Providing for the House of God

God has told us a great deal about His house: we know what it’s for, we know how to feel about it, we know why having a building is worth it, even though it takes money, effort, and time to keep it going, and we know what God’s house should look like.

Now we come to the issue of financing God’s house. We need to know how to pay for it! Fortunately, He tells us. Here in 1 Chronicles 29, God shows us how He provides for His house through the contributions of His people. We see in today’s text and in other places, God’s houses are not built with tithes, but with offerings, free gifts given to God over and above the ten percent that God commands. God builds His house through freewill offerings.

And as we look at the particulars of the offering for the temple recorded here in 1 Chronicles, I want us to look at three lessons from David’s leadership in conducting this offering: David’s example, his motivation, and his appeal.

Example: David had been using his position as king to begin storing up the raw materials for a long time, and so there was already a large supply. But since David is so devoted to God’s house, he ransacks his own treasure in order to give even more to God. He ends up personally giving over half of what it takes the rest of the nation to give. This is what happens when friendship with God expresses itself in devotion to God’s house. These are the actions of a heart that longs for the courts of the Lord! This is also sacrificial servant leadership: David gives first, and shows the people how to give, and in what measure.

Motivation: David explains that his giving is motivated by his devotion to God’s house. He publicly displays his devotion in a quantifiable way. This is scary stuff for many of us, who would rather keep things vague and general. But Jesus told us that where our treasure is, that’s where our hearts are. David’s treasure shows that his heart is given to God, and his giving was simply motivated by devotion to God’s house.

Appeal: After presenting his offering, David calls the people to join him in giving to God. Many people cannot see the difference between an appeal and manipulation, especially coming from the mouth of a leader, but an appeal is not necessarily manipulative. An appeal simply announces the occasion for giving, in itself it is not the motivation for giving. David himself gave freely, and invites the people to join him, with no undue pressure or hidden expectations, and the results are an overflow of resources for building God’s house.

When you think about it, it is remarkable that God’s people could pull this off. The descendants of a wandering shepherd pooled their resources, and built one of the most magnificent structures in the world. How is that even possible? This gets to the second half of today’s text, David’s prayer of thanks and praise. In it, he reminds the people that everything belongs to God, and so Israel is simply returning God’s gifts back to Him.

And when we share this perspective, it is much easier to give willingly and joyfully. After all, this is how we receive the whole world, isn’t it? We come into the world with nothing, and for a short time we rearrange stuff through our work, making money, living our lives, and offering it all up to God. And when it comes to a place of worship, the example that we see in Scripture is that God’s house is paid for by glad gifts freely given by people whose hearts delight in meeting with God.

It is important to see that the result of this kind of giving is joy. Giving to God should feel more like buying an engagement ring and giving it to someone you love than like filing your taxes. This is because David and all the people know that giving to God’s house is investing in God, which yields a harvest of thirty, sixty, even a hundredfold. The blessings of God’s house make every sacrifice worth it, and so the people rejoice that they have freely given to the house of God.

Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 by CJ Bowen