Scripture: 1 Chronicles 21:24 NASB “Free Stuff”
“But King David said to Ornan, ‘No, but I will surely buy it for the full price; for I will not take what is yours for the LORD, or offer a burnt offering which costs me nothing.'” 1 Chronicles 21:24
The Scripture said that Satan had inspired David to number his people (cf. 1 Chron. 21:1). Perhaps, Satan found a place in David’s pride and roused his desire to know how strong an army he could have raised. He was trusting in his numbers instead of just trusting in the Lord (cf. Prov. 3:5-6). He only needed one stone to slaughter Goliath but now he had over a million men. Maybe he really didn’t need the Lord for victory. That is what Satan wanted him to think.
I have a church of around ten people and think it is not having much impact for the Lord. But the Scripture says, ” . . . Who has despised the day of small things?” (Zech. 4:10a). Maybe you think your ministry is too small to honor the Lord. Perhaps, the more important question is, “Are the large churches really serving the Lord these days?” They are self-sufficient and often don’t need to trust the Lord.
So David had sinned in God’s eyes and had to make atonement by offerings. The Lord told him to buy a threshing floor from a man named Ornan in Jerusalem so he could offering sacrifices. It turned out that Ornan’s threshing floor was the same place that Abraham had attempted to sacrifice Isaac. It was the same place that Christ was later crucified.
Ornan (aka Araunah, cf. 2Sam. 24: 24) offered it to David for free. David refused to take the threshing floor for free. He said that he would have to pay what was proper for it or he would be dishonoring God. David was a very honorable man. At one point in his life he was thirsty so his “mighty men” ventured into enemy lines to fetch him some water. Though he was parched, David poured out the water rather than dishonor himself drinking water that others had risked their lives for (cf. 2 Sam. 23:16). Here, David would not take something for free and “re-gift” it to the Lord.
Many people will spend $40 or more on a meal or $100 on a concert. Yet, when they come to church, they will throw a few dollars in the basket. Grace is free they reason. They do not consider all the years the pastor spent putting a sermon together for their benefit or what it costs for lights and a mortgage. They think the pastor only works an hour each week. Others, in contrast, may contribute much to the church and then figure they own it and can run it.
There are two entire chapters devoted to giving in the New Testament. Tithing is not mentioned once in those chapters. Giving is to be by grace (cf. particularly, 2 Cor. 9: 7). Give what God wants you to give and that will be enough. It is good to “stretch but not strain” in the matter of giving.
If you do, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!
When I was in college, many of the different organizations had cookie or bake sales to raise money for their groups. To be different, I recommended that our Christian group give away cookies one day to illustrate grace. Many area churches donated homemade cookies. Though we had a ton of cookies, we were afraid that we wouldn’t have enough. Actually, in fact, the situation turned out to be more like Jesus giving away the fish and bread. There were stacks and stacks of cookies left over. We were offering students free cookies between classes but to our amazement the students were refusing them.
“Arnie” was the most popular professor in the economics department at my college. He observed this phenomena. He approached me after a while and asked me if I knew why most people were not accepting the free cookies. I told him I was completely puzzled. So he gave me the answer. People think that something that is free is not worth anything. So they were passing up the “worthless” cookies.
Isn’t that like grace? Many people want to “work” for their own salvation. They cannot humble themselves enough to take God’s free gift (cf. Rom. 6:23).
In contrast, a lot of people will attend church and not give toward the ministry at all. So what happens? Since it isn’t worth anything to them, they don’t get anything out of the service.
Again, the key is to give what God wants you to give and to “stretch but don’t strain.” Give sacrificially but don’t give so much that you can’t pay your bills or take care of your family. And don’t forget, we live under grace in the New Testament and not law.
The purpose of the “Choose Life” is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) reading plan for the day. There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength. For more on today’s reading, check out my One Year Bible blog: Cutting Up