“And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem.”
Years before these events, Zerubbabel led a host of people from captivity, to begin rebuilding the temple. His ministry was followed up by Ezra, who led the people to recommit themselves to the Lord. Then Nehemiah came with the intent of rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem, for the security and safety of the people, and the work of God. Now that the temple stood and the walls were erected, people were needed to maintain the work of the Lord. This chapter gives us a list of those who gave themselves to the work, at great personal cost. For many choosing to be involved in the service of God meant giving up other ambitions, and even relocating into the city.
Ministry always costs. If we desire to be involved in furthering the work of Christ, it will mean we must invest time, energy, talents, and resources. When these investments are made into the kingdom of God, it means they are no longer available for other things.
The question we must answer is, “Are we willing to make personal sacrifices to further the work of God?” While I am sure that many of us revere those who willingly give themselves to the work of God, I wonder how we have let that affect us personally. We may love to hear the stories of missionaries who sacrifice so much for the cause of Christ, but have we allowed that to stir us, to make our own sacrifices?
Paul explained that we are living sacrifices and that it is reasonable for us to offer ourselves to the work of the Lord (Romans12:1). In what way will you give yourself to the furtherance of the kingdom this week?
1 Chronicles 21:24
“Then King David said to Ornan, ‘No, but I will surely buy it for the full price, for I will not take what is yours for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings with that which costs me nothing.'”
When it comes to worship, we can learn much from King David. The longest book in the Bible is a book of praise songs, and David was its largest contributor. In addition to being a king and a prophet, he was also called the Sweet Psalmist of Israel. In our text, we find David bringing an offering to the Lord. Because of his position as king, Ornan offered him the field and the animals free of charge. Instead of accepting the gift, David made a statement that should become a foundational principle in our worship, “I will not offer that which cost me nothing.”
Worship is one of the highest expressions of our love for the Lord, and should be a costly exercise. We should not be giving the Lord only our excess or our leftovers. We should be offering our best, no matter what the cost. That does not mean we should go into debt to offer to the Lord, but it does mean, we should rethink our spending if we do not have enough to give to God. Worship is expressed when we deny ourself some earthly pleasure, in order to have something to offer the Lord.
David even took time to store up for future offering. In the next chapter we read,
1 Chronicles 22:14
“Indeed I have taken much trouble to prepare for the house of the Lord one hundred thousand talents of gold and one million talents of silver, and bronze and iron beyond measure, for it is so abundant…”
It would be worthwhile to take some time today to examine your checkbook and see what you have given to the Lord, and what has been spent on frivolous things. We live under grace and are free to enjoy the provision God has given us, but we should keep in mind, that Jesus told us to store up treasures in heaven.