It is amazing to me that all of the wealth that was being brought to the feet of Moses for the construction of the tabernacle was by and large the wealth of Egypt. The Israelites were slaves in that land and if God had not caused the people of egypt to look favorably on the people of Israel when they left they would have left with little. But scripture says that it was in this way that Israel plundered Egypt. God blessed Israel mightily when they left Egypt, not only in the freedom they would gain from bondage but in terms of material wealth as well. Now we see several months in that God is having them build a tabernacle to worship and honor him in. He is not random in his requests and he has caused his Spirit to move on people, filling them with the special skills and craftsmanship necessary to complete the project.
But when the people are told what would be needed they were not told that they had to give anything toward this project. What we read (several times in fact) is that they willingly chose to give, That those who gave were those whose heart was moved inside of them to give. This tells me that this was not everyone. It indicates that there were those who gave and those who kept what plunder they had been given.
Even more amazing is that there was so much brought that they had to restrict what was being given because there was too much for what was needed. Now that is generosity.
Another thing that I noticed in today's reading was that the people were bringing things not listed as being needed in the construction. Things like earrings, broaches, and other gold jewelry as well as other items that could have easily been justified in the minds of the people giving them as being not worth keeping. "These earrings are really not that big" , "This broach is shaped like one of the Egyptian gods, surly God would not want this in the construction of his tabernacle, I may as well keep it." There were reasons for reasons why the fabric really did not need to be donated, or the silver, bronze, and wood.
The point is this. Not a lot has changed in regards to the way we think about the "things" we have been blessed by God with. There is always a justified (at least in our minds) reason for not giving back to the Lord or worshiping him with our generosity. But we have so much to be thankful for and so much that we have not been worthy to receive from God. (i.e. grace, salvation in Christ Jesus) The question that not only applies to this topic today but to our entier life, which I have been pondering these last couple of weeks, is the question that I believe God is asking us; and I asked it of our THIRVE young adults group last night.
Is He Worth It?
Do we really believe that Jesus is really worth it? Worth laying down yourself to follow him and worth letting go of all we have to be with him. Do we really believe that Jesus is SO good, satisfying, and rewarding that we will leave all we have/own and all we are in order to find our fullness in Him? Do we really believe Him enough to obey him and to follow him wherever He leads, even when the crowds in our culture - and maybe in our church even - turn the other way? Or are we content to make sure we are comfortable and follow as long as it doesn't cost me time, energy, wealth or personal comfort?
I trust that these are very heavy and probing questions. Last night we looked at Matthew 13:44 - "The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field." There is a lot of back story that is not written here. Think of what his friends and family would have been thinking and saying to him as he liquidated all he owned to buy "some ordinary field". But he knew something that they did not, and he was willing to do what it took to make sure that he had the treasure he knew was there.
Our culture will tell us of another field that we should devote everything we have too. A field that is worth selling all we have to own. But is that field the same field we read about in Matthew. I would propose that it is not.
Please hear me when I say that I am not proposing we all go liquidate our assets and give it to the church. I am merely asking us to take stock of what value we place on Jesus Christ in our lives and am addressing a heart issue we will all wrestle with. Like the people of Israel, I want to be a man who generously gives, and makes available, all my skills, all of myself, and all my stuff to the glory of his kingdom. I want to be someone who freely gives from what God has given and blessed me with, not because I have been coerced to. I want to be, and I hope that you do too, the man does all I can do to experience the joy of "owning" and "digging" in the right field.
Lord be my Treasure