1 Chronicles 21:18-22:1 – Does God Get Your Financial Leftovers?

Posted: May 15, 2020 in 13-1 Chronicles

1 Chronicles 21:18-22:1

David Builds an Altar

As may have surmised by now, one of my passions in my Christian walk is teaching and encouraging people to move away from the American Dream view of finances and toward a biblical view of finances. It is not because I read it, believe it, but have not practiced it. My passion for changing our mindset to a biblical view of our financial life is the result of trusting God’s Word and then putting it into practice. There are two things that I have learned in the years since I started living my financial life in God’s way. First, putting God first in our finances is probably where we truly express our trust in Him. Second, trusting God with our finances leads us to start viewing the world in a completely different way than before.

First, pretty much no matter who you are and how long you may have been a Christ follower, one of the last things (if not THE last thing) that you are willing to turn over to God’s control is your finances. As Christ followers, we are not immune to the cultures in which we live. We live in them daily. We are immersed in them. Thus, leakage of non-biblical cultural norms into our lives is almost inevitable. The American culture’s view of money and possessions is one that often leaks into our lives as Christ followers. The latest statistics reveal some shocking numbers: approximately 80% of all American are in debt. This figure holds true across the board from Baby Boomers to Millennials. Because of this trend, current data predicts that as many as 73 percent of Americans will ultimately die in debt. Because about 50% of Americans identify themselves as evangelical/Protestant Christians, this means Christians are part of the equation. The American culture is such that we are encouraged to buy things on credit. We are encouraged to buy the newest and the latest. We are encouraged to want luxuries no matter our income level. Thus, it is not uncommon but common that most Americans live off of 104% of what they make. It is an untenable situation that ultimately requires our insurance companies to pay off our debts when we die.

Thus, I was no different. For much of my life, I lived life like most Americans – wanting the newest and the best and often spending money foolishly and beyond my means. By the time I was in my early 40’s after two failed marriages, my credit has horrid. But Elena and I decided after we got married to begin trusting the Lord with our finances. Instead of adding tithing as a perfunctory expense that we could not afford. We began arranging our life where we started living on 90% or less of what I made. Further, instead of blowing tax refunds and company performance bonuses on frivolousness, we used them to pay down and eliminate debts. As we paid off debts, more money became available to live generously. As well, taking care of written off accounts enabled us to clean up my credit to the point that it is stellar now. In getting all these monetary monkeys off of my bank by putting God first in our finances, tithing, living off of 90% or less of what I made, tithing on refunds and bonuses, using refunds and bonuses to get rid of debt and clean up credit, there was an amazing peace that came over us. That’s the real blessing!

Second, turning to biblical views on finance changes your outlook completely on what you really need in life. That has been the biggest blessing for Elena and me since we started putting God first in our finances. In the past decade, we have arranged our lives where Elena can be a stay-at-home wife and she can volunteer in areas of life where her passions lie. When a wife has the choice to work rather than a demand to work with all the responsibilities that wives just by nature have at home, it takes so much pressure off of them when they don’t HAVE to work. Because we have arranged our lives where we are not beholden to debtors, there is such a freedom in that. Life is less of grind that way. Arranging our financial lives to live more simply allowed us over time to be ready for His call into ministry where our income has been reduced by more than 50% of what it was when I left the corporate world. Also, we really value the breathing room that we have in our finances. We have been able to save and invest over the last decade because of it so as to help secure our retirement whenever that may come. We also really value not getting ourselves into any further debt. We have learned to be content with what we have. Chasing after the newest, brightest, shiniest just doesn’t turn our crank anymore. We keep what we have until it wears out and we are happy with that. We are able to generous to our church and to causes we care about. Those things happen first and we want to give generously not do it out of a sense of enforced duty. Because of our work to live more simply, we don’t have to wonder if we can tithe. It is the first payment we make when I get my monthly compensation check. That’s the blessing that comes from being obedient to God in our finances. We are no longer slaves to the things that we have to pay for. We can be generous because we want to be. And we don’t have this pall of debt hanging over our heads that sucks the joy out of our lives. And we have, most of all, learned to be content with what we have right now at this moment. God has blessed us with everything that we need in every moment. When we are obedient to God in our finances, He has always provided for us as needs have arisen. He has always taken care of us. That further reinforces our willingness to be obedient to Him in our finances. That’s the blessing. The trust in the Lord’s provision and the contentment we have learned to be appreciative of what has been provided to us by the Lord.

