- I Chronicles 29:9a (NKJV): “Then the people rejoiced, for they had offered willingly, because with a loyal heart they had offered willingly to the Lord.”
- 2 Corinthians 9:7 (ESV): “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
WHAT’S IN YOUR HEART?
HOW WILLING ARE YOU to give of your time and your talents? Really give, unselfishly give, without counting the cost to you, giving because we serve a God who willingly and graciously gave His life for us?
In a recent devotional, I read the story of Israel’s King David offering his possessions for building the Temple to honor God, when he asked the assembly, “Who then is willing to consecrate himself this day to the Lord?” (1 Chron. 29:5b NASB20)
The text tells us the assembly leaders responded first and did so willingly, and then the entire assembly responded willingly. As a result, the entire country, from king to leaders to the assembly, rejoiced because they had responded willingly.
God uses the word “willing,” “willingly,” or a substitute term, liked “rejoiced” five times within five verses — three times in one verse — to underscore His point.
It’s not enough, He says, to do something unselfishly, it must be done willingly.
TRYING TO FAKE IT
THERE’S NO USE trying to fake it, either.
The Bible tells us that while we might fool one another by smiling through clenched teeth or covering our discontent with a heartier-than-necessary “of course I’ll do it,” we won’t fool our Creator.
Consider these verses:
- 1 Samuel 16:9b (ESV): “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
- Psalm 44:21 (NASB20): “Would not God find this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart.”
- Luke 16:15 (NIV): “And He said to them, ‘You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts.’”
- John 2:25 (NLT): “No one needed to tell him [Jesus] about human nature, for He knew what was in each person’s heart.”
- Acts 15:8 (CSB): “And God, who knows the heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us.”
There are more verses, but those make the point, don’t they?
REAPING THE BENEFITS
DON’T MISS THIS PART. God imparts a blessing when we give willingly and graciously.
Nehemiah 2:18 (NKJV): “And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me. So they said, ‘Let us rise up and build.’ Then they set their hands to this good work.”
Nehemiah 4:9 (ESV): “And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.”
In both of those verses, taken from Nehemiah’s account of the post-exilic Jews rebuilding the Jerusalem wall, we see the faithful (1) praying to God for help, strength, and direction, and (2) acting in concert with God’s will.
It’s not enough to have “good thoughts” and wonderful intentions, our God wants us to call out to Him, to be in fellowship with Him, and to fulfill His design for us, His will for us, by acting.
It’s in the acting that we receive the blessing.
Check out this promise from God recorded in Malachi 4:10 (NASB95):
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.”
Here’s how author Henry Blackaby describes it:
“When you trust that God always gives His best, you will devote your heart to whatever assignment God gives because you know in that role you can experience everything God has in His heart for you.” Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God. Kindle, Loc. 431.
RESPONDING IN FAITH
NOW, IT’S UP TO US. What are we going to do with the gift of love that our Lord has lavished on us? Are we going to be obedient servants and follow through, or are we going to chart our own course?
To word it another way, how do the experiences of David and Nehemiah and Malachi, as interesting as they may be, relate to our lives today, to your life and my life?
You can see how it relates to you as I share how it relates to me:
In my life, where I’m called to live out what I write about in my blogs, I must confess I often struggle. In my current situation, where my wife’s heart tells her we must relocate from South Carolina to Maryland’s Eastern Shore to be closer to her family and mine, I have been dragging my feet.
Not only that, and to my shame, I’ve made it a point to tell everyone that I am not pleased with the situation. Recently, my wife scolded me, saying she’s tired of hearing what a martyr I am for giving up my life and my dream to move farther South, when she insists we relocate to the North Pole (my sarcasm) just to chase her dream that (in my view) is not likely to materialize.
You can see my struggle to being obedient to the Lord.
As I gather in prayer each day, petitioning the Lord to change my heart, I find a growing countercurrent, bringing me closer to my wife, to our shared experience, and to my Lord’s guiding touch.
IT’S NOT BY ACCIDENT that a Christian friend reminded me just days ago of a Henry Blackaby book, Experiencing God, he gave me, which I’m now re-reading.
I’m now on the section where the author points out that God loves us and that His commandments are designed to benefit us and give us the abundant lives He offers.
1 John 5:3 (HCSB): “For this is what love for God is: to keep His commands. Now His commands are not a burden.”
(See Jeremiah 29:11 and John 10:10 for additional Scriptural support.)
If we know God, Blackaby tells us, we’ll love Him, trust Him, and obey Him. (Blackaby, Experiencing God, Kindle Loc. 485)
The next section of Blackaby’s book capsulizes the point we’re exploring perfectly: “God is all-knowing — His directions are always right.”
It’s not for us to crow when we obey. Our salvation is assured through grace, not our good works, but we do have this assurance: We will have done our jobs.
Listen to what our Lord says:
“So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” — Luke 17:10 (NIV)
FATHER GOD, our Creator and Sustainer, we thank You for being a gracious giver, who gives willingly to mankind, created in Your image. How shagrined we are, O Lord, to admit we are not as gracious in response with our time and our treasure and our talents — all of which You gave us to glorify You. Please forgive us and empower us to be worthy servants, just doing our duty. In the name of our Savior, Jesus the Christ, we pray, AMEN.