READ: 1 Chronicles 28-29
THINK: Duck Dynasty is easily my favorite show on television today. And it’s not because of the hunting and the life of the outdoorsman that the show features. I am an avid indoorsman who has never shot an animal in my life, and probably never will largely because the idea of touching a dead thing really grosses me out. I’m kind of a wimp. But that’s not the point. I love the show, among other things, because of it’s honest portrayal of life in America and the inside look at what “The American Dream” looks like played out in a family. The Robertsons have a true rags-to-riches story. And their strong Christian faith allows them to process their fame and fortune a little differently than most.
One theme that Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the clan, repeatedly hits on is the idea that money doesn’t buy satisfaction. In fact, it often causes dissatisfaction. Phil often sits back and reflects on where he came from and his contentment with and joy in all that he has. But at the same time he notes how easy it is to become dissatisfied with the blessings we’ve been given – and how quickly it happens – in the midst of the wildly materialistic society that is 21st century America.
This thought challenges me to take a look at my own life and my own level of satisfaction. Am I satisfied with the things that I have – which are FAR more than I need and OUTRAGEOUSLY more than 90+ percent of the people on this planet will ever see? Or do I “need” bigger and better things? And the real question, the kicker is: how do I justify getting those things I want – which deep down I know I don’t need – when I really want them?
The answer to that last question is pretty simple. Here it is: It is easy to justify spending copious amounts of money on ourselves and our own pleasures when we believe that it is our money. When we hold onto the concept that we earned it and we own it then it’s a simple step to get to the concept that we are well within our rights to do whatever we please with it.
1 Chronicles 29 challenges us to get a new and better concept. The people of Israel, with a clear understanding of what God has done and how he has sovereignly blessed them give freely to him. And David sums up their spirit in verse 14 when he prays, “All things come from You, and of Your own we have freely given You.” Pretend that you were a member of the crowd that day and you had just sacrificially given a ton of your wealth for the building of the temple. And then the king stands up and instead of even bothering to acknowledge your gift or even give a really simple “Thank you guys” shout out to the crowd he stands up and thanks God for giving what was already God’s to God’s project. Where is the love? Seriously, let that sink in for a moment.
I think, sadly, most Americans would be disappointed to hear this. Most would be mad at David or at least slightly annoyed. Why? Because we’ve bought a cultural lie about who owns our stuff! Because we forget really easily and really quickly that it belongs to God! But the truth couldn’t be simpler: it is his. All of it. Every last bit.
So what does this mean for us? Well, it doesn’t mean – by any stretch of the imagination – that you should never buy anything for yourself and you should live in a box instead of your house and you should live in poverty. That misses the big idea: That God is an incredibly gracious and loving and giving Father who gives us amazing gifts and blesses us with all that we have! God gave it to you to steward and use. But it’s from him. Not from your hard work. Which means that you have to be willing to get rid of your materialistic mindset and use it how HE wants and not how YOU want. Always. It means you should pray about your decisions to buy stuff. It means you should give freely – and sometimes so sacrificially that it hurts – whenever God tugs at your heart to do so because it is all his to use as he pleases. And you can trust, as Israel did in 1 Chronicles 29, that God will do great things with what you give him!
PRAY: For some of us, this thought ought to revolutionize our prayer lives. Take a minute and seriously think over this question: how much time do you spend asking God to give you things or do things for you and how much time do you spend asking God what he wants you to give and what you can do for him? (The truth of that one is gonna sting for most of us).
Amidst the incredibly busy schedule that President Abraham Lincoln had to keep, he made time one day for an elderly lady with no official business or title who had asked if she could meet with him. As she entered Lincoln’s office, he rose to greet her and asked how he might be of service. She replied that she had not come to ask a favor. She had heard that the President liked a certain kind of cookie, so she had baked some for him and brought them to his office.
With tears in his eyes, Lincoln responded, “You are the very first person who has ever come into my office asking not, expecting not, but rather bringing me a gift. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
When coming into God’s presence today let’s refrain from giving Him a list of requests. Instead, let’s simply bring Him the gift of our gratitude and love. Let’s all worship and thank him and simply ask – with open hands and hearts – where he wants us to give and how he wants us to serve.