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It is written, “The Lord loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor 9:6-7) It’s one of those things even those who are a stranger to Scripture are familiar. It resonates with us because no one wants a “gift” that is grudgingly given.
When the first Tabernacle for the Lord was built in the wilderness, the Israelites were instructed to bring as they felt led. (Exodus 35:4-6, 21, Exodus 36:2-5) Again, when the Davidic Temple was built, the gifts were voluntary and David, while he was not allowed to build the temple himself, he did stock the supplies for his son, Solomon, to use in the construction. (2 Chronicles 29:1-9) He gave the most of all. Ezra’s reconstruction was also voluntary. (Ezra 1:1-6)
There are offering amounts proscribed in the Old Testament; however, it is clear when building His house, the special place where the Spirit of God would dwell, that it was important to God that all gifts be given without compulsion.
He wants a willing heart.
It is a picture of the transaction of salvation. We give of ourselves willingly, we choose to come to God, and in exchange, Christ sacrificed himself for us so that he could redeem us from the consequences of the wrongs we have done.
But it must be willing, we choose.
The Sacrifice of Generosity
Before Christ, the relationship between God and man was one of sacrificial offerings. This was true not only of the Jews and their God, Yahweh, but also with the Gentile nations and their gods.
Offerings had to be made for the gods to be appeased and hear their prayers.
The picture painted by the Levitical offerings is one of construction. The offerings of sacrifices of animal blood covered the sin of the person, and on Yom Kippur the nation, creating a holy space for the Spirit of God to dwell. There are accounts in the Jerusalem Talmud of the appearance of the Ruach Kodesh, the Holy Spirit, which left the Temple in Jerusalem permanently in 30 A.D.
But beyond the offerings before the priests, there are references to other sorts of offerings that spoke before the presence of God. Giving to the poor and defending the weak, the embodiment of justice and mercy also witnessed on behalf of the giver in the court of God.
Job was known as a generous man, one who gave to those in need. The Israelites were instructed strongly that there should never be a person in need even though there would always be those who had needs among them. They were to fill those needs without begrudging the gift. The Jews who asked Jesus to heal the servant of the Roman official used the Roman’s generous gifts to the poor as a justification for raising him to Jesus’ notice.
Gifts speak. Offerings brought as tithe are an acknowledgement of the true Giver and Provider of those resources. It is thanking God for his blessings. It also keeps wealth and the occupation of making money from claiming an unholy place in our minds. Those who are truly free from the love of money are those who freely give.
Short Circuiting Your Blessings
Sometimes we give and we understand the purpose. We know where that gift is going and how God uses it to his purpose. But many times we do not. It may seem as if the time, resources, and talents that we have given, believing it to be the will of God, seem to accomplish nothing but rather are thrown into a bottomless pit.
God gives us a few instructions about giving. First he tells us to give willingly. The second he tells us to give as if we are giving to God alone. It is written, “When you give, do not let your right hand know what your left hand is doing.”
If you give for acclaim, the acclaim is your reward.
If you give to put another under obligation, that is manipulating control and is actually witchcraft.
If you are giving for God, He will bless you.
Need is an Opportunity for Blessing
In your eyes, your gift may seem like a waste . . . As if it make no change. But what if God brought the need before you in order to create an opportunity for Him to bless you? Maybe He brought you into the situation to teach you to listen to and obey His voice. Maybe it is to develop in you more patience, to eliminate bitter roots, and to wipe out any sense of entitlement or of what you think you have a right to expect.
Maybe the situation is not about the person that you think you are ministering to, but about God making you more like Christ.
Moses was 80 years old before he was to the point where God could use him. It took Joseph languished under a foreign rule for years before he came with a humble heart and one without bitterness. Jesus was under authority for thirty years before he was anointed for an intense three year ministry.
If you are in the middle of a situation that feels like a test . . . It probably is.
Learn to respond well. The retake is always harder the second time around.