David for King, Refining Stewards
Welcome to the eighth week of our summer series, David for King. We are getting to know the story of David a little bit better this summer. I hope you’ve learned about David, and have applied these lessons to your own life.
This week we’re talking about a smaller story in David’s life, but a significant one. It covers an attitude to adapt and an example to follow. First, I should warn you that today’s message is about giving our money. I tell you this up front because we’re not a bait and switch church, we’re not a fundraising church. But we do preach about generosity and giving and honoring God with our finances. Maybe as soon as I’ve said the word “giving” this morning, you are thinking, Whoa, wait a minute, “you know, my financial situation needs a lot of attention before I can even entertain the idea of giving.”
If that’s you, I want you to know that as a church, we’re here for you. If that means helping you with a monthly budget, or saving for retirement, or getting out of debt, we would like to help you. We have and will continue to offer classes on financial wellness and budgeting. Let us help you. The next financial wellness sessions will be in October.
Maybe you’re church shopping this morning and I have just said the magic word, ‘money’, and you’re thinking, “I’m never coming back here again.” Well, you’re entitled to say that as you leave, if you want, but hear me out. I promise there is no appeal in today’s message. I’m not asking for anything. I hope you listen, and I hope you come back next weekend.
Let’s get into today’s story about David. David’s getting a little older in life. He’s tempted to take a census of all the men in his army. But this is not God’s will. David’s own advisors ask him, “David, are you sure you want to do this?” And even though it’s prideful, he does it anyway. It was a sin because David was boasting by counting Israel’s large army and because it showed that David was no longer trusting in God but on his own ability to ammas a great army.
David sees the error of his ways and he repents of his pride. After he repents, God invites him to come worship him, and he invites him to come worship with specific instructions. And that’s the story we’re going to get to know today.
Maybe that’s a cue for some of us today. Just as David sinned and immediately after, God invites him to come worship, maybe that’s why you’re in church today, just to hear that message. No matter what happened this week, what you did, or can’t believe you did again, God wants a relationship with you. He invites you to worship him, and he’s glad that you’re here no matter what.
So, David is preparing an altar to worship the Lord. The specific instructions that God gives him is to go to a farmer named Ornan (nan like man) and to build an altar on his threshing floor.
As David came toward him, Ornan looked up and saw that it was King David. He left the threshing floor and bowed down before David, his face to the ground.
We learn Ornan is a man of respect and humility, a man of honor.
This physical gesture shows us something about the posture of his heart. David said to Ornan, sell me this threshing floor that I may build on it an altar to the Lord. Sell it to me at its full price. But Ornan said to David, “No. . . Take it and do what is good in your sight. I also give you the oxen for the burnt offering, the threshing sledges for the wood, and the wheat for the grain offering. I give it all to you.”
A threshing floor was a plot of land on a farmer’s property where they would dump all of their harvested grain. Using livestock and big rollers they would separate the husk from the grain. The wheat is separated from the chaff and because the chaff was lighter, the husks of the shells would blow off in the breeze. But the grain, the heavier part would remain.
The inedible now separated from the edible, the bad now separated from the good.
This threshing floor and this whole process was really important to Ornan. It was important to him and his family because he would have used this to feed his family. But also, they would have sold and traded all of their harvest for other necessities of life. Despite how important this threshing floor is to Ornan, he says to David, “My Lord and my king, take it as your own. I give it all to you.” What a display of generosity, made possible because of the posture of Ornan’s heart.
Today’s first point is honoring God with our finances. It’s an attitude adjustment. We are stewards, not owners. You see Ornan understood that all of his possessions, his threshing floor, was not his own, but it was entrusted to him.
He was just a manager of it. The same is true for you and me. All of our investments, all of your possessions, all of your money, all of your savings, it’s not yours. It is God’s. It’s true that, in this life, you can earn money, but it’s not yours; it is God’s. We get to use it for a time.
The best illustration of this is what happens when you die. When you die, your family, if you have kids, will gather around. They will divide up all your stuff. They will divide up your money, maybe according to your will, and you are going to take none of it with you, because it’s not yours. It is God’s. David understood this point when he wrote in Psalm 24, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it.”
