Today’s Readings: 1 Chronicles & 1 Matthew 18-25
It was about 24 years ago when I was sitting in our Sunday church service and listening to our Senior Minister preach a sermon on this final chapter of 1 Chronicles. You see, we as a church community were about to start a building program that would provide a bigger facility to enable ministry to expand.
‘It’s not about brick and mortar, but about lives changed for Christ’ was the vision we were to be reminded about time and time again. And when the task seemed huge, again, we were reminded that this was something only God could do.
‘The task is great, because this (palatial) structure is not for man, but for the Lord.’ 1 Chronicles 29:1b
The leadership of our church followed the same action David did, when he told the people of God how much he would be financially contributing, as the leader. Unheard of!! Why would one be so upfront and so vocal, especially when it comes to money??
Again, as I’ve read and re-read this passage, I’m transported back to that time in the history of our church, where many people did in fact rejoice in the leadership and embrace the opportunity that they could be part of God’s plan to reach the lost in a very tangible and long lasting way.
As I reflect back, there are a number of things I can recall that were important lessons for me:
- There were many people who gave sacrificially and very generously, who would never see the completion of the building – and knew that would be the case at the time – but that didn’t stop them giving. In so many ways, we may never see the fruit of our labour, whether the work of our hands or the outcome our prayers or our financial giving.
- There were faithful saints who prayed for an expanding influence of the gospel into our community and beyond who are now in glory.
- There were some who left a financial legacy to the church (with no strings attached) before the vision for the facility was ever spoken about.
- There will always be people who complain and grumble …
It’s so very easy to want to hold tight to what we have materially; a constant battle that starts as children, when we need to be taught from an early age what it means to share. A tug of war starts as one child holds tight and the other pulls, with the cry ‘she won’t share with me’ and the response, ‘but it’s MINE!’
David put’s it very simply when he says, “But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” vs 14
This verse is one that I know I constantly need to remind myself of, especially when it comes to being generous. It’s not that I have given, but rather the reminder that it’s God who allows me to keep some …
“I know my God that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things have I given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willing your people who are here have given to you.” vs 17
Today, I am still part of the same church community and yes, we have an amazing facility. Time and time again I’m reminded as ministry unfolds across the week and events are held, what a blessing it is to have such a home base. But I pray I (we) never get complacent or believe we’ve arrived; it was never about the bricks and mortar, but about the lives that would be changed (and have been changed), by the grace of God!
What David started he never saw finished, but what he did see and experience throughout life was a God who was forever faithful. David understood that he was part of God’s greater plan for his people, and in David, God saw a man with an incredible heart.
My prayer … the we as God’s people today, would have the same hearts of integrity, that seek to bring glory to God in all we do … that hold very loosely onto the material things of this world.