There are a lot of reasons to have a party. Birthday parties are a great chance to celebrate everyone on an equal frequency (even those born on a Leap Day – we can find an adjacent date to celebrate them). Graduation parties recognize the work that it takes to get through school. Housewarming parties celebrate new homes and new opportunities. Holiday parties are opportunities to share with others, just because of a particular day or season of the year.
On the other hand, have you ever thrown a party to celebrate that you gave something away? I suppose that there are a few people who are excited to have finished spring-cleaning, and got rid of a bunch of stuff they didn’t want at a garage sale (and maybe even made a little money at it). But, when was the last time you got really excited to take something that you valued and give it to someone else?
As David was preparing materials for his son Solomon to build a temple to God, the Israelites were pretty enthusiastic about it. The following verse suggests to me that the building of the temple itself wasn’t the primary focus of their joy, though:
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 29:9 NLT
In my mind, this is one of the most common events where we see people excited about giving things away. When ground is broken for a new church building, in order to serve both the congregants and the community, that is usually justification for a party (hopefully with a good potluck!). In the same way, when a group works together to build a house for a family in need, giving that family the keys to their brand-new house makes the contributors happy, as they share in the joy of the recipient.
Can you imagine a group of followers of Jesus getting excited about a weekly offering? In fact, I’ve heard of a local congregation that celebrates their opportunity to give to God’s work, and maybe you enjoy that same celebration on a regular basis in the company of those with whom you worship. This is truly a privilege, although giving to a specific congregation (for their leadership to distribute goods and funds as God calls them to) is only one way to contribute to the Lord’s work. Any time that we give away something in Jesus’ name – even a cup of water – we can rejoice in the opportunity to be part of God’s outreach to the world.
This only makes sense if we truly believe that God has great things in store, though, including the abundant life that Jesus offers. This attitude is dependent on whether or not we actually trust that He can take what we give and do big, good things with it. It’s also a function of whether or not we accept that He is in charge of all of us, including our possessions. If so, shouldn’t we celebrate when we get to be a part of God’s mission?
A few verses later, David the king, in front of the Israelites, explains why the Israelites could get excited about sharing what they have for God’s temple:
But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us!
1 Chronicles 29:14 NLT
The ultimate reason that it should be easy for followers of Jesus to give to His kingdom is because God is the source of all that we have, anyway. Although the offering time at a church may be described as a chance to “give back to God”, or we might talk about “giving” a donation to a good cause, we’re not really giving anything to God. After all, He already owns everything, and has the right to say how it should be allocated. Instead, we’re just moving it around to wherever He calls us to place it.
So, the next time you get the chance to use money or things (i.e., what God has put under your responsibility to invest for Him) for a good purpose, get a little excited. Maybe cheer a little when you give, giving praise to Him (not to yourself). Being part of the great mission to make disciples of Jesus is something to celebrate!