4Moses spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, “This is the thing which the LORD has commanded, saying, 5‘Take from among you a contribution to the LORD; whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as the LORD’S contribution: gold, silver, and bronze, 6and blue, purple and scarlet material, fine linen, goats’ hair, 7and rams’ skins dyed red, and porpoise skins, and acacia wood, 8and oil for lighting, and spices for the anointing oil, and for the fragrant incense, 9and onyx stones and setting stones for the ephod and for the breastpiece. (Exodus 35:4-9, NASB)
As I write this, a few friends of mine have made great sacrifices to pursue a calling in their lives to follow the Lord in learning how to establish first century style churches that are built on a foundation of living by the Lord’s indwelling life as a community, and fulfilling the Father’s eternal purpose in creation to have a bride for His Son, a dwelling place to rest in, and a family to visibly share and express His great love.
As the brothers in our church met and prayed for one of these brothers as he prepares to depart us, my thoughts moved towards the willingness expressed in these brothers and sisters to let go of what they know and to embrace the Lord’s way.
It is interesting that in the Exodus passage above one observes that God is commanding Israel to offer precious materials for the building of His temporary, physical dwelling place on earth, the tabernacle (continue reading Chapter 35), yet His command is only for those who have a “willing heart.” There is a condition that precedes the contribution, and it is a heart condition. The giver must be fully yielding to the Lord and His ways.
Let us not for a moment think that the Lord’s dwelling can be built by offerings given from a motivation of fear, guilt, shame, or manipulation. The giver being sought by the Lord is one who gives everything utterly to Him to use in whatever way He sees fit.
I believe that whatever the Lord seeks to build visibly is actually a picture of something invisible or spiritual. The tabernacle is a picture of the Son, Jesus Christ. Just as God desired His temporary, physical dwelling to be built through willing, loving hearts, so does Jesus build God’s spiritual temple today with those who willingly, without reservation, lay down themselves for His purposes. Jesus is the perfect representation of God, and He also does not build with guilt, fear, shame, or manipulation.
This kind of willingness to follow the Lord requires us to lay down many things. It may even require us to give up things that are very good in our eyes.
– Our own desires to have stuff, whatever that stuff may be. It could be a house, a new car, an education, a career, security, living in one location, building a financial portfolio, being near family and/or friends, our reputation, our comfort, and so on.
– Giving up the easy, quick ways of the world and the flesh, for the longsuffering ways of God. We may often not understand these ways, or even think that we have better ideas than Him; yet the deep things of the Lord only come about when His life is the source of everything.
– Giving up our control. Giving up control of ourselves, our money, our future.
– Giving up our plans. I’m not against planning ahead, and I think it is wise to do so; however, I believe it is essential to remain mindful of the Lord’s direction to change our plans at any time. A person who has a willing heart will always be open to this.
Note that there is no mention of quantity in the passage above. He does not say, “If you are really, really rich, and you are willing, then give some to Me.” The condition is to give willingly and the Lord will use what is brought for His purpose. In the building of the Lord’s spiritual house today, I believe He is still looking for “whoever has a willing heart”, regardless of the wealth of their spiritual gifts. The Lord can do much more through a willing servant with little gifting than a stubborn servant with much gifting.
I believe that our fellowship has done as the Lord requested, to “Take from among you a contribution to the LORD; whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as the LORD’S contribution” for the purpose of building His house.
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