The Perfect Gift

“All things come from You [God], and of Your own we have given You”

1 Chronicles 29:14

When we give a gift to another person we may experience a number of emotions including love, joy, happiness and self esteem. King David recognised that, in reality, everything he had, had its origin in God. With regard to the kingdom he knew that he was king because God chose Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and then Judah to himself to be of the royal line (28:4). He knew this would pass to Solomon (28:5) and eventually to The Son who would reign forever (28:7). Solomon would build an earthly temple but The Son would build a heavenly temple not made with human hands that would endure forever.

There are similarities in the development of both the earthly and heavenly temples. In Exodus thirty five, and again here, we read that the people first gave themselves to the Lord’s service (29:5) before any consideration of material things. The same is true of Jesus’ disciples (2 Corinthians 8:5). In these accounts the people were not motivated by what others thought of them, by duty or seeking God’s favour. They were motivated by God’s love, mercy and grace which they had already received. They gave themselves willingly and joyfully, not grudgingly.

The Lord is interested in our motivation for giving to Him and less interested in what we actually give. He is able to discern our motive (28:9). This was the difference between Cain and Able. The right heart motive cannot be artificially created or induced. It develops from a right understanding of who Jesus is, what He has done for us and a close intimate walk with Him. The right motivation comes from a genuine love for Jesus and thankfulness for all that He has given. Everything has its origin in Him.

None of us chose the time or place of our birth. Neither do we choose our parents and ethnicity. None of us chose our natural talents or the opportunities that present. None of us chose our sex, height, natural pigmentation of skin, hair and eyes.

All we are and have has its origin in God. We show our love and appreciation for His love and gifts by gifting all that we are and have into His hands. He has given you Himself, would you give Him less? Holding anything back is idolatry. We are His by right of creation and redemption. Let us rest in His love and sovereignty.

Currying Favour

“And I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” Matthew 7:23

The context of this verse is the latter part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and it is a solemn warning for us to be very careful and very sure that we are doing the will of the Father (v 21). The people Jesus is excluding from His Kingdom will be astonished to discover that when they “prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders (miracles) in Your name” that they were totally in error. Very likely we have all at some time or other done things for which we have thought Jesus would be grateful but such will not be the case. The reason for the exclusion from the kingdom is not what they did but where their heart lay. They were doing it to gain favour with the King but they were not subject to His will.

In 2 Samuel 1 there is the record of an Amalekite who claimed to have killed King Saul. His claim was false (cf. 1 Samuel 31 & 1 Chronicles 10). The reason he lied was that he thought he could gain David’s favour by making the false claim. David didn’t know he was lying at the time and had him executed for killing the Lord’s anointed.

In chapter four of the same book there is the account of the death of Saul’s son, Ishbosheth. Ishbosheth had been at war with David for two years about who would rule Israel. Seeing that they could not win, two of Ishbosheth’s own men came into his room and killed him while he was in bed. They removed his head and took it to David expecting favour for the betrayal of their leader. Like the Amalekite, they were gravely mistaken and were executed.

In both incidents the men thought they were going to please King David. In the ways of men this would usually be an act that would gain favour with a king but they totally lacked God’s perspective. They were not in a personal and intimate relationship with the Lord as David was.

Jesus declares in His Sermon on the Mount that many people throughout the ages, including the church age, will perform many actions that they sincerely believe will gain favour with Him but will in reality be a cause for His wrath.

Jesus said that “He never knew them.” This does not mean that He is ignorant of who they are or what they have done. It means that they were acting out of their own heart and not in obedience to His will. Given the opportunity they might argue that they were acting in accordance with God’s word. After all, what is wrong with preaching the Bible, casting out demons and performing miracles? The problem is not found in what they were doing but why they were doing it. They were not subject to the will of or in obedience to Jesus Christ. They were acting by their own volition in their own authority with a view to gaining favour with Jesus Christ their way.

If we start thinking along the lines of what we can do for Jesus without consulting Him and waiting for an answer we may fall into the same trap. Jesus Christ is Head of His church and it is He alone who chooses how we fit into His church and ministry.