A Study in Stewardship - Week of August 15

Discovering God's Design

Gifts Too Precious to Receive?

Verse:  2 Samuel 23:13-17

Some gifts are simply not ours to receive. In this beautiful story, David treated a spectacular gift as something belonging to the Lord, something too precious for him to consume. David’s act brings to mind the Lord’s command not to eat the life blood of an animal in  Deuteronomy 12:23-25 . There, God directs the people to pour out the blood of the animals they were slaughtering. The blood was poured on the ground to remind God’s people that all life comes from him (see also Leviticus 17:11-14).

All that we have—even our very lives—is God’s. This includes gifts from others. Even if the givers intended them for our well-being or enjoyment, we may be prompted by their very generosity to dedicate such things to God. To bring this abstract concept into focus, how would you respond in terms of your relationship to God if you were offered a life-giving kidney or a full scholarship to an institution you had longed to attend? How would your life’s direction be altered if a stranger were to pull you from the wreckage of a burning vehicle? Chances are that, far from refusing the gift, you would accept it gratefully—and then consecrate your life on a whole new level to God.

As preacher and author Oswald Chambers (1874–1917) makes clear below, when we grasp such gifts for ourselves, holding them tightly in clenched fists, we become closed, arrogant and useless. It is only when we deliberately choose to devote both the gifts and our selves (the persons we have become on the basis of these gifts) to God that we can become expansive, intimate, humble stewards.

What has been like water from the well of Bethlehem to you recently? Love, friendship, spiritual blessing? Then at the peril of your soul, you take it to satisfy yourself. If you do, you cannot pour it out before the Lord. How am I to pour out spiritual gifts, or natural friendship or love? How can I give them to the Lord? In one way only—in the determination of my mind … If I hold spiritual blessings or friendships for myself, they will corrupt me, no matter how beautiful they are. I have to pour them out before the Lord, give them to him in my mind, though it looks as if I am wasting them; even as when David poured the water out on the sand, to be instantly sucked up.

There are certain acts of other people one could never accept if one did not know God, because it is not within human power to repay them, all we can do is to pour it out before the Lord. If I take such a line as—“Oh, I am so winsome they have to do this for me,” I have turned it into poison, and it cannot be consecrated to God. But immediately I say—“This is too great and worthy a thing for me, it is not for a human being at all, I must pour it out before the Lord,” then these things pour out in rivers of living water all around.

Think About It

•Can you think of a gift that would be too precious to keep?

•In what way have you dedicated a gift to God?

•How can you live your life with open hands?

Pray About It

God and giver of all:

What can I give you, poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;

If I were a wise man, I would do my part;

Yet what I can I give you—Give my heart.

This devotion is from the NIV Stewardship Study Bible by Zondervan. Used with permission.

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