Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Gratitude or Greed?



Grateful Giving

Chronicles 29:1-20

“But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you (v. 14).

In David’s prayer, he gives three reasons why we should give gratefully:

First, everything I have comes from God. 

“O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own” (v. 16).

Many people will not acknowledge that everything good comes from God. Paul writes, “Although they knew God [through creation], they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him” (Rom. 1:21). Mankind refused to give thanks to God for His blessings. Instead, they “worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (v. 25). It’s sad that many people are now saying “Turkey Day,” rather than “Thanksgiving Day.”

Before the Israelites entered the promised land, Moses warned them, saying, “Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth” (Deut. 8:17-18). As James writes, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17).

On January, 31, 1957, the Canadian Parliament proclaimed: “A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed…is to be observed on the second Monday in October.” The purpose of Thanksgiving is to thank God for all of the blessings that come from Him.

Second, God is the owner, and I am the manager. 

For all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all” (v. 11). The manager of McDonald’s doesn’t say to the owner, “Sorry, you can’t have a hamburger.” The owner has entrusted the manager with his business, but everything still belongs to the owner. The same is true with us and God. I can give nothing to God that doesn’t already belong to Him.

Third, my ability to give is a gift from God. 

“‘Who then will offer willingly, consecrating himself today to the LORD?’ Then the leaders of fathers’ houses made their freewill offerings as did also the leaders of the tribes, the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, and the officers over the king’s work” (v. 6).

The people gave 5,000 talents of gold (v. 7). What is the current value of 5,000 talents of gold? One talent is about 75 pounds, which means 5,000 talents would equal about 374,000 pounds. The current price of gold is $1,637/oz (USD). So 5,000 talents (374,000 pounds) of gold would be worth $9,822,000,000!

“Then the people rejoiced because they had given willingly, for with a whole heart they had offered freely to the LORD. David the king also rejoiced” (v. 9). God could force us to give, but He allows us to give willingly.

If something like this happened today, what would be the focus of the new reporters’ stories? Probably the generosity of the people. But to whom did David give the glory? God, not the people. “Therefore David blessed the LORD in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: ‘Blessed are you, O LORD, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever’” (v. 10).


Are You Grateful or Greedy?

“I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you” (v. 17).

We can either be grateful for God’s grace or greedy for our own gain. Whether we are grateful or greedy affects our lives in many ways.

Money: The grateful person says, “God gives. Therefore my money is His, and I use it to glorify Him.” The greedy person says, “I earn. Therefore my money is mine, and I use it however I please.”

Possessions: The grateful person says, “I have enough” (contentment). The greedy person says, “I never have enough” (coveteousness).

Service: The grateful person says, “I want to serve.” The greedy person says, “I want to be served.”

Giving: The grateful person says, “How much can I give?” The greedy person says, “How much must I give.”

After asking the Corinthians to contribute to an offering to help struggling Christians in Jerusalem, Paul exclaims, “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” (2 Cor. 9:15). God’s gift is the sacrifice of His Son (“gift”). God’s gift is too amazing for words (“inexpressible”). God’s gift is worthy of our utmost gratitude (“thanks”). And God’s gift should inspire us to give (cf. 2 Cor. 9:1-14). Does only 10% belong to God. No, everything belongs to God. And this truth applies not only to our money but also our time and energy. Giving flows out of gratitude.