By Tony Tench
The church where our daughter and her family serve the Lord have a phrase they use each week in the children’s classes. They point the kids to the day’s “need to know” — it’s the focal point of the daily lesson from the Bible. So, over these few years we have often heard Erin and Matt ask our granddaughter while leaving church or later that Sunday afternoon, “Mattie, what was your ‘need to know’?”
Over the past three weeks in our FBC Sunday School classes, we have been studying lessons from Scripture highlighted by Randy Alcorn’s book, The Treasure Principle. And, I am wondering what those of you in classes have taken away as your “need to know!” Please feel free to write me with those and to keep talking about them in your classes.
For me, there is a great passage of Scripture that represents a “need to know” summary of the truths and lessons we have been discussing these past weeks as we have considered how to be obedient to the Lord with our time, talent, and treasures.
The passage is 1 Chronicles 29:11-19 and it describes King David’s prayer response to the gifts that the people of Israel brought in for the building of the temple. You’ll remember that David had a vision for building a temple for the LORD but that he would not be the one to build it. Even so, before his death and turning the building project over to his son Solomon, David did the preparation by calling on the people to bring in their gifts to be used for temple construction. And, did they ever bring in the gifts! (1 Chron. 29:1-10)
“Need to Know”
I see in David’s prayer our “Need to Know” about dealing with the treasures that we possess!
- “Everything in heaven and earth is yours,” v. 11. We are stewards, managers, of what belongs to God.
- “Wealth and honor come from you,” v. 12. That means we have to trust God for what we have and to inspire our work in the meantime. This is why “tithing” is such a vital spiritual discipline as a “floor” in our giving (not a ceiling) because in our giving a tithe we are trusting God with our next steps — tithing builds trust in God.
- “Now, we give you thanks and praise,” v. 13. Because everything is God’s and because what we have comes from him, we “give” — not out of compulsion or obligation but as a response of Thanksgiving.
- David asks, “Who are we…to be able to give as generously as this?” And the answer comes, “Everything comes from you and we have given you only what comes from your hand,” v.14. God really is at work in our lives through our giving — he is the one to inspire and lead us to be generous people — even as he is our generous Father!
- “Our days on earth are but a shadow,” v. 15. Remember, David would never see the temple he had envisioned but he led the people to give anyway in order to provide for what he would never see. Kingdom giving — for God’s work in the world and for eternity — is at the heart of any “treasure principles.”
- “You test the heart and are pleased with integrity,” v. 17. As Jesus put it, “Where your treasure is so where your heart be also.” God is looking at what we value in our hearts and how we deal with what is most valuable in life. And, what is “integrity” but “wholeness” — that’s what it means — and part of following Jesus wholeheartedly is the spiritual discipline of generosity.
- “I have seen with joy how willingly your people have given to you,” v. 17. Attitude makes the difference. Sometimes our gifts are truly sacrificial but always they are to be made joyfully (Matthew 13:44).
- “Oh Lord the God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel…,” v.18. David recognized he, and thus we, was part of something huge. Devotion to God was modeled for him and now he was modeling for the next generation through generosity. For all of those who have gone before us and our thanksgiving for their generosity from which we benefit, we’re up now — we are the ones to take the next step in God’s kingdom work!
So, what is our “need to know” about our treasures. It’s really pretty simple and this passage concludes with it very obviously:
“Then David said to the whole assembly, ‘Praise the LORD your God.’ So they all praised the LORD, the God of their fathers; they bowed low and fell prostrate before the LORD and their king.”1 Chronicles 29:20
There’s the “need to know” — submission of our lives into the hands of God. That’s what discipleship is about. That’s what commitment is about. And, generosity is one of the ways we live out our submission to the God who has loved us so completely in Jesus!