By Henry Mahan
2 Samuel 24:10-24
Regardless of the circumstances found in Verse One, a condition which we find hard to explain, David sinned in numbering Israel (v. 10). The Lord gave David a choice of three punishments: seven years of famine, three months of fleeing before his enemies, or three days of pestilence in the land (vv. 12-13). David refused to make a choice but rather said, 'Let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercies are great; let me not fall into the hand of man' (v. 14). The Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel and destroyed 70,000 men (v. 15). When the angel stretched out his hand to destroy Jerusalem, the Lord said, 'It is enough' (v. 16); and David was commanded to build an altar at the threshingfloor of Araunah, the Jebusite (vv. 18-19). When Araunah saw David and his servants coming to him, he bowed himself before the king and asked his mission. David said, 'I am come to buy your threshingfloor to build an altar unto the Lord, that the plague may be stopped' (vv. 20-21). Araunah replied, 'Here is the threshingfloor, the wood, and the oxen; take them all without charge; they are yours' (vv. 22-23). The king said, 'No! but I will buy it of thee at a price; I will not offer burnt offerings unto the Lord of that which cost me nothing.'
A thankful heart will not come to God bearing a gift which cost him nothing. If it is of no value to you, it will not be received nor blessed of God.
When the Apostle Paul taught the early church the grace of giving (2 Cor. 8:7-9), he referred to the gift of Christ for us-- Christ gave himself. 'Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.' This is the reason our Lord commended the widow's gift (Mark 12:41- 44). She gave sacrificially, she gave what she needed and was of great value, and she gave all she had! Like David, her love for God demanded a gift worthy of him--her all!
Churches and professed Christians today insult God with many of their so called gifts and efforts to raise money for Christian causes. They give that which costs them nothing.
Bakery and candy sales, car washes, rummage sales, used clothing, furniture, and articles which no one needs are given.
Bond sales, with high interest to the buyer, are conducted.
Worthless hillside land is given as a church site. One thing all of these projects have in common is that they cost the giver nothing. There is not in any of them the element of grace, selfdenial, nor sacrifice. Let us look at five lessons learned from
1. Our example in the old testament is that the first fruits belonged to God, the firstling of the flock, the choice lamb, and the firstborn son.
God rebuked the priests of Israel for offering molded bread, lame and sick sheep upon the altar. He said, 'Offer these kinds of gifts to your governor and see if it pleases him (Mal. 1:6-8).
2. A gift which costs nothing reveals a lack of faith in Christ, while gifts of true value and sacrifice reveal a genuine faith in the Lord's power to supply our need (Phil. 4:19; Matt. 6:31-33). Abraham was willing to give his well-beloved son because he believed God (Gen. 22:12). Many in the early church were so strong in faith that they sold their possessions and goods and divided them with poor believers (Acts 22: 44-45) . No true gift of faith and sacrifice goes unnoticed by our God (Mark 10:28- 30).
3. A gift which costs nothing reveals a lack of love for Christ, while true love considers no labor, no cost, no sacrifice too great. 'Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her' (Gen. 29:20). True love is always liberal and open-hearted; and when love is missing, what men give is considered an investment, a charity, or a loss. 'For God so loved .... He gave his only Son.'
4. A gift which costs me nothing reveals a lack of regard for the majesty and glory of God. Dare I offer anything to the Lord of glory which is less than my best? The quality and value of our gifts depend largely on the esteem and respect we have for the recipient.
If you were selected to provide a gift for the President and one for the paperboy, would there be more thought and sacrifice in one than in the other? A gift given in the name of God demands our best.
5. A cheap, part-time, and selfish course of religion, which costs nothing, is an abomination to God and will never be accepted.
The man who found one pearl of great price sold all that he had and bought it (Matt. 13:45-46). Christ said, 'If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me' (Matt. 16:24-26).
Read about Elijah's instructions to the widow who only had enough ingredients for one cake of bread. 'Make me a cake first,' he said (1 Kings 17:9-16). She did, and her blessings were multiplied.