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By Rev Charles Seet

Preached at / Published Life BPC 10:45 am service, 2006-07-23

Text: 1 Chronicles 29:1-19

This topic is quite relevant to us now because of our present Beulah Project to which many of us have given. There are some spiritual lessons we must learn about giving to the Lord, otherwise our giving would be no different from the way people give to any secular fund raising campaign, where the focus is merely on the amount given and the time it takes to reach the target. What we will see from our study of God's Word is that the Lord is not concerned only about the amount we give to Him. What is of greater concern to Him is why we give what we give. This is the very root of the subject of giving: 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? 

It would be an interesting exercise to determine the real reasons why people give their offerings or service to God. Not all give for the same reason. Some people may think that God actually needs their contributions, and that without their valuable help God's work simply cannot go on. Others may regard their giving or service as a form of payment for their membership in church. To them what they give is like a membership fee, or like buying a stake in a corporation. I know of one cult group in the Philippines that is very rich, because it makes giving compulsory for all its members. If a member forgets, he will receive a visit from officers of the cult to collect the cult's dues from him.

Then there are people who give to the Lord for another reason: 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. 

At one time it was even taught that a person could buy God's forgiveness and salvation from Hell by paying large sums of money. In the 16th century there was a gigantic church building project - the building St Peter's Basilica in Rome. The Pope of Rome was hard-pressed to raise funds to construct this costly edifice, and in order to speed up contributions he sent out monks all over Europe as salesmen to sell indulgences. These indulgences were really forgiveness certificates endorsed by the Pope.

One salesman by the name of Johann Tetzel composed a jingle to increase his sale of indulgences 'As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul out of Purgatory springs.' 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. What we want 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. They make a deal with God, and say to Him: 'God, if you will give me a successful career, a good family, a big house, a nice car, a good business, and everything that I want, then I promise that I will give you back 10 % of my earnings, I will faithfully attend church, and I will give you two hours of service every week.'

I hope we can all see the basic problem with all of these reasons for giving. They all fall far short of what the Bible says should be the reasons for our giving to God. This morning we are going to look into God's Word to see the reasons that should motivate our giving to God, and even for the building of God's House like the Beulah project. We will do this by studying the Old Testament passage in 1 Chronicles that describes the life of King David.

In chapter 29 of 1 Chronicles, 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, even though he was their king and had the authority over them to do this. 

Instead, he only encouraged the people to give their free-will offerings to build the Lord's House. Please turn your Bibles again to the very last chapter of 1 Chronicles. At this time David was nearing the end of his life. He had gathered all the people together and had told them about his intended building project for the Lord. Now in this chapter we see David and all the people giving their offerings for this great project. And as we study it we will discover three important reasons why they gave to the Lord.

1. Because the Lord Deserves the Very Best (1-5)

In v.1, David said to all the congregation of Israel, 'Solomon my son is yet young and tender, and the work is great: for the palace is not for man, but for the LORD God.' We notice in this verse that King David gives the reason why the work of building God's House needed so much funds and needed to be done well: It has to be like a palace fit for a king. And this palace was not just going to be the house of any ordinary king, but the palace of God Himself. And 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. How could David live in a royal palace, and then build a little shack for God to dwell in? That would be unthinkable. God deserves the very best we can give, because He is none other than the Most High God.

Let us continue with v.2 - Here David says to the people, 'Now I have prepared with all my might for the house of my God the gold for the things of gold, and the silver for the things of silver, and the brass for the things of brass, the iron for the things of iron, and wood for things of wood....' David was now telling the Israelites what he himself was contributing to the whole project.

In v.3 David went on to say, 'Moreover, because I have set my affection to the house of my God, I have of my own proper good of gold and silver, which I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house.' King David clearly 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 to glorify God. And therefore he wanted God to have only the best.

