“Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work. They received from Moses all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of constructing the sanctuary. And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning. So all the skilled workers who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left what they were doing and said to Moses, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.” -Exodus 36:2-5
I have four kids. Many times they do not simply do what they are instructed to do the first time; let alone doing it with a willing heart! (I know I wasn’t any different myself). Rarer still are the times we have to tell them to stop helping or cleaning as opposed to exasperatingly telling them a thousand times to start doing what we have already instructed them to do. Sometimes as a parent, it is easier to relate to the Moses who had to deal with complaining attitudes and disobedience among the children of Israel, than this story. However, the occasions where they just seem to sweetly, joyfully and willingly obey, there is nothing more precious or beautiful!
I pastored a church for six years. Sometimes it felt like trying to pull teeth to find willing volunteers to serve. And I regretfully, but honestly, admit that sometimes I could relate more as a pastor to the Moses who came down the mountain from the presence of God with the Word of God, excited to communicate it with the people; only to get frustrated by what the people were doing (or not doing) and “break” it in pieces before them, rather than break it forth in love for them. But the occasions where people willingly, joyfully stepped forward and served, or embraced God’s Word and acted on it in their lives, there was nothing more precious and beautiful!
I am now helping to lead a mission organization. Sometimes it feels we are scrambling or scraping to try to figure out how we will meet our budget to fulfill what we feel called to do. I am praying for the day, like I read about here, when we don’t have to plead for people to give but have to plead with them to stop, because they are giving too much!
But let’s pause to think about this scene and unpack what is happening in this passage for a moment. Notice, there were three groups of people in this story with three different roles. First, Moses as the leader, communicated the vision and instructions of the Lord to the people and specifically the skilled workers. That’s the role of leaders. Contrary to popular opinion and practice, leaders are actually not those who do all the work for the people. Too many churches for example, “hire” pastors to do the work they should be doing. Biblically speaking, the role of leaders is to equip the people to do the work (Ephesians 4:11-16)!
Secondly in fact, there were those who were skilled and gifted to do the work that needed done in this situation. And notice, it was the Lord who gave them these abilities. Not everyone is called or gifted in the same way to do certain things. As I was explaining to my kids as we read this story together for our devotions, we all have strengths and weaknesses. There are simply some things we are good at or gifted in and other things we are not. And in this passage, those who were skilled in the work that needed done, were summoned by the leaders, equipped by the leaders and began to do the work at the God-given instructions of the leader. They used their skills to serve the Lord in the work of the Lord to the glory of the Lord at the instruction of the Lord in response to the call of the Lord!
The third group in this story were the people who gave offerings for the work to be done. They were not skilled in going and doing the work themselves, but they were able to contribute through gifts and offerings. They had resources to give so the work could be done. Sometimes this is the role we find ourselves in. And in this case, the people were so generous they had to be told to stop giving because they were giving more than enough! They not only gave what was needed but more than what was needed!
So you had the leaders who obediently communicated the vision, the skilled workers who knew how to actually carry out the work and did so willingly; and the people who gave to make the work possible. This is an example of what it is supposed to look like! And when this happens within a family, or in a church, or on a team, or in a mission organization; there is nothing more beautiful and precious! It’s a picture of Christ’s body healthy, unified, mature and effective!
But it’s really and ultimately, a reflection of the Trinity. Think about it. The Father chose, sent and commissioned the Son. The Son came to serve and fulfill the Father’s will. And the Spirit has been given as a gift that the work might be accomplished! Therefore, when we all do what we are called and gifted to do, we become not only a personal example, but together we become a reflection of the perfect and beautiful Triune nature of God himself! Three yet One and One yet three Persons!
I’d like to encourage you to pray along with me that God will give me (and you and all his people) a more responsive, obedient, willing, generous heart. In what situations are you are being called to communicate, instruct or lead? In what ways are you skilled or gifted to serve? How can you practically use those gifts to willingly and cheerfully meet some need or fulfill some task? And what resources has God given you that you can freely and generously give to be used so that God’s work might be accomplished?
May those who are skilled and gifted come forth to carry out the work that needs done. May those with resources freely give generously and keep on giving till there is more than enough, rather than more that is needed. And may those entrusted with instructing, communicating and calling on God’s people to do his work and obey his word; do so faithfully and patiently. In other words, may the leaders speak clearly, the servants work skillfully and the people give generously. Because when these three things happen, there is nothing more beautiful and precious…for God himself is seen!
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” -Romans 12:6-8
“For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.” -2 Corinthians 8:3-5