32 “We also take on ourselves the obligation to give yearly a third part of a shekel for the service of the house of our God: 33 for the showbread, the regular grain offering, the regular burnt offering, the Sabbaths, the new moons, the appointed feasts, the holy things, and the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel, and for all the work of the house of our God. 34 We, the priests, the Levites, and the people, have likewise cast lots for the wood offering, to bring it into the house of our God, according to our fathers’ houses, at times appointed, year by year, to burn on the altar of the Lord our God, as it is written in the Law. 35 We obligate ourselves to bring the firstfruits of our ground and the firstfruits of all fruit of every tree, year by year, to the house of the Lord; 36 also to bring to the house of our God, to the priests who minister in the house of our God, the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, as it is written in the Law, and the firstborn of our herds and of our flocks; 37 and to bring the first of our dough, and our contributions, the fruit of every tree, the wine and the oil, to the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and to bring to the Levites the tithes from our ground, for it is the Levites who collect the tithes in all our towns where we labor. 38 And the priest, the son of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive the tithes. And the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes to the house of our God, to the chambers of the storehouse. 39 For the people of Israel and the sons of Levi shall bring the contribution of grain, wine, and oil to the chambers, where the vessels of the sanctuary are, as well as the priests who minister, and the gatekeepers and the singers. We will not neglect the house of our God.”
To summarize this section, we can say that the people, along with their other commitments from verses 30-31, also committed themselves to give of their time and their money for the ministry of God’s temple. This is not complicated. They committed themselves to tithe, and then to give even more in order to keep the ministry going. They also committed themselves to take a turn gathering wood for the ceremonial fires, to work for the sake of the ministry. This was, of course, in line with God’s commands that the people give at least a tenth of their income to him and to provide for the needs of those who would teach his law.
Recently, a major report was released by the Southern Baptist Convention’s Great Commission Resurgence Task Force. I want to share with you a couple of lines from page 26 of this report:
Regarding personal biblical stewardship, I stand amazed at research released in 2009 that informs us that the average church member gives only 2.56% of their income away… Christians need to repent of the sin of not honoring God with at least the first-tenth of their income. Can you imagine the spiritual revival that would consume our churches if God’s people would obey God in giving? Can you imagine the opportunities of advancing the Gospel regionally, nationally, and globally if God’s people would obey God in giving? The greatest amount of money that exists for the causes of Christ and the advancement of the Gospel is in the pockets and financial portfolios of our church members.*
Can you believe those stats? God commands us to give freely, generously, systematically, and sacrificially. I think most Christians would agree that God wants you to give at least the first tenth of your income. Yet Christians on average give only two-and-a-half percent away. No wonder churches are struggling to meet budget. No wonder the Spirit of God is so seldom felt in our congregations. If you are walking into the sanctuary fully planning to disobey God’s call to give rightly, how dare you expect that God will bless you or grow his church?
And the people did not only give money. They gave time and service. The people had to commit themselves to go and gather wood for the sacrificial fires. They knew that ministry would not do itself. They knew, if the fires were going to stay lit, they had to go get the wood. The people committed themselves to obey God’s call to serve.
How about you? How are you serving? Do you think that all you need to do is sit in a pew once a week to do what God wants? I assure you that this is not enough. God wants you to make yourself available to him and to his service. There are jobs that need to be done in your church if only people will step forward and express a willingness to do them. We need people to help us to think and plan for missions involvement. We need people to help us think and plan for evangelistic outreaches in the community. We need people to help take care of the property that god has placed in our care. We need people to teach children and serve in the nursery. Lost people need someone to tell them about Jesus. The fact is, God has gifted you to serve him in some way. Are you doing what you are capable of doing to expand the ministry of your church? Christians, there needs to be repentance in our midst.
*Ronnie W. Floyd et al, “Progress Report of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force of the Southern Baptist Convention” (February 22, 2010), 26 [on-line]; accessed 26 Feb 2010; available from http://www.pray4gcr.com/downloads/GCRTF_Progress_Report.pdf; Internet.