, and scarlet yarn; fine linen and goat hair….” Exodus 35:5,6 HCSB Then all the craftsmen who were doing all the work for the sanctuary came one by one from the work they were doing and said to Moses, “The people are bringing more than is needed for the construction of the work the Lord commanded to be done.” Exodus 36:4,5 HCSB

As a pastor, I have heard and said many statements regarding giving. This especially applies to a “building project.” One of the those statements goes something like this, “The Lord has already provided all the money we need….it just is still in your pockets.”

The Lord gave instructions about the Tabernacle, its furnishings and the garments for the priests. The problem was those materials were not available, but what was needed was in possession of the people. When they left Egypt the Hebrews went to the Egyptians and asked for clothes, precious stones and anything they wanted to give. Scripture says, “they plundered the Egyptians.” As a result what the Lord had told Moses came true, they “carried the wealth of Egypt” with them as they left the country.

The Hebrew slaves were now enriched because of what the Lord had done and fulfilled in their midst. The Lord instructed Moses to ask for a “freewill” offering from the people. We find the detailed list of what they were to bring. The people responded generously and consistently to the point the craftsman said they had more than enough and to command the people to stop giving. (That’s the dream of every pastor!)

In these actions we see the people giving freely, of what they had received from the Lord. Generosity begins with that foundational understanding. When David gave and collected money, items and precious stones for the Temple, this is how he worshiped,  “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? For everything comes from You, and we have given You only what comes from Your own hand…” (1 Chron. 29:14 HCSB)

Our human perspective and diligent work and an expectation of good pay, makes it challenging to view what we have as coming from the Lord. There are words of an old hymn that I have never heard sung, but it declares,

O God who gives us life and breath,

who shapes us in the womb,

who guards our lives from birth to death,

then leads us from the tomb:

deliver us from fears that kill

the life we have from you;

help us to know your Spirit still

is making all things new.

When we recognize the Lord as our source of life and breathe and the one who secures our future we can trust Him and obey Him. That then frees us up to respond in obedience to what He puts in our hearts to do. When He speaks and we obey, we can be confident of His care and continued provision. Paul said, “For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.” (2 cor. 9:10 NLT)

Jesus told His disciples, “…Freely you have received; freely give. (Matt. 10:8 NIV) The Children of Israel with all of their flaws, were able to recognize and respond with that understanding. When we do the same, God is honored and His work in our communities and the world is expanded.