BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
Perhaps the subject of money has attracted criticism of the ministers of the Gospel more than anything else. There has always been much talk on the methods of raising money in church for the work of God or for the minister. Yet, the Bible is so clear as regards how money should be collected or raised in church to support the minister or for the advancement of the work of God. There are clear instructions and unambiguous examples.
God never forces anyone to give Him anything. He always wants our giving to be voluntary. That is the principle of God we see in matters of giving in the Bible. However, it does seem that some ministers, in their bid to raise money for themselves or to finance the projects of the church, violate the Scriptures. Nevertheless, no minister of the Gospel, no matter how highly placed, has God’s permission to violate His Word.
While giving to God or the minister of God and to the church in form of tithes, normal offerings or special offerings (seed) is biblical, God does not expect giving, tithing or seed sowing to be by compulsion. God loves cheerful givers, not grumbling givers. “You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. ‘For God loves a person who gives cheerfully’ and God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others” (2 Corinthians 9:7-8 NLT).
From this scripture, did you see anywhere Apostle Paul compelled or forced anyone to give in the early church? Even in giving to the poor, God wants our giving to be voluntary, not under compulsion. “Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do” (Deuteronomy 15:10 NLT).
I have heard before where a church leader asked members to give a certain amount to God and if they did not have, they should go and borrow it. They called this sacrificial giving. That’s plain religion. It is not in the Bible. That is not what the Bible calls sacrificial giving. Sacrificial giving is giving to God what is precious to you, which normally you would not want to give. Sacrificial giving is not giving what you don’t have. An example of sacrificial giving is what Abraham did when God asked him to sacrifice Isaac, and he wanted to do so before God stopped him and provided him a ram to sacrifice instead. “Then He said, ‘Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’ So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him” (Genesis 22:2-3 NKJV).
If Abraham didn’t have Isaac, God would never have told him to sacrifice him. He never told him to borrow a child to sacrifice! He was to give God back what He had given him. After God’s intervention to stop the eventual sacrifice of Isaac, the Bible says God, having proved Abraham’s love for Him, said, “‘Don’t lay a hand on the boy!’ the angel said. ‘Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son” (Genesis 22:12 NLT).
God gives seed to the sower
God will never ask a man to give what he does not have. The Bible says God is the one who gives seed to the sower; He doesn’t ask sowers to go and borrow what to give Him. “For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you” (2 Corinthians 9:10 NLT).
God must have provided you a seed to sow before He will ask you to sow. God gives both bread and seed, and you must differentiate between the two. Be careful you don’t sow your bread; it is for eating. Don’t starve yourself by sowing your bread. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty because you are eating your bread. Also, be careful that you don’t eat your seed; it is for sowing. If you do not sow your seed, you will deny yourself future harvests and experience lack.
Borrowing to give is unbiblical
There is no such example in the Bible of people going to borrow to give. The disciples did not place such a demand on the early church. Thus, we shall be wrong to introduce it in the contemporary church. If it were the practice in the early church, it the Bible would have recorded it for our example.
I know that Peter rebuked Ananias and Sapphira for keeping back part of the proceeds from the sale of their land while pretending that they were giving all to the apostles, as others had done. “There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need. For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means ‘Son of Encouragement’). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus. He sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles” (Acts 4:34-37 NLT).
The point is Ananias and Sapphira didn’t have to give anything. Neither did they have to give part of the money, pretending to have given all. They could have given what they had faith to give rather than pretend. And I don’t think the leaders of the early church would have rejected their money just because they didn’t give all like Barnabas and others.
The problem with the couple was not that they gave part; the problem was that they pretended to have given all the money from the sale of their land. “But there was a certain man named Ananias who, with his wife, Sapphira, sold some property. He brought part of the money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount. With his wife’s consent, he kept the rest. Then Peter said, “Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself. The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!” (Acts 5:1-4 NLT).
Some believers have gone to borrow money acting on strange instructions from the pulpit only to be regretting later because they never got the so-called harvests. Through such giving or seed sowing, the income of the church may have increased extraordinarily and the minister may have become happy, but, often times, there is no joy in the homes of church members as they undergo what I call post-giving dissonance!
