2 And Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whose mind the Lord had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him up to come to do the work. 3 And they received from Moses all the contribution that the people of Israel had brought for doing the work on the sanctuary. They still kept bringing him freewill offerings every morning, 4 so that all the craftsmen who were doing every sort of task on the sanctuary came, each from the task that he was doing, 5 and said to Moses, “The people bring much more than enough for doing the work that the Lord has commanded us to do.” 6 So Moses gave command, and word was proclaimed throughout the camp, “Let no man or woman do anything more for the contribution for the sanctuary.” So the people were restrained from bringing, 7 for the material they had was sufficient to do all the work, and more.
Some of my best friends in the world are in a church that is currently working through a building project. The sanctuary in which they are meeting is too small to accommodate the people who would come to worship. Their parking lot is too small to hold the cars of the people who would come to worship. The leadership of the church simply knows that the size and location of their current building is a hindrance to the ministry that they are doing.
Thus, the church I’m speaking of is in the process of trying to get a new building started. They have a glorious location, much better than their present spot, with lots of land and room for building and parking and much more. They have a design all done. The people of the church have agreed that the new building is the direction that they should go. It sounds like everything is going wonderfully, except for one thing—money. The building that this church plans to build to expand their ability to reach people in their community will not be built until the people can give enough to get the project rolling.
Why bring this up today? I can assure you it is not because I want to build anything where I currently am. No, but it does bring to mind an interesting thing that is happening in churches all over the world. Because of difficult economic conditions and differing patterns of commitment, churches all over the globe are finding themselves in financial need. People just are not giving like they used to. People are frightened for their futures, and they are less open-handed. Even the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention has found itself unable to send as many missionaries as are willing and qualified to go simply because of a lack of funding.
Contrast this modern state to the time of the building of the tabernacle in Exodus. When it was time for the people to all chip in for the building of a portable temple of God to be carried with them through the desert, there was no begging required in the building campaign. No, the leadership put out the call to the people, and the people gave. They gave, and gave, and gave. In fact, the people gave so much toward the work of the Lord that we have what may be the strangest building campaign call we have ever heard. Moses and the leaders sent a message out to the people, saying, “OK, we have way more stuff than we can ever use. Please stop giving.”
Now, my heart in this post is not to make you feel guilty about your giving to your local church or mission agency (though if that happens, I won’t feel too bad either). My purpose is to ask, “What is the difference between the people of Israel and our people today as it regards giving?” Those people had the wealth to give, that is true. But they also were wandering through a desert with no visible means of provision. They had to rely on God from day to day in order to be fed. They may have been given some gold by God, but they were not so wealthy as to not have to worry about starving to death if God were to remove his hand of provision.
We have also been given provisions by God. God is taking care of us. It may seem like we are only living from day to day, but we are certainly still being taken care of by God. Here then is the question: Why do our hearts not move us to give as did the hearts of the people in the desert? Think carefully about the answers you might want to give.
· You might say, “They gave more freely because they saw the provision of God every day.” Are you, then, going to say that you do not see God’s provision daily?
· You might say, “They had a clear cause to give to in the tabernacle.” Are you then going to argue that you do not have a clear cause to give to in the giving of your tithes, your general offering, your special mission offerings, and the general maintenance of the church? Is obedience to the call of God and giving to the glory of God not enough of a cause for you?
· You might say, “We are having hard times and we just can’t afford to give at present.” Are you then going to argue that the God who fed the Israelites in the desert and who promised you that he knows and will meet your needs (cf. matt 6:33) cannot take care of you today?
· You might say that God moved the people’s hearts to give. Are you then going to say that God’s call for you to give freely, generously, regularly, and proportionately to the cause of Christ is not enough to move your heart?
We could go on and on here, and I would in fact start bordering on unfair, guilt inducing practices. I don’t’ want to do that. I do want us to see, however, that our giving is a reflection of our hearts. God has given his people enough to accomplish all the ministries he calls us to do—I totally believe that. The problem is not that there is not enough money to do what needs to be done, but that we are not trusting enough in our God to give as he has called us to give.
Lord, I see how you moved the hearts of your people to give with such joy and freedom. I pray that you will move my heart in just the same way. Help me to stop wasting my funds. Help me to stop trusting only in myself. Help me to give freely, cheerfully, faithfully, joyfully, sacrificially, proportionately, and for your glory. Where I am tempted to refuse to give freely, root out that sinful heart and replace it with one that is totally given to you.