Friday, February 10, 2017

The prison of the temporary. . . was surely a gasp among the people of Israel.  David, coming near the end of his reign and life, had stood before the people and with him, Solomon, his son and successor.  David had wanted to build a house for God but it was not given to him.  Nevertheless, that did not keep David from designating the treasury of Israel and his own personal fortune for the cause that eluded him.  He acknowledged that Solomon was young and inexperienced and would need the help of the people of God even with the help of the Lord Himself.  Then David prayed:

“Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. [11] Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. [12] Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. [13] And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.

[14] “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. [15] For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. [16] O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own. [17] I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you. [18] O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you. [19] Grant to Solomon my son a whole heart that he may keep your commandments, your testimonies, and your statutes, performing all, and that he may build the palace for which I have made provision.”   (1 Chronicles 29:10-19 ESV)
And then David died, Solomon sitting in his place upon the throne, to fulfill what David did not live to see -- the building of the Temple.

It is strange that our temporary nature more typically moves us not to give but to spend what we have in pursuit of bucket lists, wishes, dreams, and things designed to give us a full and rich life (or at least the illusion of one).  David was confronted with his death, with the fragile character of this mortal life, and it moved him not for himself but for the Lord and for the Temple that would live on until it was replaced by the Temple of Christ's own incarnate flesh.  The people of God followed his lead and they gave without regret or fear or hesitation.
[20] Then David said to all the assembly, “Bless the Lord your God.” And all the assembly blessed the Lord, the God of their fathers, and bowed their heads and paid homage to the Lord and to the king. [21] And they offered sacrifices to the Lord, and on the next day offered burnt offerings to the Lord, 1,000 bulls, 1,000 rams, and 1,000 lambs, with their drink offerings, and sacrifices in abundance for all Israel. [22] And they ate and drank before the Lord on that day with great gladness. (1 Chronicles 29:20-22a)
Giving problems are seldom problems with a lack of resources (think of the widow and her mite).  Giving problems are always faith problems.  We do not believe.  We do not believe that God will supply our need.  We do not believe that the future prepared for us will be greater than the one we can fashion for ourselves with money, dreams, and time.  We do not believe that the life God has prepared for us can make us forget what we will leave behind upon this earth (and so we are determined to leave nothing behind).

If our resources belong to the Lord, if they can are temporary in the face of His eternity, then what keeps us from giving generously, willingly, cheerfully, and regularly to the cause of the Church, toward the work of the Kingdom, and to accomplish eternal purpose with temporal resources?  It appears to me that giving, as always, is a faith issue and not a monetary one.  When we begin to learn this, just perhaps we may find our way out of the prison of self and things to serve the Lord with all our mind, body, strength, will, and resources!

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