I think we can all understand what it is like to desire our loved ones to have the best. Many of us here are parents. And when you love your children, you naturally want to give what is best to them. You try your best to feed them with nutritious food and give them all the vitamins they need. You worry about them and stay awake when they are sick. You buy them educational toys and books that can help them develop to their fullest potential. You do your best to help them in their studies, so that they would get into a good school. And as good parents, you may even be willing to sacrifice your own comforts for your children. For nothing brings greater joy to you than to see them contented, doing well and growing well!

Now, if you can understand what it is to want the best for your children, then you would be able to understand what it means to want God to have the best. Now the purpose of giving the best to God is of course different from the purpose of giving the best to your children. God does not need you to provide for His needs or to help Him in any way. He is all-sufficient, and needs nothing at all for the whole world is His and the fullness thereof (Psalm 50:12). But remember that God has done much more for you than anyone else in this world. He has also done far more for you than what you deserve to receive from Him. And for that reason He surely deserves to receive the best of your giving to Him.

Let us now return to our passage of scripture to see what King David did next. He had already set an excellent example of giving for his people, and now in v.5, he 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. But there is something 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 his service.' It is a technical term that was is used in the OT to describe the ordination of the priests - where there is a strong connotation of dedication or devotion for service. This implies that our giving to God is not just an act of giving our surplus funds or our spare time to Him, like when one gives to a charity). It is an act of devoting ourselves to Him totally, and keeping nothing back from Him. And this act is a privilege that is not given to all, as we will see now as we come to the second point of this message.

2. Because It Is Our Joy and Privilege to Give To the Lord (6-9)

In verses 6-9 we see the good response that David received from the people: 'Then the chief of the fathers and princes of the tribes of Israel, and the captains of thousands and of hundreds, with the rulers of the king's work, offered willingly, and gave for the service of the house of God of gold five thousand talents and ten thousand drams, and of silver ten thousand talents, and of brass eighteen thousand talents, and one hundred thousand talents of iron.' Translated into modern terms, the people gave about 170 metric tons of gold, 340 tons of silver, over 600 tons of brass and about 3,400 tons of iron. And the value of all that today would really be staggeringly enormous! 

What a tremendous response the people gave to David's call to give free-will offerings for the building of God's House. If all Christians today were to give like that, there would surely be no lack of funds for the Lord's work to be done today. However, in some churches any suggestion made that the congregation ought to give for God's work like that would draw instant criticism! 'Why give so much?' What surprises us then is that 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, 'Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the Lord and David the king also rejoiced with great joy.'

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 nor as their obligation, but as their privilege. 

It is an awesome privilege to be able to give to God who is the Great 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 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.

3. Because All That We Have Comes from the Lord And Rightly Belongs To Him (10-16)

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 - this principle applies to you - 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.

This important principle can be seen in the passage of Scripture we are studying. Let us read verses 10-13, where David prays after he sees how greatly the people had given to the Lord. He prayed: 'Blessed be thou, Lord God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever. Thine, O Lord is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.'

Let us pause here for a moment and consider these words. The truth being emphasized in David's humble prayer before God is that ultimately all that we are and 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 realizing that. The very least we should do is to thank God and praise Him for that. 

Let us continue with vv.14-16 'But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee. For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding. O LORD our God, all this store that we have prepared to build thee an house for thine holy name cometh of thine hand, and is all thine own.'

We see here that no one has the right to be proud of how much one has 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 support all the Lord's ministries, we can still have nothing to 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 that because he is unable to give as much to the Lord as he 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. 

Let us read v.17 'I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things: and now have I seen with joy thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly unto thee.' 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 the Gospel of Mark, 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 (perhaps worth only 5 cents each). But Christ knew who among all of them was the one who 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, if there is any person here who thinks that he should be spared, excused or exempted from giving to God, then let him also be excused from Loving God. Let every member of God's family in Life Church - whether old or young, the adults, the youths as well as children therefore 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.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

October 15 & 22 - The Cost of Discipleship

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:25