The minister may have succeeded in getting his needs or the needs of his ministry met, but the people feel defrauded and offended. Paul told the Corinthians that he had not cheated anyone. “Open your hearts to us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have cheated no one” (2 Corinthians 7:2 New King James Version). He didn’t defraud or take advantage of them.
Ministers of God must avoid being seen as cajoling the people or coercing them to give. There should be no arm-twisting. Samuel had the confidence, just as Paul did, to say that he had not manipulated the people to cheat them. “Now testify against me in the presence of the Lord and before his anointed one. Whose ox or donkey have I stolen? Have I ever cheated any of you? Have I ever oppressed you? Have I ever taken a bribe and perverted justice? Tell me and I will make right whatever I have done wrong” (1 Samuel 12:3 NLT). Did you notice his confidence?
It was because he maintained integrity in relating with the property of the people. He did not defraud them in the guise that they were giving to God and His cause. He didn’t ask them to deny themselves and give to God when actually the project he was raising money for was probably driven by sheer ambition and not God’s project.
God knows how to finance His projects. The people will give cheerfully because God is moving their hearts. “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell the people of Israel to bring me their sacred offerings. Accept the contributions from all whose hearts are moved to offer them’” (Exodus 25:1-2 NLT). If it is God’s project, He will move the heart of the people. If it is the pastor’s project, the pastor will move the heart of the people through unbiblical means!
There are church members who give grudgingly because the invitation from the pulpit does not go down well with them and still expect to receive harvest for their giving. I tend to think that no harvest may come to them. God does not reward grumbling givers; He only rewards cheerful givers. Giving or sowing seed grudgingly is one reason that many believers have been sowing, but have not received the harvest they were told to expect. Yet, giving and sowing of seed is biblical. If the invitation to give does not go down well with you, don’t give grudgingly merely to please the pastor. You already have your reward, which is nothing.
If there is a demand on you to give a certain amount of money or offering, or to give something to God in kind, but you don’t have the seed or you don’t have the faith to give, don’t obey grudgingly and still hope that you will receive the harvest promised. Are you a grumbling giver or a cheerful giver?
When the poor widow gave all she had
Some ministers will even ask people to give all that’s in their pockets during the service or all they have at home so that they can experience the outpouring of God’s blessings. I wonder where such example is in the Bible. The example of the widow who gave her mite is not appropriate because she personally decided to give all. She was not compelled to do so or acting upon any invitation from the pulpit to do so. She dropped her mite – all she had. God must have moved her heart to do so. That is what should be allowed, not the minister telling the people to give all, only for those who complied to be regretting later. “Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on’” (Mark 12:41-44 NLT).
We must understand what Jesus was addressing by pointing out the widow’s giving. It was not that Jesus was encouraging comparison in giving, something wrong that I have seen some ministers do. Such ministers give more attention to those who give much not bothered about how they get the money; they give them preferential treatment and even special positions or offices. They pray for only those who pay!
Jesus was rather dealing with the rich who were stingy towards God. The case of the widow who gave all her mite, which Jesus pointed out, does not mean that God expects you to give all in your pocket or at home before He will accept your offering or seed.
It may be right to cite Psalm 126:5-6 to underscore people giving in their pain. “Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest” (NLT). Nevertheless, we must understand the context of that expression. God is promising restoration after a great loss. Imagine a farmer going back to farm after fire had ravaged his farm. The farmer will shed tears while starting all over. However, God is promising a great harvest that would compensate for the past loss. If the farmer can summon courage, if he can have faith in God, if he can forget the loss of the past and plant again, God promises a great harvest that will give him joy.
Psalm 126:5-6 does not mean that believers must give an amount or something that will cause them to weep before God will accept their offering and bless them in return! God’s principle is that each person should give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). God wants His children to give according to their abilities because He knows that they are not on the same level in life and they don’t have access to the same finances or resources to give. “All must give as they are able, according to the blessings given to them by the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 16:17 NLT).
God does not accept every offering
Any offering, sacrifice or seed not done voluntarily cannot be done cheerfully, and therefore, cannot be acceptable to God. People may offer it to God but He will not accept it. The pastor may accept it because it increases the income of the church and provides the much-needed supply to continue the church project, but God will not accept it.
