When Moses was planning the building of the tabernacle during the wilderness journey he had very specific instructions direct from God Himself. In order to fulfil these it was necessary that Moses should draw on the resources of the people of God who accompanied him. The help they were asked to give had to be given voluntarily; there was no compunction and no complaint against any who failed to give. Not all were able to give the same and the amount given was dependent on the personal resource of the giver and the willingness of his heart. The gifts were brought by both men and women and comprised to a large extent of the materials personally available to them. Those who gave were described as having willing hearts; wise hearts; and hearts that were stirred up.
Furthermore, in the end the people gave too much and had to be restrained from giving any more! Clearly their hearts were willing, wise, stirred up and overflowing.
Today, as then, there is much that His people can give, provided that their hearts are willing.
1. Giving Myself
Before anything else God requires me to give myself to Him. ‘Give me thine heart’ is still the divine command and we recall the New Testament believers who ‘first gave their own selves’ before contributing other things.
Believers are of course no longer their own; they have been bought with a price and the outcome of that is that they must glorify God in their mortal bodies. There are many demands on an individual today but as believers we need to give ourselves to the Lord. Paul advised Timothy in connection with divine things, ‘Give thyself wholly to them that thy profiting may appear to all’. As we recognize the cost of our redemption we should be willing to put the Lord first. It is wise to do so because with Him in the pre-eminent position everything else will fall into line. Thus consecrated our hearts will be stirred up within us and will overflow as we lay ourselves at His disposal.
2. Giving Worship
Another thing that God requires from the believer is worship. Worship is our moving towards God, prompted by His love and guided by His Spirit. Worship may be offered publicly or privately, communally or individually, and again the four heart conditions outlined will influence this. Firstly, we must have willing hearts. Worship is not enforced against the will; but believers readily come together to worship and with preparation of heart towards God in love, to His glory.
In worship the heart must not only be willing, but also wise. This is so whether in public or private worship. There are some things that may be acceptable in other circumstances, but which in the worship of a holy God are unsuitable. Wisdom in addressing the Father and the Son is learned by the Holy Spirit, and excludes everything which is of man.
As we approach God willingly and in wisdom our hearts will be stirred up. We will respond with wonder to the glory of God in Christ and will be able to appreciate the worship of others, thus enlarging our own thoughts of the Lord. As we do so our hearts will overflow as we consider Him.
3. Giving Time
Time is a precious commodity. It is also a decreasing commodity and should therefore be used wisely. Due to the needs of the body and the ordinary demands of life about 75% of individual time is already accounted for. This leaves for the average person only a few hours per day available to God. Many, however, experience difficulty in finding even a few minutes daily for the God of their salvation. He requires time from the believer not only on the Lord’s Day but on every day of the year.
If we are to be successful in allocating our time, so that God is not robbed, we must have willing hearts. There must be a determination on our part not only to give God the time we have left over at the end of the day, if any, but to make time for Him. The hymnwriter was aware of this when he penned the words, ‘Take time to be holy, the world rushes on; spend much time in secret with Jesus alone’.
So, too, the allocation of our time must be done wisely. We must not neglect our job, family, nor health: but then there are nearly 9000 hours available each year and a lot can be achieved if we give only a small proportion of this. The more time we give the more we will want to give. We will be stirred up and as we joy in the time spent for God, so our desire to give Him more will increase.
Time cannot be recalled. Once gone it is gone for ever. Let us not waste this precious commodity given to us by grace but dedicate as much as we can back to the God who gave it.
4. Giving Money
Money is hard earned and once we have it we may find that we are reluctant to part with it, or at least what we do spend is normally on our needs and pleasures. There is basically nothing wrong with this. Each person should work to provide for himself and those of his own house, but it is wrong to neglect God in this. A proper assessment of money will help me in this respect. 1 need to be aware that it is possible to be rich and yet have nothing; that riches can take to themselves wings and fly away; and that the love of money is the root of all evil. I must realize that all I have has been loaned to me by God.
As we have seen in other matters the starting place here, too, is a willing heart. We must determine to give through the assembly funds and privately as well. Scripture teaches that believers should give regularly and in accordance with how God has prospered them. We are reminded, too, that the Lord loves a cheerful giver. We should give in a wise-hearted way, supporting the assembly, the Lord’s servants and special needs among the Lord’s people and in the world at large.
The amazing thing about giving of our means, is that we find that what we give finds its way back to us. This experience stirs up the heart and encourages exercise in these practical affairs. So we should determine to give to the Lord and His work in a willing, wise, enthusiastic and unrestrained way.
‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’, says the Bible. There is much that we have available either to give or to waste. Our worship, our time, our money and our own selves are all invaluable to God. Let us therefore give these things willingly, wisely and freely to the glory of God.