GIVEN WILLINGLY

Today's devotion from 1 Chronicles 28 and 29.

David had his heart set on building the Temple. It was his dream and his desire. Alas, it was not to be. God could not permit him to build the wondrous cathedral due to the amount of blood shed by David's hand. It is peculiar that David's victories given as gifts by God, the very means of his successfully obeying God, were the same reason he was disqualified from honoring God in the manner so wished. His success was a coin of two sides.

Yet, David did not begrudge God this. In fact, David nearly disobeyed God in his fervor and zeal. He prepared as much as he could without crossing the line. He went so far as to leave a large amount of his personal treasury to the task of building the Temple. Yet, after outlining for the people the amounts of resources assembled and that he would donate, it was not enough. The Temple could not be build with what they had, at least, not to the scale the king had in mind.

So, in 1 Chronicles 29, the king stands before the people and bears his heart. He lays out his desire and his sacrifice before asking, "Who then will offer willingly, consecrating himself today to the LORD?" (vs. 5) There you have it. David has just asked the people to feely give toward the goal of building the temple. After three verses describing the generosity of the people, verse 9 states, "Then the people rejoiced because they had given willingly, for with a whole heart they had offered freely to the LORD. David the king also rejoiced greatly."

I think it is more than foreshadowing that the chronicler continually redirects our attention to the heart. We've seen David's heart. We've seen the people's hearts. We've prayed for Solomon's heart. The chronicler is driving home a reality that we have each experienced. We can do the right things. We can follow the rules. We can give that which is required. But, there is something precious about acting, following, and giving with our hearts.

In the case of David, the passion and zeal of his heart was contagious. And when the people experienced it, they rejoiced because the reward was so powerful and cleansing. As I write this, I just wonder how your heart his? I'm not asking if you act appropriately or follow dutifully or give obligatorily. No. I'm asking about your heart and its inclination toward God. Is there a fire in your chest to honor Him? Is their a resolve in your mind to follow Him? Are the grips of your hands made loose by the joy you've discovered in being a cheerful giver?

If you cannot answer yes to these three questions, then I feel terribly for you. If we can  rejoice in giving freely, then we can also begrudge giving mandatorily. Joy and bitterness are so closely connected that they are only separated by the fine line of perspective? Do you get to give? Or do you have to give?