There’s a word hovering in my mind when I think about this story of Moses gathering the materials needed to build the Tabernacle in Exodus 35. The word is “willing.” So I took a quick count of the times this word was recorded in my NIV Study Bible and found five. The first time was tossed out by Moses: “Everyone who is willing is to bring…” (vs. 5). And just that one sentence reminded me that everyone is motivated by something, but it’s not easy to motivate someone else. So, when it comes to giving your resources (time, talents, finances), what motivates you?
Have you ever heard the expression, “Guilt is a terrible thing to waste”? We usually laugh when we quote it, don’t we? As I glanced back beyond the chapters in Exodus that Pastor Sean asked us to read this week (chapters 34, 35, and 36), I found the story of the Golden Calf (Ex. 32). What a debacle! But it got me thinking about guilt. Could that scene of chaos, anger, the smashing of the first stone tablets God gave Moses, and retribution from the Lord in the form of a plague possibly have set the tone for repentance among the people? Could it have made the hearts of the Israelites melt with willingness to honor God when Moses asked for their offerings to build the Tabernacle? Of course, I’m just ruminating – so don’t take my word for it, okay? But when I think of my own times of guilt and shame – times that eventually led me to repentance, I know my heart turned amazingly willing to do whatever the Lord asked next of me.
For the Israelites, scripture only tells us that sacrifice–and their willingness to give so liberally–was born from a “heart moved” to do so (vs. 21). No typical command does that, you know? In fact, being ordered to do something usually produces the opposite response in us, doesn’t it? The quantity and quality of the Israelites’ offerings certainly was impressive. And it seems service went right along with the tangible goods: “Every skilled woman spun with her hands and brought what she had spun…” (vs. 25) Only love experienced on the heels of repentance can produce that kind of sacrifice, to my way of thinking.
And the only question that remains is the one meant for us: Have you experienced God’s unconditional, overwhelming, grace-filled love lately?