Uniform Adult Sunday School Lesson for May 6, 2018
To give eagerly
Background: Exodus 25:1-7, 35:4-29; Leviticus 27:30-33; 2 Corinthians 9:6-8
Exodus 35:20-29 (CEB)
20 The whole Israelite community left Moses. 21 Everyone who was excited and eager to participate brought the Lord’s gift offerings to be used for building the meeting tent and all its furnishings and for the holy clothes.
22 Both men and women came forward. Everyone who was eager to participate brought pins, earrings, rings, and necklaces, all sorts of gold objects. Everyone raised an uplifted offering of gold to the Lord. 23 And everyone who had blue or purple or deep red yarn or fine linen or goats’ hair or rams’ skins dyed red or beaded leather brought them. 24 Everyone who could make a gift offering of silver or copper brought it as the Lord’s gift offering. Everyone who had acacia wood that could be used in any kind of building work brought it. 25 All the skilled women spun cloth with their hands, and brought what they had spun in blue and purple and deep red yarns and fine linen. 26 All the women who were eager to use their skill spun the goats’ hair. 27The chiefs brought gemstones and gems to be set in the priest’s vest and the chest pendant, 28 spices and oil for light and for the anointing oil, and for the sweet-smelling incense. 29 All the Israelite men and women who were eager to contribute something for the work that the Lord had commanded Moses to do brought it as a spontaneous gift to the Lord.
2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (CEB)
6 What I mean is this: the one who sows a small number of seeds will also reap a small crop, and the one who sows a generous amount of seeds will also reap a generous crop. 7 Everyone should give whatever they have decided in their heart. They shouldn’t give with hesitation or because of pressure. God loves a cheerful giver. 8 God has the power to provide you with more than enough of every kind of grace. That way, you will have everything you need always and in everything to provide more than enough for every kind of good work.
What I mean is this: the one who sows a small number of seeds will also reap a small crop, and the one who sows a generous amount of seeds will also reap a generous crop. (2 Corinthians 9:6)
This lesson is the first in a new unit titled “Give Praise to God.” As the title for this lesson suggests, one of the ways we give praise to God is by giving from a generous heart.
After Moses descended Mount Sinai the second time “with the two covenant tablets in his hand” (Exodus 34:29), he “gathered together the whole Israelite community and said to them: These are the things that the Lord has commanded you to do” (Exodus 35:1). The biblical text for this lesson picks up the story here.
If you read the background scriptures you find each text contains a list of gift offerings that will “be used for building the meeting tent and all its furnishings and for the holy clothes” (Exodus 35:21). The passage from Exodus 25 is included in the words God spoke to Moses during their first meeting on Mount Sinai. The passage from Exodus 35 is included in Moses’ report to the Israelites of what God desired for them to do. Note the words in both texts: “freely wants to give” (Exodus 25:2; 35:5)
Exodus 35:20-21: This begins the Print Passage for this lesson. After the people heard Moses declare God’s instructions regarding the construction of the holy dwelling, they dispersed in order to obey God’s command and collect the necessary items. Note these important points:
The people who wanted to participate were “excited and eager” (verse 21). Giving was not required. The command to “collect gift offerings for the Lord from all of you” was followed by “whoever freely wants to give” (verse 5). The instruction to give was extended to everyone, indicating “both men and women” (verse 22). Moses gave the Lord’s instructions “to the whole Israelite community” (verse 4), yet the gifts were offered by individuals, not the community as a whole. We saw in the backstory that the Israelites had previously responded to God’s gift of deliverance from Egypt with complaints about living in the desert and unfaithfulness by worshiping an idol. These actions almost caused God to destroy and abandon them. Perhaps their “excited and eager” attitude toward giving was a sign of relief and thankfulness for a second opportunity to live in God’s presence.
In our passages from 2 Corinthians, Paul talks about the act of giving as also being an expression of faith and trust in God. Note the repetition of the phrase “more than enough.” Paul was talking about abundant generosity on the part of God and the people. He wrote, “God has the power to provide you with more than enough of every kind of grace.”
Verse 7 has a new theory on giving, “Everyone should give whatever they have decided in their heart. They shouldn’t give with hesitation or because of pressure. God loves a cheerful giver.”
Our gifts should reflect our faith and trust in God’s grace. As recipients of that grace, we are equipped “to provide more than enough for every kind of good work.” When the people of Israel placed their trust in God to provide for their needs in the desert, they were able “to provide more than enough” to complete the construction of “the meeting tent and all its furnishings and for the holy clothes” (Exodus 35:21). They reaped the harvest of God’s grace and faithfulness.
My hymn for this week is “He Giveth More Grace.”