Have you ever known another Christian who thinks you should do things for or give things to them just because you’re both Christians? Somewhere along the line, a lot of believers got it in their heads that everything should be cheap and easy. Free is even better. We’ve got this idea in our heads that it’s a blessing. Generally, it’s not. It’s cheap. It’s greedy. It’s unbecoming of a group of people who should be known for their generosity, not their ability to rip people off in the name of faith.
David, having grieved the Lord, was instructed to build an altar and offer a sacrifice at a certain place. That certain place was a threshing floor belonging to a man named Araunan. Araunan offered everything to David for free.
But the king replied to Araunan, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”
2 Samuel 24:24 (NIV)
David paid for the threshing floor, the wood for the fire, and the oxen to sacrifice. As the king, it probably didn’t break the bank. But he still refused to offer something to God that he didn’t have to pay for.
Centuries later, another sacrifice was required. Like David’s sin needed a sacrifice, our sin, too, needed a sacrifice. Only the payment for our sin was much greater than the purchase of a floor, wood, and ox. The payment required on our behalf was the life of God’s Son.
As Jesus prepared for what he knew he had to do, he let out one last agonising prayer.
Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
Luk 22:42 (NIV)
I cannot imagine the torment Jesus went through during that time in the garden. He knew the physical pain would be unbearable. He knew the weight of the sins of the world would be crushing. And he knew that he would forever be separated from his Father.
These are just two examples, in a book of many, that we are to emulate. Jesus taught on and lived a life of generosity. That practice continued in the early church as Paul writes to commend the church at Philippi.
Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only.
Philippians 4:15 (NIV)
Only one church of many understood the concept of generous giving. The point was not that Paul needed so much (even though he did), but that the church received far more because of their gifts.
Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.
Philippians 4:17-18 (NIV)
David could have very easily accepted the gift Araunan offered to him, but he knew that he needed to pay a price or the sacrifice would not have been his, but Araunan’s. Jesus, too, could have prayed that the cup be passed and stopped there. God may have even allowed it. But Jesus knew a price had to be paid. Paul could have sent the gifts back to Philippi since he had more than enough, but he knew that the church needed to give so that they could receive more.
You see, generosity is not something we should expect from others, but it is something we should expect of ourselves. How much value do you place in something that came cheap and easy? Compare that to something that you paid dearly for.
Someone may or may not have need of what you have to give, but you have far greater need for the space your sacrifice creates in your own life. If you want a blessing, you have to make room for it. If a gift costs you nothing to give, is it really worth giving? What does that say about you? What does that say to the person receiving the gift?
No matter who you give to or what you give, whether it be to the Lord, a brother or sister in Christ, or the homeless person on the street, give generously. Give faithfully. Give as though it’s the first gift you get to give and the last you’ll ever be able to give.
Read: 2 Samuel 23-24, Luke 22:31-53