God does not accept every sacrifice. That was why God rejected Cain’s sacrifice. Some pastors wouldn’t have seen anything wrong with that. Nevertheless, God was not looking for just any sacrifice. “When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. Abel also brought a gift—the best of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected. ‘Why are you so angry?’ the Lord asked Cain. ‘Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master’” (Genesis 4:3-7 NLT).
Why didn’t God accept Cain and his sacrifice? Verse 7 says it was because he didn’t do what was right in the type of offering he offered to God. God does not accept just any offering or special seed.
1 Peter 2:5 conveys to us the same truth that God will only accept sacrifices that satisfy or please Him. Men may not see anything wrong with it. If the sacrifice is offered to God, He must consider it pleasing before He will receive it. “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5 NKJV).
Hear what Paul says about acceptable sacrifice: “At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God” (Philippians 4:18 NLT).
Several other scriptures show that God does not accept just any sacrifice though the pastor may accept it because he is much more concerned about finishing his project or meeting his need or the need of the church. Jeremiah 6:20 says, “There’s no use offering me sweet frankincense from Sheba. Keep your fragrant calamus imported from distant lands! I will not accept your burnt offerings. Your sacrifices have no pleasing aroma for me” (NLT).
Hear also what Leviticus 22:21-29 says: “If you present a peace offering to the Lord from the herd or the flock, whether it is to fulfill a vow or is a voluntary offering, you must offer a perfect animal. It may have no defect of any kind. You must not offer an animal that is blind, crippled, or injured, or that has an oozing sore, a skin sore, or scabs. Such animals must never be offered on the altar as special gifts to the Lord. If a bull or lamb has a leg that is too long or too short, it may be offered as a voluntary offering, but it may not be offered to fulfill a vow. If an animal has damaged testicles or is castrated, you may not offer it to the Lord. You must never do this in your own land, and you must not accept such an animal from foreigners and then offer it as a sacrifice to your God. Such animals will not be accepted on your behalf, for they are mutilated or defective. And the Lord said to Moses, ‘When a calf or lamb or goat is born, it must be left with its mother for seven days. From the eighth day on, it will be acceptable as a special gift to the Lord. But you must not slaughter a mother animal and her offspring on the same day, whether from the herd or the flock. When you bring a thanksgiving offering to the Lord, sacrifice it properly so you will be accepted’” (NLT).
In Leviticus 7:18, God also states clearly that He would not accept just any offering. “If any of the meat from the peace offering is eaten on the third day, the person who presented it will not be accepted by the Lord. You will receive no credit for offering it. By then the meat will be contaminated; if you eat it, you will be punished for your sin” (NLT).
Moreover, in Malachi 1:6-14, God expressed His utter displeasure at the sacrifice being offered by the Israelites, unworthy sacrifices, which He said their governor would not even accept. God does not accept every sacrifice.
God’s command is to give voluntarily and not grudgingly “Let each one [give] as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves (He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is willing to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, “prompt to do it”) giver [whose heart is in his giving]” (2 Corinthians 9:7 Amplified Bible).
The New Testament: An American Translation uses simpler words to present that verse: “Everyone must give what he has made up his mind to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion; God loves a man who is glad to give.” Did you see that? There is no suggestion of any minister subtly or cleverly making the people give against their will. Their will was important to God. In fact, Isaiah 1:19 says, “If you are willing and obedient you shall eat the good of the land” (KJV). You must not only obey, you must also be willing before you can eat the good of the land.
Still speaking about 2 Corinthians 9:7, J.B Philips says, “Let everyone give as his heart tells him, neither grudgingly nor under compulsion, for God loves the man who gives cheerfully.” Even the services we offer to God should not be under compulsion but should be offered willingly. 1 Peter 5:2 says to ministers to, “Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God” (NLT).
The leaders of the early church understood the principle of willingness and voluntary giving of money and anything to God. They avoided doing anything that suggested that they were forcing the people. See the example of Paul in his letter to Philemon with regard to Onesimus, a run-away slave. “But I didn’t want to do anything without your consent. I wanted you to help because you were willing, not because you were forced” (Philemon 14 NLT). The Contemporary English Version says, “But I won’t do anything unless you agree to it first. I want your act of kindness to come from your heart, and not be something you feel forced to do.” Paul appealed to the willingness of Onesimus.