I don’t say these things to brag because it has been all the Lord’s doing. The only thing that we have done is to be obedient to the Lord in the area of finances over the past decade. I only bring it up here to say that it can be done. And to encourage you to step off the hamster wheel of the American Dream falsehood and do things God’s way. It times time and sacrifice I am here to tell you. But there will come a day when you find the freedom that comes from being obedient to the Lord in your finances.

That idea that David puts forth in this passage is one that is important. So many of us, just give God what we have left over and it doesn’t hurt us. It doesn’t hurt us to give him that extra $5.00 we have in our pocket. We are disobedient to the Lord in most cases because we have mortgaged our incomes away to the American Dream fallacy of chasing the newest, brightest, and shiniest. Then, God gets what doesn’t hurt. God gets our leftovers. God gets what doesn’t cost us a thing. That’s the idea that David smashes in this passage. Let us read 1 Chronicles 21:18-22:1 now:

18 Then the angel of the Lord ordered Gad to tell David to go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. 19 So David went up in obedience to the word that Gad had spoken in the name of the Lord.

20 While Araunah was threshing wheat, he turned and saw the angel; his four sons who were with him hid themselves. 21 Then David approached, and when Araunah looked and saw him, he left the threshing floor and bowed down before David with his face to the ground.

22 David said to him, “Let me have the site of your threshing floor so I can build an altar to the Lord, that the plague on the people may be stopped. Sell it to me at the full price.”

23 Araunah said to David, “Take it! Let my lord the king do whatever pleases him. Look, I will give the oxen for the burnt offerings, the threshing sledges for the wood, and the wheat for the grain offering. I will give all this.”

24 But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.”

25 So David paid Araunah six hundred shekels[a] of gold for the site. 26 David built an altar to the Lord there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. He called on the Lord, and the Lord answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering.

27 Then the Lord spoke to the angel, and he put his sword back into its sheath. 28 At that time, when David saw that the Lord had answered him on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, he offered sacrifices there. 29 The tabernacle of the Lord, which Moses had made in the wilderness, and the altar of burnt offering were at that time on the high place at Gibeon. 30 But David could not go before it to inquire of God, because he was afraid of the sword of the angel of the Lord.

Chapter 22

1 Then David said, “The house of the Lord God is to be here, and also the altar of burnt offering for Israel.”

In this passage, we see that, when David wanted to buy Araunah’s land to build an altar, Araunah generously offered it as a gift to King David. However, David refused, saying, “I will not take what is yours and give it to the Lord. I will not present burnt offerings that have cost me nothing.” David wanted to present an offering that was a sacrifice to the Lord. An offering should cost the giver in terms of time, talents, and/or resources. To give sacrificially requires more than a token effort or gift. God wants us to give voluntarily but He wants it to mean something to us. Giving to God that does not represent a willing sacrifice (i.e., a sacrifice that costs you little or nothing) does not show our devotion to the Lord.

That’s the takeaway for me this morning. Let us learn to put God first in our finances so that we can be sacrificial givers. So that we can be those who CAN give sacrificially to the Lord. So that we can cheerfully and generously give to our Lord through our local church, first, and those who are in need through charities and direct gifts to those in need, second. Let us get our finances under control so that we live on 90% or less than what we make. Let us arrange our lives so our wives can have the choice to work or not (as they are the ones that typically carry an inordinate percentage of the burden of running our families already). Let us arrange our lives where we have the freedom to be generous. Let us arrange our lives so generosity doesn’t have to be our leftover $5.00 in our wallet. Let us be free from the shackles of materialism. Let us be free to be obedient to a God who always provides to us when we are obedient to Him in His commands about finances.

Amen and Amen.

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