What to Give?

May 5, 2022

For most of my life, I have not felt rich. In fact, there have been many seasons when I actually felt poor. As I look back on my life, I realize I've never truly been poor. I have always had clothes, food, and shelter. But I sure FELT poor. Maybe it was because I grew up with hand-me-down clothes from my older cousins, or wore imitation "Air Jordan" shoes (my classmates called them "Air Pamidas" after the discount store in our small town), or because LeAnn and I spent our years in Colorado barely getting by, relying on food banks with expired food to help feed our young family.

While I am nowhere near poverty at this stage of my life, this "poor" mentality has unfortunately hounded my thinking. I see it rear its ugly head whenever I am asked to donate. I am regularly bombarded by missionaries, church planters, universities, and nonprofit organizations asking me to give money toward their important causes. Yet, my first thought with each ask tends to be, "I don't have enough money."

As Riverwood goes through this Building Lives campaign, you might be feeling the same as me. When you look at the bills coming in, and the exit of money from your bank, you might be thinking, "I don't have very much to give."

Give What You Have

The ancient Israelites in the book of Exodus escaped from slavery in Egypt, only to find themselves wandering around homeless in the wilderness. They were far from "rich" in the way you and I think of wealth.

Yet, as we saw last week, God instructed Moses to invite the people to willingly give toward a tabernacle. But God didn't just give them the opportunity to give; He also gave them ideas of what to give.

"And this is the contribution that you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, goats’ hair, tanned rams’ skins, goatskins, acacia wood, oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece." (Exodus 25:3-7, ESV)

Perhaps you saw the beginning of this passage and want to push back with my point a couple paragraphs ago: "Erin, if they were 'poor,' how do they have "gold, silver, and bronze" to give?"

What To Give? • Riverwood Church

Glad you asked! The Israelites, as slaves, would have had next to nothing except their clothes, some food, and a place to live. But when they were finally allowed to leave the country after ten plagues had devastated the land and people of Egypt, Exodus 12:35-36 tells us the people "plundered" the Egyptians by asking for gold, silver, and clothing on their way out.

Suddenly, these poor slaves were wealthy! But because they had had a "poor slave" mentality for so long, it would have been natural for many of them to hear the invitation to give to the tabernacle project and think, "But I don't have anything to give."

That is why I don't think God just says, "Give me the gold, jewelry, and clothing you took from the Egyptians." Remember, God wanted the people to give willingly. So He expanded their minds of what they could give. Those raising the herds could give goatskins or goat hair. Those who had extra cloth could give yard and linen. Some might be able to give oil, or spices, or even simply stones. In other words, the people were given freedom to give whatever they already had.

So what do you currently have? If God has blessed you with wealth, could you donate some "gold, silver, or bronze" to our Building Lives campaign? Or if you "only" have "cloth," "stone," or "oil," could you donate a generous and sacrificial portion of it?

This Sunday, I will expand upon this idea of what you can give even more as we study Nehemiah 3. 'Til then, be praying about what the Lord might have you donate, so you can help us meet the bank's requirement for a down payment (and possibly even more).

Erin Bird Lead Pastor - Riverwood Church

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Riverwood Church, Waverly Iowa

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