On Sunday, October 13, 2019, Pastor Jennifer Smith-Walz preached a sermon titled “I Like Giving: The Way God Does.” Her message focused on the free-handed contributions of the Israelites to the building of God’s tabernacle, as found in the Scripture Exodus 35:4–36:7. She reminded us of how God is stirring our hearts to give generously and creatively for the work he is calling us to do.
God gave Moses instructions to build a tabernacle, a place for worship. Moses called the people together and invited them to contribute to this worthy cause, suggesting all sorts of materials – precious metals, fibers, cloth, wood, leather. And then, he asked for an offering of skills – labor, design, spinning, weaving, artistry, craftsmanship, intelligence, knowledge, teaching, training, apprenticeship, and leadership. And everyone whose heart was stirred, and whose spirit was willing, brought their offerings to the Lord. They were generous, creative and extravagant. The donations came pouring in and far exceeded the need that Moses had to tell them to stop contributing. Whoever does that?
The Scripture is descriptive, even with eyes closed. It gives a detailed description of the tabernacle building plans, making use of the senses of colors, taste, smell, and sound. While these details are glorious, what God is doing in this community of Israelites is even more remarkable.
Remember, the Israelites had had a difficult life – slaves in Egypt, plagues on Egypt, Moses, and the burning bush, ‘Let my people go’, their escape from Egypt, 40 years wandering in the desert, the arrival at Mount Sinai, the Ten Commandments, the Covenants – yet they responded generously to God’s commandment to give. They recognized they are God’s beloved children, created in His image. Their generosity was contagious. It was the first time this community formed a shared vision and purpose, and it brought them great joy.
Numerous studies have shown that giving makes us happier, like spending on others and giving donations to organizations trying to leave the world a better place. Achieving goals related to helping others not only increases happiness, satisfaction, and well-being but also erases the feeling of anxiety, depression, pain, etc. “Giving is the most potent force on the planet and will protect you, your whole life,” says Dr. Stephen Post. Give daily, in small ways and you’ll be happier, healthier, live longer. God created us in his image, and as such, we need to give, but somehow, we tend to forget. We notice the Israelites’ excitement about giving stuff, time, skills – joyfully singing, laughing, as they contributed. Remembering earlier in their journey, when they were complaining, God was generous in his provision to them. Now they are generous to God and others.
What is your “I like giving” story? When have you discovered, like the Israelites in Exodus, that God stirred your heart, and your spirit was willing? When did you realize that your gift made a difference – in you and the recipient? What have been your missed opportunities for generosity? Remembering that God created us to share joyfully the gifts he has given us, we encourage you to rediscover the joy of giving generously. Today, we invite you to ask God to stir your heart and make your spirit willing to give.
The sermon is a podcast on this webpage under the category worship. Here is the link
For the complete video of the October 13 service, found on Princeton United Methodist Church Facebook page, click here.