I was struck by this story in Exodus the other day about when the tabernacle was built shortly after the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt and slavery:

“And they received from Moses all the offering which the children of Israel had brought for the work of the service of making the sanctuary. So they continued bringing to him freewill offerings every morning. Then all the craftsmen who were doing all the work of the sanctuary came, each from the work he was doing, and they spoke to Moses, saying, “The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work which the Lord commanded us to do.” So Moses gave a commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, “Let neither man nor woman do any more work for the offering of the sanctuary.” And the people were restrained from bringing, for the material they had was sufficient for all the work to be done – indeed too much.
Exodus 36:3-7

The first thing that caught my eye was the fact that these were all FREEWILL offerings. People gladly gave from their hearts to help with the work – what a beautiful thought! Then, I was amazed how the story ends with Moses commanding the people to stop bringing offerings because they had too much! That is a beautiful and inspiring story to hear about God’s people mobilizing in such a way that they had to be told to take it easy because they were giving too much.

The thing about that story that is so sobering to me, though, is the knowledge of all the ways these same people turned their back on God in just a short time after this took place. We like to read the Old Testament and shake our heads and sigh at the disobedience of God’s people, but human nature certainly hasn’t changed since then. Our tendency is still to try to check off a few things to feel like we’ve pleased God, and then turn right back to our old attitudes and interests and forget Him again.

I want to be like the people in this story – giving all that I can with joy and without reservation.

“So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”

2 Corinthians 9:7