27 January 2010

Rejoice in the "want" not the "what"

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. They gave for the service of the house of God 5,000 talents and 10,000 darics of gold, 10,000 talents of silver, 18,000 talents of bronze and 100,000 talents of iron. And whoever had precious stones gave them to the treasury of the house of the LORD, in the care of Jehiel the Gershonite. 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 greatly. (1 Chronicles 29.6–9)
It was a phat lot of cash that Israel had collected in this capital campaign for the first temple. At $1000 per ounce, 5000 talents of gold is somewhere around $6 billion dollars - and that's just the beginning of the giving. I don't know how this all came together, but I imagine some giant pile of treasure that the dragon Smaug would love to call home. It is hard to imagine NOT celebrating at the shear magnificence of it all. Yet, the celebration was about something more than bling. The people understood something about humanity and, therefore, this act was miraculous for more than shear quantity.

Naturally, we are pretty greedy little buggers - all of us. That doesn't mean we aren't charitable, it just means that we don't enjoy our giving. We'll do it, for the benefit of gaining some religious merit, but we won't like it as much as getting. A new economy like the one described in the words of Jesus, namely, that "it is more blessed (happy) to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35) is simply miraculous. A change in the human heart from greedy to generous is worth celebrating and it is the promise of the Gospel:
Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jeremiah 31.31–34)
"the people rejoiced because they had given willingly" - Rejoice in the "want" not the "what" - the heart not the results.


Post a Comment