(1 Chronicles 29:1-19)
At the very root of the subject of giving to God are the following questions: Why should we give of our time, our talents and treasures to the Lord at all? What are the right reasons for giving to God? There are various reasons why people give their offerings or service to God. Some people think that God actually needs their contributions and that without their valuable help, God’s work simply cannot go on. Others regard their giving or service as a form of payment for their membership in a church. To them what they give is like a membership fee, or like buying a stake in a corporation. Then there are people who give to the Lord because they want to solicit blessings from Him in return. To such givers, the whole scheme of giving is quite similar to a business transaction, where blessings such as peace, health and prosperity are bought with money, or with service.
There was also a time when it was even taught that a person could buy God’s forgiveness and salvation from Hell by paying large sums of money. This was in the 16th century during the building of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The Pope, being hard-pressed to raise funds to construct this gigantic edifice, sent out monks all over Europe as salesmen to sell indulgences. These indulgences were really certificates of forgiveness of sin endorsed by the Pope. The result of this terrible abuse was that people felt free to sin as much as they liked, since after that they could just purchase the forgiveness certificates to escape punishment for these sins. This aroused the indignation of many true believers at that time, including a German monk named Martin Luther. This eventually brought about the movement we know today as the Protestant Reformation and all the rest is history.
The important thing to note is that it all began with a church-building project and the sale of indulgences to raise funds for it. Today of course, indulgences are no longer being sold, but many people today still believe that they can buy blessings from God or perhaps even forgiveness from God with their gifts or with their service. The basic problem with all of these reasons for giving is that they all fall far short of what the Bible says should be the reasons for our giving to God. What, then, are the three things that should motivate our giving to build God’s House?
In 1 Chronicles 29, King David desired to build a House for the Lord, but God had told him that this task would not be accomplished by him, but by his son, King Solomon. So, David did the next best thing he could do: He began to make all the preparations that were needed for the building of the Temple of God, so that Solomon would have everything he needed when he started to build. But how would David obtain sufficient funds for such a big project as this? We can imagine that as the supreme ruler of a mighty nation, he would have several options available to him. He could make an attractive offer to all who will give generously to the project – by granting them certain benefits and exemptions from public service if they gave. The more they gave, the more benefits they would receive. Alternatively, David could impose a heavy tax upon all the Israelites and simply force them to give their money for this public project. But David did not do either of these things. Instead, he encouraged the people to give their free will offerings to build the Lord’s House. This is consistent with the instruction that God gave to Moses when He asked the Israelites to build Him the Tabernacle in the wilderness (Exodus 25:1-9). In the passage read to us earlier, we can discover three important reasons why they gave to the Lord.
In the first place, the Lord deserves the very best (vv. 1-5). In verse 1, David gives the reason why the work of building God’s house needed so much funding and needed to be done well: It has to be like a palace fit for a king, and not just any ordinary king, but God Himself. God, being who He is, naturally deserves the very best. In David’s mind, building a less glorious building would be a terrible insult to God. God deserves the very best we can give, because He is none other than the Most High God. In v.2 David went on to tell the Israelites what he himself was contributing to the whole project. In v.3 David revealed that he wanted God to have the best because his heart was filled with love and devotion for the Lord. He wanted to honour the Lord, and glorify God. Having set an excellent example of giving for his people, he now in v.5, poses a question to them: ‘And who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord?’ This is a clear invitation to give to the Lord. Then, something is interesting about this invitation. David did not simply say, ‘Who then is willing to give unto the Lord?’ Instead of using the word ‘give,’ he used the phrase ‘consecrate himself.’ This implies that our giving to God is an act of devoting ourselves to Him totally and keeping nothing back from Him.
Second, it is a joy and a privilege to give to the Lord (vv. 6-9). The Israelites who gave so much to the Lord, were not in the least upset, sad or grieved at all to part with all that wealth. Instead, v.9 says, “ 9 The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the LORD. David the king also rejoiced greatly.” Why were they so happy? What made them all rejoice? The only reason they were able to rejoice in their giving was that they considered the act of giving not as their duty or as their obligation, but as their privilege. It is an awesome privilege to be able to give to God who is the Creator and Lord of the Universe. It is, in fact, one of the greatest privileges that mortal creatures on earth can ever have.