It’s not compulsory to make a vow
Even making of vows is voluntary; it is not compulsory. It is only binding once it is made. “When you make a promise to God, don’t delay in following through, for God takes no pleasure in fools. Keep all the promises you make to him. It is better to say nothing than to make a promise and not keep it. Don’t let your mouth make you sin. And don’t defend yourself by telling the Temple messenger that the promise you made was a mistake. That would make God angry, and he might wipe out everything you have achieved” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-6 NLT).
Because making a vow is voluntary, the Bible warns against making a rash vow like the one made by Jephthah (Judges 11:30-31). Though his vow cost him so much, he fulfilled it. However, there is nothing to suggest that he offered his daughter, his only child, as a burnt offering (verses 34-40). “Don’t trap yourself by making a rash promise to God and only later counting the cost” (Proverbs 20:25 NLT). The King James Version renders that word “promise” as “vow”. “It is a snare for a man to devote rashly something as holy, and afterward to reconsider his vows” (Proverbs 20:25 NKJV). Did you see that the Bible describes making a rash vow as a snare?
What God expects is that once you make a vow, you fulfill it, not to start making excuses. What should follow a vow is fulfillment. David said in Psalm 22:25, “I will praise you in the great assembly. I will fulfill my vows in the presence of those who worship you” (NLT). The writer of Psalm 50 says, “Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High” (verse 14 NLT).
The psalmist says in Psalm 116:14 says, “I will keep my promises to the Lord in the presence of all his people” (NLT). He goes further to speak specifically of paying his vows. “I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people – in the house of the Lord in the heart of Jerusalem. Praise the Lord!” (Verses 18-19 NLT).
Furthermore, Psalm 66:13-15 shows us the right attitude we should have towards the vows we have made. “Now I come to your Temple with burnt offerings to fulfill the vows I made to you— yes, the sacred vows that I made when I was in deep trouble. That is why I am sacrificing burnt offerings to you—the best of my rams as a pleasing aroma, and a sacrifice of bulls and male goats” (NLT). This is unlike some people who make vows while in trouble and just forget about it after their heart desires have been granted. They may forget but God doesn’t.
My focus is not to excuse you from giving or sowing seed. My focus is to ensure that your giving or seed sowing is according to the Scripture so that you can reap a bountiful harvest. My focus is to ensure that ministers don’t overstep their biblical bounds just in the name of raising money.
A minister said most Christians would not give or sow if you don’t push them. However, I say such pushing will be wrong once it violates the word of God. All a minister should do is to teach the people about financial responsibility to the Kingdom of God and the principle of sowing and reaping. Afterward, he should give them opportunities to actually sow or give as the Holy Spirit leads the minister. No genuine leading of the Holy Spirit will be against the Bible.
Are you sowing sparingly or bountifully?
Christians who prefer not to give or sow according to the Word of God should not misconstrue this message as supporting their unbiblical disposition. Whereas every giving must be voluntary and done cheerfully, verse 6 of 2 Corinthians 9:7 I referred to earlier states another powerful principle of giving or sowing: Sow sparingly, reap sparingly; sow bountifully, reap bountifully. In other words, scanty sowing, scanty harvest; bountiful sowing, bountiful harvest. “Remember this – a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop” (2 Corinthians 9:6 NLT).
Peter attributed a statement to Jesus on giving that underscores the need to be generous. “And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35 NLT). Christians must know that their giving is not in vain. The more they give, the more their reward. Nevertheless, the giving must be consistent with biblical principles.
Biblical giving, as I have pointed out from the scriptures in this message, is usually voluntary. It is usually cheerful giving. It is usually according to one’s ability, not according to another person’s ability or purse. Nowhere in the Bible are people asked to borrow to give or to give what they don’t have.
If believers are going to give beyond their abilities, it should be their personal decisions, as they feel led, not because the man of God pressured them. Even then, the minister should guide them properly because of the pressure that could come upon them after such giving, which may give the church or minister a bad name by outsiders, who may not be privy to the circumstances surrounding such giving.
I believe that, based on the Word of God, if the Holy Spirit will ask a believer to give beyond his ability, God would have given such a believer the grace for it such that he would not grumble. This was exactly what happened to the Macedonian church. Not even the great apostle Paul could dissuade them from giving. He was very sympathetic with their condition of extreme poverty, but that would not prevent them from going ahead to give beyond their ability. But the key here was the grace of God.
