“O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, preserve this forever in the intentions of the heart of Your people, and direct their heart to You;”
1 Chronicles 29:18
Context: David led Israel in a giving spree wherein everyone gave freely and willingly for the construction of the temple in Jerusalem. The “this” that David refers to in the verse is the giving and the resultant bounty that was ready to get the temple building project up and going.
Much of this verse is concepts with which I am readily familiar and that didn’t really catch my eye this morning. But the idea that God would preserve the giving of His people forever in the intentions of [their] heart struck me. Linguistically, this could be understood two ways that I can see.
One, David could be asking that God confirm forever in the heart of His people a giving spirit; an intention to give to God’s work. This is entirely possible, as people’s enthusiasm for giving to God’s work waxes and wanes for seemingly no reason. I’m sure there’s a reason, but I do not see other people’s reasons for dwindling giving, so I am left wondering why Christians will decrease our giving to God’s things yet maintain our cable service or some other such thing. I’m not putting the knock on comforts, merely pointing out that it indicates the state of our priorities.
Two, David could be asking that the gift itself be measured not against its value but against the intentions of the people’s hearts. In context, this seems to be the better way of understanding what David said. The people were moved by God and through David’s example to give freely and generously to God’s work. There was no pressure, no gimmick, just David stepping out to set aside resources for a project and letting others know what he was about. What’s more, David points out that all that they gave was God’s to begin with, so all they really did was give back to God what He had given to them.
For me, this is a timely reminder. God is not impressed so much with what I give or how much of it I give, but with the heart behind the giving. If I give grudgingly, then it devalues the gift. If I give God money when I would prefer to spend it on something else, then God sees that preference and knows that the money was pried from greedy fingers. If I give God time I would rather be spending somewhere else, then the time is worth less than it otherwise would have been because He sees that I would rather be doing something else. If, on the other hand, I give things willingly, then those gifts are more valuable to God. He knows that I need finances to pay bills and so on, but He (unlike us) is never strapped for cash and can easily give more. He wants me to trust that He will provide for not only my needs, but also those of my wife and daughter. He knows that I want to spend time in various ways and that there are parts of my time that are already dispositioned, but time is not a problem when He sits outside of it. Can He give me more? Maybe. More importantly, He can make the time I have more worthwhile; more productive; just more.
I need to check the intentions of my heart. I’ve got more than a few things coming up that require some resource that I have varying degrees of willingness to give. Let me be wholly willing to freely give to God whatever He asks.