OT reading for Mar 24 -- Exodus 35.
"Take from among you a contribution to the LORD. Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the LORD's contribution..." (Ex 35:5)
Generosity. A "generous heart" (35:5; cf 21, 22, 29) is literally, "willing [or inclined] in heart", which denotes a free-spirited, inner desire to give. Another translation is, "everyone whose heart so moves him" (TNK/JPS). The generosity that follows reveals a true volunteer spirit among the Israelites, a free giving of their resources. This is certainly a beautiful high point in Israel's history, especially following their previous failures. As the OT story progresses we see again and again that the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart.
But here was God's promise: "Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power..." (Ps 110:3a; cf Jer 32:39; Ezek 36:26). It is Christ's power that makes his people willing to freely offer themselves to him. This is why we need a new birth (John 3). And this is how we can begin to live and give with a new spirit: "Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work" (2 Cor 9:7-8). God makes all grace to freely abound to us so that we might freely abound in giving of ourselves and our resources to him and to those in need.
Though the new birth gives us a new nature, a new "want to", it does not eradicate the old nature which draws us back into selfishness and idolatry. We must pray often that the Lord would continue making us willing to give of ourselves, to serve freely, and to joyfully do his will. We need the Holy Spirit to produce and strengthen those good desires (Rom 8:13-14; Gal 5:16ff). So, the question I need to ask myself daily is, "Do I desire to have the Lord change my desires?" Are we willing to be made willing? The Lord gives his grace freely that we may give of ourselves freely. May this be true of us, that we, as Christ's people, will offer ourselves freely in the day of his power.
Image credit: photo by Chris Rimmer / Flickr / creative commons.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.