Here is what Paul said about the Macedonian churches: “For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the gracious privilege of sharing in the gift for the Christians in Jerusalem. Best of all, they went beyond our highest hopes, for their first action was to dedicate themselves to the Lord and to us for whatever directions God might give them” (2 Corinthians 8:3-5 NLT).
Did you take note that they begged Paul again and again to receive their gift? So obviously they knew what they were doing. They gave deliberately not because they had been influenced by a persuasive fundraiser! There was no grumbling or complaining about their negative condition. Paul said they did it of their free will. They had the grace to give beyond their ability.
In fact, King James Version mentions the issue of grace in verse 1 of that chapter: “Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia. How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power they were willing of themselves praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of ministering to the saints” (verses 1-4 KJV). Did you see the dimension of grace in this their exceptional giving?
Don’t abuse people’s love for God
In view of all I have said, ministers of God should not exploit the love the people have for God, which makes them to be favourably disposed to do almost anything that the pastors demand of them in the name of God (whom the people of God believe the pastors represent). This mindset by many believers has made them vulnerable to unscriptural instructions given at times from the pulpit.
Ministers of God should beware of desperation to complete their projects in violation of the Word of God, as regards raising funds. God always knows how to finance His projects. Let your projects be God’s projects. Or rather, let God’s projects be your projects. God knows how to take care of you as His servant. Don’t try to help Him!
Believers should also obey the Word of God in giving, by giving according to their ability and by giving voluntarily, cheerfully, bountifully, generously and sacrificially. Don’t be a grumbling giver, be a cheerful giver.
Let me show you two cases of voluntary giving towards building the projects, of God, which should be the examples for us to follow in the church, for God’s people to be blessed and not to have a feeling of being coerced in a subtle way crafted in spiritual vocabulary.
Voluntary giving towards the construction of the Tabernacle
The first is in the construction of the Tabernacle. Not only did the people give items willingly and cheerfully, they offered their skills towards the building of the Tabernacle “Then Moses said to the whole community of Israel, ‘This is what the Lord has commanded: Take a sacred offering for the Lord. Let those with generous hearts present the following gifts to the Lord: gold, silver, and bronze; blue, purple, and scarlet thread; fine linen and goat hair for cloth; tanned ram skins and fine goatskin leather; acacia wood; olive oil for the lamps; spices for the anointing oil and the fragrant incense; onyx stones, and other gemstones to be set in the ephod and the priest’s chestpiece’” (Exodus 35:4-9 NLT).
Let’s see the response of the people to the invitation by Moses to the people to give. “So the whole community of Israel left Moses and returned to their tents. All whose hearts were stirred and whose spirits were moved came and brought their sacred offerings to the Lord. They brought all the materials needed for the Tabernacle, for the performance of its rituals, and for the sacred garments. Both men and women came, all whose hearts were willing. They brought to the Lord their offerings of gold—brooches, earrings, rings from their fingers, and necklaces. They presented gold objects of every kind as a special offering to the Lord. All those who owned the following items willingly brought them: blue, purple, and scarlet thread; fine linen and goat hair for cloth; and tanned ram skins and fine goatskin leather. And all who had silver and bronze objects gave them as a sacred offering to the Lord. And those who had acacia wood brought it for use in the project” (verses 20-24 NLT).
I want to point out something significant, which the church of the 21st Century should learn from, about the voluntary and generous giving by the people and the attitude of Moses. “So Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and all the others who were specially gifted by the Lord and were eager to get to work. Moses gave them the materials donated by the people of Israel as sacred offerings for the completion of the sanctuary. But the people continued to bring additional gifts each morning. Finally the craftsmen who were working on the sanctuary left their work. They went to Moses and reported, ‘The people have given more than enough materials to complete the job the Lord has commanded us to do!’ So Moses gave the command, and this message was sent throughout the camp: ‘Men and women, don’t prepare any more gifts for the sanctuary. We have enough!’ So the people stopped bringing their sacred offerings. Their contributions were more than enough to complete the whole project” (Exodus 36:2-7 NLT).
