[Preparing for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, I wrote an article for our church’s monthly newsletter on a gospel-motivated vision for giving to the work of Jesus Christ in spreading his fame throughout the earth. Needless to say, giving to the kingdom of God is an investment worth more than the weight of gold, but one that is only empowered by the work of God in our hearts].
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 (1 Chron 29:14).
Before Carnegie, Rockefeller, Gates, and Buffet stood a philanthropist whose greatest desire was to build a temple for God (2 Samuel 7). Speaking of his desire, King David says in Psalm 27, “One thing have I asked of the Lord that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.” Truly, David was a man after God’s own heart, and it is evident in the way he dedicated himself to the Lord’s work.
Though God denied David’s desire to be the temple’s foreman, he ordained David to be the developer who raised the financial capital needed to build God’s house. 1 Chronicles recounts how David collected supplies for the house. 1 Chronicles 22 even lists the amounts: 4,000 tons of gold equaling 53 billion dollars today; 36,000 tons of silver, equaling 8.9 billion dollars today, plus bronze and iron ‘beyond weighing’ (22:14). Needless to say, compared to King David, Carnegie, Rockefeller, Gates, and Buffet together would find themselves on the light side of the scale. In addition to the amount King David collected, he also contributed his own personal wealth–Over 110 tons of gold and more than 260 tons of silver (1 Chron 29:3-4).
Yet, notice what David thought about his giving. His motivation was not that of a debtor paying off his pledge, nor that of a duty-bound king. It was not even the tax-incentivized contribution of the modern American. Rather, David gave as a beloved son (2 Sam 7:14). Overwhelmed by the grace of God, he marveled at the fact that God would allow him to bring such an offering. His rich contribution humbled him because he recognized the real Giver of the gift (cf. 1 Cor 4:7). In short, David gave a only a fraction of all that God had given him, yet he gave willingly because he reckoned all that he owned as God’s. Hear his words in Psalm 24:1-2, “The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.”
The apostle Paul had the same sentiment. Speaking of the Macedonian’s generosity, he wrote, “You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God” (2 Cor 9:11). Paul’s point is that for Christians, we ought to be motivated by God’s superabundant supply and to give accordingly—always for the praise of God’s great name (see 2 Cor 9:6-15).
The point is not that large gifts merit God’s favor (see Luke 21:1-4), but rather that meditation on God’s favor, moves us to give largely. God’s goal in giving is our eternal joy and freedom from the empty promises that money makes: You can gain the whole world and forfeit your soul: Material possession doesn’t equate to happiness or eternal security. Thus, God always works in the hearts of his people to make freewill offerings, motivated by the largeness of his love (see Exodus 35:29). David is such an example.
So was Lottie Moon. Compelled by the love of God, Lottie gave the ultimate gift—her own life—to the Chinese people whom see loved. From an aristocratic family in Virginia, she died of starvation in Asia. She invested her life and beckoned others to give their to the only cause that lasts forever–the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Why? Because like David, she knew the faithfulness and love of God in Jesus Christ. Thus her service was delightful, not dutiful. She gladly sacrificed so that others might know the glorious God of grace. This December as we take up an offering for Lottie Moon missions, might we like David and Lottie, be motivated by the joy-producing gospel to give to the work of the Great Commission.
May God increase our joy and liberate our hearts as we give unto him, “a cheerful gift!”