Of Your Own We Have Given You

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. For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. 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.
(1 Chronicles 29:14–16, ESV)

As Israel approached its national apex, the elderly David blessed God by stating the obvious: "God, we offer you back your own stuff." Is this your thought as you pitch your offerings into the collection plate at church?

As David's spoke these words, he demonstrated the characteristic that defined his best times. He loved God, and he often recalibrated his life’s compass so that it pointed truly towards him. Oh… David wandered off course a few times (and probably more often than the Bible gives record), but his love for God always brought him home — or better yet. God's love for him always brought him home.

God developed David through humble beginnings. First, David was the youngest, not the eldest, son — a position of honor in that culture. Second, he served his father as a shepherd, not a warrior. He spent many hours in unheralded solitude. Perhaps this is why, even at the dizzying heights of kingship, that David sought out the Lord in humble adoration — because his life spoke to his humility. David knew his humble estate, and he knew that God lifted him up over all the people. Furthermore, he knew that all his glory and all his substance were God's; even as a King, he would ask, "Who am I that the Lord should consider me?"

King Solomon, on the other hand, was raised in privilege — in the household of the King. His was not that defining experience of humble labor, nor was he the last in honor among sons. He labored not in the pastures as did his father, and as the son of David's beloved Bathsheba, Solomon's household position was top tier. He started well, of course, asking for wisdom to lead this great people. This showed a studied humility — one which God honored greatly; the kingdom rose to its apex on Solomon's watch. But he went off course (he went way off course) toward the end of his reign. If he had his father's compass, he did not refer to it.

As a 21st century American, I am a child of privilege like Solomon. God has placed me in a palace (so to speak) where I do not worry about subsistence-living, and although the USA is evil enough, I enjoy the reasonable expectation of making it through the day unmolested. In much of the world, people spend their days in fear — fear of thugs, thieves, murderers — fear of their own governments! These people see the Lord through eyes that I cannot know. Where I peer through the filters of material wealth and a life of comfort, many others seek the Lord purely — unencumbered by such things. Let me ask then, who is better off? Those who live in developed nations or those who live more hand-to-mouth? He who calibrates his compass by pointing it to God is better off. Our relative prosperity is a non-issue in pleasing God or in doing his will.

God placed many of us here in America. As such, we enjoy an abundance of safety and goods. On one hand, God asks so little: give of our substance. So, think about this. He gives us all the stuff that we have… and then challenges us to give back a small portion. But on the other hand, God asks so much. He wants everything — our lives, our love, our all... and why not! We had nothing coming in, we shall take nothing going out and we only have what God gave to us in the first place. In this we should follow David’s lead: Give unto God. Give with a humble heart… and why not. Everything comes from him.

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