What am I trying to point out here? The people gave voluntarily and generously and continued to give additional gifts to the point that they gave more than what was necessary. Moreover, when Moses heard, he had to stop the people from bringing any more gifts for the building of the Tabernacle. When last did any of our churches experience such a giving – giving beyond what is needed? In addition, if the church members give, can we have a situation where the pastor will say: “Please, we have received enough money that we want to raise for this project. We don’t need any more seed to be sown for this project. Anyone who wants to sow can wait for another project.” That hardly happens.
Maybe someone is saying the ministers won’t do that because the people don’t always give enough let alone give in excess of what the church requires. Maybe they don’t give in excess because they ration or divide their giving to go round the many projects they are asked to give towards too often. Therefore, they see giving in church as a burden rather than a delight, something to done voluntarily and joyfully. They are hardly enthusiastic about it.
Voluntary giving towards the Temple project
Let me show you another case of voluntary and joyful giving towards God’s building project. David initiated this project but his son, Solomon, executed it.
In addition to all the building materials he prepared as king towards the building of the Temple (1 Chronicles 22:14-16), David, in his personal capacity, also donated generously all his private treasures of gold and silver and challenged the people to give voluntarily. The people were glad to give voluntarily, not coerced. The Bible passage capturing this is long, but it is important to present it here. “Then King David turned to the entire assembly and said, ‘My son Solomon, whom God has clearly chosen as the next king of Israel, is still young and inexperienced. The work ahead of him is enormous, for the Temple he will build is not for mere mortals—it is for the Lord God himself! Using every resource at my command, I have gathered as much as I could for building the Temple of my God. Now there is enough gold, silver, bronze, iron, and wood, as well as great quantities of onyx, other precious stones, costly jewels, and all kinds of fine stone and marble. And now, because of my devotion to the Temple of my God, I am giving all of my own private treasures of gold and silver to help in the construction. This is in addition to the building materials I have already collected for his holy Temple. I am donating more than 112 tons of gold from Ophir and 262 tons of refined silver to be used for overlaying the walls of the buildings and for the other gold and silver work to be done by the craftsmen. Now then, who will follow my example and give offerings to the Lord today?’ Then the family leaders, the leaders of the tribes of Israel, the generals and captains of the army, and the king’s administrative officers all gave willingly. For the construction of the Temple of God, they gave about 188 tons of gold, 10,000 gold coins, 375 tons of silver, 675 tons of bronze, and 3,750 tons of iron. They also contributed numerous precious stones, which were deposited in the treasury of the house of the Lord under the care of Jehiel, a descendant of Gershon. The people rejoiced over the offerings, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord, and King David was filled with joy” (1 Chronicles 29:1-9 NLT).
Did you notice the last part of that long passage? The people rejoiced over their offerings for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the LORD. Even David was filled with joy. This should be the experience in our churches. It is not the pastor alone that should be happy that the money needed for the building or any other project for that matter had been raised. The ministers and the congregation should be rejoicing because there was no coercion. Neither had the ministers made giving to God’s work a heavy burden on them.
Some have even left one church for another due to excessive demand on them to sow, which have become burdensome. They, most probably, were being asked to give more than what God expects of them. Nevertheless, such members can be easily given a bad name. The truth, however, is that giving to God, which no doubt releases God’s blessing on the giver, does not free the giver from his or her legitimate personal financial responsibilities.
We must be very careful that we don’t give the impression that ministers of God don’t care where people get the money they give in church provided the budget of the church is met. We must be careful that we don’t create the erroneous impression that only money bags are welcome in church, otherwise people with criminal sources of income will penetrate and hijack the leadership of the church.
Conclusion: Ministers of the Gospel must strike a balance between the need for church members to sow seeds in order to reap a bountiful harvest and their desire to complete their church projects. More importantly, they must strike a balance between the joy of increased church income and sensitivity to the joy in the homes of people.
They cannot afford to be too passionate about their vision, which must also become the people’s vision, that they have no compassion for them with regard to their legitimate personal financial responsibilities. Meeting the financial need of the church and the legitimate financial need of the individual members must be the concern of the ministers. There must be joy in the church as a body and joy in the home of each member. Christians must be cheerful givers, not grumbling givers!
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible believing and Bible teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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