“…With joy I have seen Your people, who are present here, make their offerings willingly to You. O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, our fathers, preserve this forever in the intentions of the heart of Your people, and direct their heart to You;”
1 Chronicles 29:17-18 NASB1995
This is something the Lord has been challenging and encouraging me with recently: I believe there is much God wants to accomplish, that has been unfulfilled, simply because of an unwillingness on the part of His people. This is why David delighted at the gifts in 1 Chronicles 29, because they were not required, but were an overflow of love.
Is my heart overflowing with love for the Lord? We’d all love for that to be true of us, but here’s the test: our willingness. Does the needful work seem inconvenient? Are there good reasons why the Lord should ask another?
Then He will! If God does not find us willing, He will not compel us. He will simply look for another who is willing.
“Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
2 Corinthians 9:7 NASB1995
Is the purpose that is fixed in my heart to be cheerfully giving? Am I available to the Lord? Or do I only act when compelled? These are searching questions, and are deeply revealing if we are to have a true measure of our love for the Lord.
We make much of our emotions, the feelings of sadness when we think about the cross, etc. Let’s not confuse that with devotion. As good as it is to be moved — and as much as we MUST be moved, and increasingly so as we see the true sacrifice of Jesus in His dying and in His living — our feelings are not where we look to determine our affection.
We need to examine our willingness. It says in Ephesians 2:10 that God has prepared good works for us to walk in, but He will not compel us! He will only invite us. And it is good to ask, “Am I truly available to the Lord for what He would have me to do?”
An Example of Willingness
Jesus mentioned in Luke 4 how, though there were many widows in Israel, yet when the Lord wanted to provide for His prophet Elijah, He had to send Elijah to Zarepheth, in the land of Sidon. We see why in 1 Kings 17:
“Elijah arose and went to Zarephath, and when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks; and he called to her and said, “Please get me a little water in a jar, that I may drink.” As she was going to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand.” But she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and die.””
1 Kings 17:10-12 NASB1995
Here’s an amazing thing: a widow on the brink of death, gathering sticks to prepare her family’s last meal, stops what she’s doing to get a stranger a cup of water. She was available, no matter the inconvenience! I believe that if she had not stopped gathering sticks to fetch that cup of water, the Lord would have sent Elijah elsewhere.
What important sticks am I gathering in my life? Am I available to be interrupted and inconvenienced when the Lord calls? I fear this may be the reason for much of our light harvest. As the Lord warns in that same passage, just before “God loves a cheerful giver,”
“Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 NASB1995
Here’s the reason we reap so little: we have sown little availability. We are not willing. We need to hear the word the Lord spoke to the people who had returned from Babylon to Jerusalem, but had grown slack in their work,
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘This people says, “The time has not come, even the time for the house of the Lord to be rebuilt.” ’ Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, ‘Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate?’ Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Consider your ways!’
Haggai 1:2-5 NASB1995
The Promise to the Repentant
The great hope that we have is, if we take the Lord’s word seriously, He will strongly support our willing availability, and give an extra measure of grace.
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;”
2 Corinthians 9:6-8 NASB1995
We need not fear that we won’t have the ability. We most assuredly will not. But God is not looking for ability. He is looking for availability. He will supply abundant grace to the cheerful giver who sows bountifully.