Some friends came to visit us yesterday, bringing with them the gift of a huge bag of runner beans. They grow them in their garden, and had far more than they could ever use. We were delighted, and I’m looking up recipes for runner bean soup. Even so, we may have to pass some on to others, as I think there are more than we can use; so the blessings cascade out!
God was giving Moses instructions for a new project, and materials were needed (Exodus 25:1-7). He was looking for donations. But he wanted them from people who really wanted to give. No coercion, no demands, no begging letters. Our friends were delighted to share their produce, and that’s the sort of giving God looks for. He loves it when we give cheerfully. In fact, he doesn’t want to receive what we don’t want to give – 2 Corinthians 8:12, 9:7. I don’t think I’d be enjoying my runner bean soup if my friends had handed me the bag saying, “We suppose we’d better give you these; we’d prefer to eat them them ourselves but we thought we’d better bring you something or it would look bad.”
Yet I know I’ve sometimes had that attitude towards God if I’m honest. With regard to money sometimes, but maybe even more with regard to time and effort. “I suppose I ought to put in an appearance.” “I suppose I ought to make an effort.” “It’ll look bad if I don’t.” Others don’t see what I put in the offering basket, but they do see what I help out with. So the temptation is there to do it for the sake of appearances, not because it pleases God.
So should we only give – money, love, time, effort – if we feel like it?
The people who donated the materials for the tabernacle didn’t really know what it was all going towards – they just wanted to share what they had. But can you imagine how it felt, when the saw the finished product, and recognised some fabrics, or skins they given, woven in to this amazing construction, and knew they’d played a part in it? I wonder if any others felt sorry or ‘left out’ afterwards because they hadn’t given when they’d had the chance?
The church might not look much in its construction here on earth. But when I see it in its completeness, in glory, I don’t want to wish I’d put more in. I want to be proud of the part I played in building it.