“Then the people rejoiced because they had given willingly, for with a whole heart they had offered freely to the Lord.”
1 Chronicles 29:9
I don’t know about you, but most of the time when I’m giving money away, I’m not quite as joyful as these people seemed to be. A lot of times, I’m tempted to think about what I could be using that money for or how much I could keep saved up instead. In short, it’s hard to give joyfully to the Lord when you’re focused on yourself.
This verse is split into two sections. The first says that the people were rejoicing because they had willingly given of their own possessions. The second part tells us why that was cause for celebration. The key word is “for.” It’s the same as saying “because.” It tells us that the phrase that follows is going to give us a reason for what was said before. So what is the reason? The people were joyful because they had offered freely and with a whole heart to the Lord.
They weren’t thinking about themselves, they were thinking about what they were giving their money for. They were overjoyed because they were able to contribute something to the work of the Lord. Shouldn’t we feel that way too? We can. It’s just a matter of perspective.
These offerings that the people made were going to help build the Temple of the Lord. It was an extravagant and beautiful temple that required a lot of labor, material, and money to build. The people were excited to contribute to that need. Their focus wasn’t on themselves or what they were missing out on. Their focus was on the collective good that they could do. When I think about the money that I often give less than willingly, I wish I could keep it so that I could buy myself some new clothes, some good food, or save it up for the future. I’m thinking about the relatively small conveniences that money would afford me. What I’m not thinking about is the impact that that relatively small amount of money can have when combined with that of the community of believers who are also contributing.
If I were thinking about that, as the Israelites were, I too could be overjoyed. Don’t be fooled, just because we’re not building opulent temples anymore doesn’t mean that there isn’t good work to be done! The Body of Christ does so much good in this world, and if not for the Christians who contributed, large or small, it wouldn’t be possible. Not to mention, of course, that money is a fleeting idol that can never bring the joy or satisfaction that Jesus can. We cling so tightly to our money even though it’s nothing. It’s like trying to keep sand from slipping between your fingers. The only solid thing that we can cling to is God. So why not invest our resources in Him instead of clinging all the more to it as it slips through our fingers?
Give me a generous heart. Help me to see the big picture, and to give freely and with a whole heart to your work. Let me not be a lover of money but a lover of you and your people.
In Jesus’ Name,