Song of Songs 5:1-6:13; 2 Corinthians 9:1-8; Psalms 51:10-19; Proverbs 15:8-10
NT: “The point is this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. Each person should do as he has decided in his heart — not reluctantly or out of compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8 CSB)
Still on the subject of the special offering for the Judean Church, Paul wanted to make sure that the Corinthians honored their promise to give – but he also wanted to make sure that they were giving from the right motivation. During Jesus’s ministry, He talked a lot about money and generosity. How a person handles his or her money is often an indicator of the status of their heart. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21, Luke 12:34). When it comes to giving, Paul described 3 types of givers: 1) those who begrudgingly give out of obligation, 2) those who are coerced to give against their will, and 3) those who give willingly and cheerfully. The motivation behind giving is determined in the heart.
A willing and generous gift comes from a heart that is full of faith and submitted to the word, will and ways of the Lord. My personality tends to lean toward stinginess. I don’t like to be drained of my resources. I don’t ever want to get in a situation where I don’t have enough resources to meet what I need; so my natural tendency is to “hoard” what I have so that I will always have what I need. For me to become a willing and cheerful giver, whether it is monetarily, emotionally or temporally, I must first believe by faith that God is able to both replace and increase what I have expended through service to others. In Christ, there is no running out of resources – but the inflow of resources in my life is determined by the outflow of resources in my life. Gluttony is not allowed in the kingdom of God. The Lord will only get to us what He can get through us – and the only way that I can be a cheerful and willing reservoir of life and conduit of blessing, is if my spirit is broken and my heart is humbled through faith in and submission to Christ.
Psalms: “God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore the joy of your salvation to me, and sustain me by giving me a willing spirit. Then I will teach the rebellious your ways, and sinners will return to you… You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; you are not pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. You will not despise a broken and humbled heart, God.” (Psalms 51:10-13, 16-17 CSB)
David knew that his sin with Bathsheba and his corresponding murder of Uriah was primarily a heart issue. Somewhere in all of the success that God had blessed him with, David’s heart became lifted up and he was no longer satisfied with God’s blessings – he had to go and take what his flesh desired. His proud heart then led to a spirit that was not faithful and steadfast to the Lord.
When a horse trainer trains a horse to receive a saddle and rider, the process is called breaking. Before a horse is broken, it refuses to be ridden and cannot be led – it is wild at heart. Through the process of breaking, the horse comes to trust the rider and oftentimes develops an unbreakable bond with him or her. David allowed his spirit to go wild and his heart to become prideful. Sacrifices and burnt offerings cannot change a person’s spirit and heart – just like gifts given from a wrong motivation do not make a person generous. More than outward rituals and actions, God desires what is inward and unseen to the world. God wants our spirit to be broken towards Him – but He doesn’t want to do the breaking. He wants us to offer our spirit as broken to Him: a spirit that trusts the Lord completely in an unbreakable spiritual bond. God wants our hearts to be humble, but He doesn’t want to do the humbling. He wants us to offer our hearts to Him completely humbled and submitted to His word, will and ways.
The good news is that David’s prayer is answered for all of us through Christ. As we first come to faith in Christ, with a broken spirit and humbled heart, Christ will then fill us with His Holy Spirit and give us new life with a new heart of flesh. By His Spirit, He works in us to both will and do the things that both please Him and are good for us. Then He calls us to share His good news and teach what we have learned to others.
Proverbs: “The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is his delight.” (Proverbs 15:8 CSB)
Outward rituals, gifts and “sacrifices” are meaningless without the right heart behind them. In fact, several times throughout scripture (here included) God states that He despises feigned worship and empty sacrifices. God is always looking at our spirit and our heart. Those who outwardly offer sacrifices but have not sacrificed their heart are not pleasing to the Lord – but those who come to Him in prayer through a broken spirit and humbled heart are His delight.
Prayer: Lord, as someone who has spent his whole life in and around the church, it is easy for me to do what is expected of me outwardly without the right heart and spirit inwardly. I desire to be sincere from the inside out – to always stand worshipfully before You with a broken spirit and a humbled heart. Help me by your grace through the Holy Spirit to be a delight to You. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.