Just think about this for a moment. Can it be possible that such a great God as this who owns the whole world, and who needs nothing from anyone, can be honoured by receiving gifts from insignificant mortal beings like us? What can we give unto Him that He does not already have? Everything belongs to Him. None of our gifts can make God greater than what He already is, or richer than what He already is, or more honoured than what He already is. But when God chooses to accept what we give to Him, and approves of it, and finds pleasure in it, then we are the ones who have had the special honour of giving it to Him. It then becomes our joy and our privilege to give to the Lord. This alone should make us more than willing to give to the Lord. But there may be some who will say, ‘What you have just said is absolutely true and I heartily agree that the Lord deserves the best and it is a great privilege to give Him gifts. But it cannot apply to me. You see, I am not rich. What I have is just enough for me to live on. Surely the Lord would not expect me to give to Him. Even if I were to give, it would make no difference because it is so insignificant. So let those who are more substantially endowed be the ones to give to the Lord. Let them enjoy the privilege of giving, I cannot afford that privilege. So let me be excused from giving anything to the Lord.’
Dearly beloved, if you think like that, then I am afraid, you would not only be denying yourself a great privilege, but you would also be claiming more for yourself than you should. Because no matter how poor or financially strapped you may be, one fact will always remain constantly the same, and that is: All that you have, even though it may not be very much, still comes from God. Without God, you would not even have these things; you would not even have a life to live.
Third, all that we have came from the Lord and rightly belongs to Him (vv. 10-16). In David’s prayer after seeing how greatly the people had given to the Lord, he emphasised the truth that ultimately all that we are and all that we have, comes from God alone. Our ability to give whatever we give also comes from Him! And it would be utterly foolish for anyone to go through life without realising that. The very least we should do is to thank God and praise Him for that. Therefore, it does not matter if you are rich or poor; it does not matter if you are employed, unemployed, or retired; it does not matter whether you are a working adult, student, or even a young little child. Whatever you may be, everything that you are and everything that you have comes from God and rightly belongs to Him. You are merely a steward of everything that you have.
David went on to acknowledge, in vv. 14–16, that no one has the right to be proud of how much they have given to God. There is really nothing to boast about since we are only giving Him what is already His. Even if we were able to give more than enough to complete this building project, we can still have nothing to be proud about, because we would only have given back to God what is rightfully His own. Why then does God give us what we have, if it is meant to be given back to Him? And why does God enable some to give back more to Him than others? What purpose is there in all of this? The purpose is not to see who can give more to the Lord. Neither is it to make anyone feel sad because they are unable to give as much to the Lord as they would like to. The purpose behind it all is that our hearts may express our love for God through giving to Him willingly.
Giving back to God what is His with willing hearts, reveals how much we really love Him. In verse 17, we read, “17 I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things have I given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.” When we give anything to the Lord, whether it is from our earnings, or our service, or our time, or our talents, what God looks for is not the amount we have given, but rather the motives and the attitudes behind them. In Mark 12:41-44, it is recorded that our Lord Jesus Christ was watching the people giving their offerings at the Temple one day. He saw the rich giving large amounts of money. And then he saw a poor widow giving only two small coins. But Christ knew who among all of them loved God the most: it was not the rich who had given so much, because they still had lots of money left for themselves after they had given. But it was the poor widow, because those two small coins she gave were all she had, and she had given all, keeping nothing for herself. She gave it willingly and lovingly, out of a grateful heart. Dearly beloved, as we give or pledge to give to the building fund today, let everyone here, whether old or young, learn to give to God out of a willing heart, because He deserves the best from us, because it is our privilege to give to God, and because all that we have ultimately belongs to God.
Your eternal salvation and spiritual well-being are our concern. If you wish to receive Jesus as your personal Lord and Saviour, you can pray the following prayer to God: “Dear God, I thank you for sending Jesus into the world to die for my sins. I repent of my sins right now and invite Him into my life to be my Lord and Saviour. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
If you offered this prayer to God, please write to let us know through the address below. You are also invited to join us in worshipping the Lord every Sunday in Yoruba language at 7.20 a.m. and in English language at 9.00 a.m.
- Good News Baptist Church,
47/49, Olufemi Road,
Off Ogunlana Drive,
P. O. Box 3781,