When you possess money, possess wealth in this life, it is entrusted to you for a period of time. You are its steward or manager, but someone else’s turn is going to come soon or eventually because this is not our home. We’re going to live somewhere in eternity and Ornan understood this. When he was presented with an opportunity to give, to advance the kingdom of God, he did so freely and willingly and generously. When we understand this principle, that we are stewards, not owners, just like Ornan, we start to see life differently. This is not our home. Heaven is our home.
Giving is about our hearts. It’s an attitude adjustment, a mindset shift, that we are not owners, we’re just managers. When we start to really take hold of that, we start to understand that our possessions are not ours to stockpile and to hoard and to guard.
They’ve been entrusted to us just for a little while, to share with others, to bless others, and to use to do good. It’s a paradigm shift and one that can set us free. That’s the first point.
But, getting back to David and Ornan, Ornan says, “Take it all, my king,” but the conversation doesn’t end there. King David replies to Ornan; “no, I will buy it from you properly at its full price.” David insists upon paying full price and says, “I will not take what is yours for the Lord, nor bring burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”
David knew this wasn’t just a transaction of goods or services. This was meant to be a worship offering to the Lord. This is our second point today. A worship offering requires a sacrifice. David knew he couldn’t offer up something to God that he had received for free.
King David said, “I can not offer as sacrifices what isn’t a sacrifice?” It’s a contradiction.
When we talk about giving to the Kingdom of God, to the church, or to the poor, we talk about it as a worship offering. An offering that honors and praises God is a sacrificial offering. When we gather here for Mass, our offertory is meant to be a worship offering. It’s a sacrifice for each and every one of us because a worship offering requires a sacrifice.
Here are some things to help you make your offering a sacrifice. Make your giving a priority. Give first. Don’t just give the leftovers, what’s left at the end of the month or at the end of the year. Give your first fruits to God. Make your giving planned. Be intentional about it by planning it. Don’t base it on a feeling, or guilt, or what you have in your wallet that day.
Be intentional about your giving. Make your giving a percentage, keeping in mind that the biblical standard is the tithe of 10%. Even if you are not there yet, know what percentage you are giving. And then lastly, make your giving progressive. That means grow in your giving. Don’t be stagnant.
I want to emphasize this last point, because comfort and complacency don’t go with sacrifice. I’d go out on a limb here to say that if you’ve been giving the same thing for a little while, maybe for a few years, it’s probably more comfortable than sacrificial. So I want to encourage you to pray about progressing, about growing in your giving because giving is about our hearts, honoring God with our hearts, and a worship offering requires a sacrifice. David gives us a great example to follow.
Back to the story, David insists on paying full price for the threshing floor where he builds an altar for animal sacrifice to God. The Lord delighted in the sacrifices of David, and he would return there again and again, worshiping God and meeting with him there. The story ends with this verse. David said, “here shall be the house of the Lord God and here the altar of burnt offering for Israel.”
What David is declaring is, the threshing floor is going to become the building site for the temple of all of Israel. The great, the grand majestic temple that his son Solomon would build for the entire nation of Israel would be built here on this farmer’s threshing floor.
Remember the threshing floor is the place where the wheat is separated from the chaff.
So as it was thrown up into the wind, the grain would fall, and the chaff would blow away. The inedible is separated from the edible, the good separated from the bad. Why would God want David to build the temple on a threshing floor? The symbolism is beautiful. A threshing floor is a place of refinement, a place of purification, symbolizing that God is making our hearts new.
Every time we worship God, He is making our hearts new. Our sin is separated. It is blow away, and what’s left behind is our true selves. That is a direct connection to our second reading today which says: “let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us.” And you know what else? Every time you give, a little bit of your greed blows away, a little bit of your selfishness, your materialism, and your reliance on your possessions.
Every time you give, your fear about the future, your insecurity about the future, blows away, and what is left behind is more pure, more holy, more righteous. In the process, God is making you to be more like your Heavenly Father. And this is what you get to take with you. Because giving is about our hearts.
Our possessions, our stuff, is not ours. It’s just been entrusted to us for a little while. God calls us to give sacrificially. And when we do, he changes our hearts to be more like his.