I Samuel 2:1-21; Psalm 113; Judges 14:1-16:22
I think I’ve told this story before, but I thought of it again as I read I Samuel today. When I was in high school, our youth group wanted to go to a national convention in Colorado. We had bake sales, car washes, and our church hired us to clean the church once a week to earn money to go.
One Saturday I was sweeping the foyer when a lady I didn’t recognize barged in and asked, “Is the treasurer here?”
“He is downstairs,” I replied. “Do you want me to go get him for you?”
“No.” Then she shoved an offering envelope at me. “Give this to him,” she commanded. “And tell him I don’t want a dime of this going to that preacher.”
With that, she turned on her heels and walked away. I stood there, dumbfounded, for a second. Then I leaned the broom against the wall, and headed downstairs to find the treasurer. I handed him the envelope, and I remember feeling embarrassed as I relayed the woman’s message.
“Don’t worry about it,” he reassured me. “She does this all the time.”
The account in I Samuel is actually about the people receiving the offering. They had the mistaken idea they had the right to decide where that offering went. And they were bold enough to demand the best for themselves and the priests.
Today God is speaking to me about giving, about my role in the financial support of my church. We recently started a new capital campaign to raise money to build a new facility on the north end of the island. Right now we are meeting in what used to be the parking garage for the stores located on the first and second floors. Its nice, but it would be great to have our own place.
I gave to the first capital campaign, and when it was time to pledge another three year commitment I had to do some figuring. I’m retired. My income never changes. Do I continue to give what I’d been giving, or do I take a step of faith and up it? What about my general giving?
I was reminded that there are places in Scripture that talk about a 10%, and there are places that speak about giving it all. Moses told the people to give as God prompted them, and they gave so much he ended up asking them to quit giving.
The Bible also tells me God loves a cheerful giver.
Today I feel God would have me be less concerned about the number of zeros on my check, and more about my obedience to Him when He puts that number on my heart. He knows if I’m being honest or not. I want to be obedient.
I also feel God wants me to give that offering with palms up, willingly, joyfully, not trying to control where “my” money goes and doesn’t go.
Then, and maybe this is the most important thing about what God is saying to me today, I need to be in earnest prayer for those who are given the job of deciding how the money will be used for God’s glory. There is a huge responsibility attached to that. In speaking about the servants of the priest who took the choicest offering for themselves, Scripture tells us:
This sin of the young men was very great in the Lord’s sight, for they were treating the Lord’s offering with contempt. (I Samuel 2:17)
It’s the Lord’s offering, His money, not mine. I want to be faithful to give as He prompts me, and to give with palms up. Then I’ll pray that every dime is used in ways that furthers His Church, honors Him, and blesses people in Jesus’ name.