What are we building?
“The word of the Lord came to Solomon: ‘As for this temple you are building, if you follow my decrees, observe my laws and keep all my commands and obey them, I will fulfill through you the promise I gave to David your Father. And I will live among the Israelites and will not abandon my people Israel.'” 1 Kings 6:11-13
At some point you’ve probably heard someone say “put your money where your mouth is.” When people use this phrase, they’re saying to take action and not simply rely on your words. Lots of us will talk about doing things, without ever taking a real action step towards what we say we will do or want to do. This idiom uses money as the example that shows action, and I think there’s a reason for that. What we do with our money and finances shows what we place value on, and ultimately can reveal to us the condition of our hearts.
I think it’s important to think about our relationship with money when we talk about giving and stewardship, but I also think it’s important to note that being a generous person isn’t limited to being generous with our finances. Generosity should be a characteristic of our lives. Generosity should be a disposition we have towards the world. We should be willing and available to give our time, resources, and finances to others. We should be the first people in line to inconvenience ourselves by wanting to give of ourselves to others.
I have to brag about my husband when I talk about generosity, because he’s one of the most generous people I know. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve caught him freely giving others his knowledge, assistance, expertise, and more. Often, as he gives to others, he makes a sacrifice himself. Just the other day Jackson left to take out our puppy, usually a task that only takes a few minutes, and after wondering what was taking him so long as time continued to pass by, I went outside to find him changing one of our neighbors tires. My husband has taught me so much about what giving can and should look like. He’s someone who consistently shows up with generous action to match the words he says when he says he’s a follower of Jesus.
We always have something to give, and we should always be allowing the Spirit of God to guide us into deeper generosity with what we have to give, because ultimately everything we have whether it’s a gift, talent, resource, or financial blessing, is from Him. Last week, I sent out an email about receiving like a child. Jesus gave freely to us, and wants us to receive joyfully, expectantly, dependently, and with humility. So, how should we give?
The easy answer, is to take a follow the leader approach and to give to God just as He has given to us. That means giving even, or maybe especially, when it’s uncomfortable, when it’s a challenge, and when it involves a sacrifice.
I’m often reminding myself that God already gave His Son for me, and that helps me shake off the spirit of entitlement that our culture is often soaked in and turn to living a generous life.
The book of 1 Kings tells us a lot about generosity. Chapters 5 through 8 describe and emphasize the house Solomon built for God, and then Solomon’s own house, although extravagant, only gets twelve verses of attention in the Bible. In the book King Solomon by Philip Ryken, he suggests this is because the Holy Spirit’s concern was with putting importance and emphasis on the house of God. Just the way the scripture walks us through the houses shows us how to prioritize building the house of God in our own lives.
In our church, they talk about giving every week. They either tell a testimony, or share a passage and discuss giving. Considering my husband’s obsession with finance, we were drawn to this church because of how freely and openly they talked about money and generosity. Over the last year, we’ve heard so many testimonies about generosity in our church. A common theme among these testimonies has been homes. People have given generously to the church, and in return, God has supernaturally provided homes for them.
I love seeing the character of God in this, because He created us to desire a dwelling place.
He created us to want a space where we feel known, where we can walk in and relax and feel at home. He knows that, and we’ve seen him continuously bless people in our community with physical spaces to dwell in. But ultimately, the space where we feel the most known, the most at home, and the most comfortable in should be in the presence of God.
Ryken says, “What are your priorities? The place where we live is less important than many things...The psalmist praised God saying, ‘A day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.’ (Ps. 84:10). The places we live are also less important than the construction that God is doing around the world to build his new spiritual temple in Jesus Christ. Do not get distracted. Keep your priorities straight: God’s house is more important than your house.”
For me, it’s become convicting to think about how much we idolize home ownership in our culture. Ryken continues with this idea and talks about how if we are truly placing importance on the house of God over our own house, we should be spending more on giving to the church than we should on our own rent or mortgage payments. Can you imagine how it would advance the Kingdom of God if every family in the church was willing to give that radically?
If we are saying we desire the presence of God, we value a relationship with Him, and we want to see the power of the Holy Spirit moving in our communities, we can’t just talk about it. We have to do something about it too.
We have to put our money where our mouths are, and prioritize God’s house over our own. This actually isn’t that radical of an idea, because when we put God’s house first, we can count on Him to provide for ours. He’s a good Father, eager to give generously to us. I want to be equally eager to give generously to Him.
When we devote ourselves to building the house of God, through giving generously in our finances, time, and resources, His promise is that He comes to dwell in it. We make space for God, we make God a priority, and He shows up. He is the temple. He is the dwelling place. He also tells us we are temples, because the Holy Spirit has come to dwell in us. The church is His temple, it is His plan for redemption and for advancement of the gospel on earth. Finally, we have the heavenly temple that is perfected in eternity. We are promised a place to dwell, a place to be at home, a place to feel known. And right now, we get to play a part in building it.
-When you reflect on your life, what do you focus on building? What does it show about your priorities?
-How can you take action to build and grow the kingdom of God in your life?
-What would it look like to entrust God to build and grow your desires, while you focus on His house first?
King Jesus, thank you for coming and giving yourself to us. Thank you for leaving us with the Holy Spirit, dwelling in us to guide us, instruct us, and teach us your ways. Let our hearts and actions reflect the generosity you have shown us and continually show us through favor and blessings in our lives. Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us an eternal dwelling place. Give us the courage and boldness to build and create in a way that honors and glorifies you. Amen.