April 4, 2016

2 Samuel 24:24 But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”
So David bought the threshing-floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them.

This is a significant story that shows us more of why David was pleasing to God. The amount he chose to pay in silver for the land would not be insignificant even today (though by land prices in Tokyo it was pretty cheap). The whole point is that a sacrifice is a sacrifice, which is distinct from an offering. These days we think of everything in terms of money, but initially it was agricultural products, and when they were gone, they were gone. That was the whole point of a burnt offering: no one but God got any of it. With fellowship offerings, the fat was burned up but the meat was eaten by the worshipers. That was one reason festivals were such happy occasions: everyone got to eat meat. What David did here was different, burning the entire animal so that it was totally given to God. The closest New Testament parallel that comes to mind is the story of the widow who gave God all she had to live on. (Mark 12:41-44) God honors giving like that. Sadly, these days any time the whole matter of giving to God comes up, “Prosperity Gospel” comes into the picture. There are exceptions, but much of that becomes “giving to get,” so that the motive is actually greed. It is entirely true that “We can’t out-give God,” as they are so fond of saying, but the “return on investment” is seldom directly financial. When we give to God in sincerity He does bless us, but our motives are of the utmost importance.

This is an awkward subject for me, as I think it is for most people. We’re all conflicted on the matter of money! I grew up with tithing as an ingrained habit, but got away from it for a while as a young adult. I was already married and a father when I came under conviction, with Cathy, that we needed to be tithing, but there was always more month left at the end of the money, and it didn’t seem to be possible. However, when we chose to take the tithe out first, as soon as the money came in, there was actually money left at the end of the month! Tithing first has been our practice ever since, for 40+ years now, and though there have been lean times, God has always met our every need. Understanding both how much God has already done for us, and that His supply is literally infinite, makes that part of it easy. At the same time, we are constantly bombarded with requests for money from many directions, and many of those are indeed worthy causes. Rather than turn off to them automatically, I need to ask God what, if anything, He wants me to do about each one. It is a privilege and a joy to be a channel of His supply, but my motive and my direction must always be Him, and nothing less.

Father, thank You for this reminder. I don’t have wisdom in myself to deal with all that You place in my hands, so I ask You for that wisdom. May I be a faithful steward, not just of what I give to the church, and not just in finances, but in every area of my life. May I return to You what You give to me in ways that are fully pleasing to You, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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