Read Exodus 35
Focus on verse 4-9
Giving is an act of generosity, but only if it is truly given freely by the will of the giver. When my heart stirs me to give something to a person or cause, and it is truly motivated by the desire of my heart, it is typically followed by a strong sense of gratification in having done the right thing. Conversely, when I contribute to a cause because I have been guilted or coerced into giving, I feel like I have been robbed.
In today’s reading the Lord instructs Moses to provide the people with an opportunity to contribute to the building of the tabernacle.
Moses said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “This is the thing that the Lord has commanded. Take from among you a contribution to the Lord.
Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the Lord’s contribution: gold, silver, and bronze; blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen; goats’ hair, tanned rams’ skins, and goatskins; acacia wood, oil for the light, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, and onyx stones and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. (v. 4-9)
The key phrase in this case is “whoever is of a generous heart”. In other words, this is voluntary. You don’t have to contribute if you don’t want to – in fact, if you don’t want to – please don’t contribute.
As we continue to read the chapter it becomes clear that the people respond with great generosity. There are several things that Moses does and says that make this project clearly a successful fund-raiser.
- Moses clearly described the cause… God had instructed them to build a tent of meeting or “tabernacle”.
- Moses clearly defined the goal… “gold, silver, bronze, colored yarn and twisted linen, goats’ hair, rams’ skins, goatskins, and acacia wood, oil, spices, incense, onyx stones, and precious gems.”
- Moses connected the project to their heart – “whoever is of a generous heart” (v. 5)
- Moses was operating under the direction of the Spirit of God – “this is the thing the Lord has commanded” (v. 4)
The result was that the people responded with genuine generosity and with freedom and passion. There was no sense of compulsion or coercion or even manipulation on the part of Moses or any of the other leaders: “everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him” (v. 21) responded supplying everything that was needed out of their own time, talent and treasure, and the tabernacle would be built just as the Lord had commanded Moses.