“Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, I will testify against you. I am God, your God. Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me. I will not accept a bull from your house or goats from your folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine. “If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
Madison, our granddaughter who lives in Texas, turned seven this year. Her parents decided this would be a great time to begin giving her an allowance and teach her the habits of saving and giving. She was so excited to finally be able to participate in the offering time at their church. When the basket came down her row, she grabbed it, held it boldly in front of her, raised her single dollar bill high above her head and watched it float to its resting place with a smile of satisfaction on her face. Then she glanced around and made sure her parents, and everyone else, saw her act of outrageous generosity. She is not the first person to do the right thing for less than the best reason. Many of us often give for the applause of others, or to have our name on a bench, a brick, or a building. Sometimes we give to bail God out – how else will His work get done? Some of us have given out of a sense of duty or obligation.
In this section of Psalm 50, Asaph challenges God’s people that they too have given, but not for the right reasons. Verse 7 makes it clear that some correction is sorely needed. Verses 9-13 reveals that the Israelites, like their pagan neighbors, have seen their offerings as a way of supplying what God needs. (The religions of the region considered sacrifices brought to the idols as the food of the gods.) In reality, He needs nothing from us. The famous line, “God owns the cattle on a thousand hills” comes from this Psalm.
Asaph corrects their thinking – God doesn’t need anything they give; rather they need to give for what it does for them! (Please read that sentence again!) Two ideas emerge for verse 14; thankfulness and making a vow:
– Giving reminds them that everything they have comes from God. How easy it is to believe that what we have is ours, rather than gifts from a merciful God. A thankful heart overflows with gratitude and holds everything with an open hand.
– Giving also demonstrates that we are counting on God rather than our stuff. It’s easy to think that our efforts, our smarts, our savings account, or IRA will provide for us. When we’re sacrificially generous, we declare our true allegiance. In the person and work of Jesus God, “richly provides everything we need for life and godliness.” (2 Peter 1:3)
In this season of Abounding, you and your family will have the opportunity to do both of these. Your commitment will be a clear statement of your gratitude, recognizing all that God, through His Son, has done for you. The faith-driven, generous amount of your commitment will be a bold statement of your trust in God to provide all you need to honor Him.
- List reasons why people give.
- With how many can you personally identify?
- How will this season of giving be different?
Today’s devotional was prayed over and prepared by Mark Norman, Pastor Emeritus