A Glorious and Confusing Problem

Lindsey Jodts, Groups Pastor, South Barrington | February 22, 2024

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.”

Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.
Exodus 36:4-7

On my son’s first Christmas after he could walk—the year that gift-giving holidays became fun as a parent—he received gifts from what seemed like every person that had ever interacted with him—grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, family friends—a mountain of offerings from excited people in our lives. As the packages arrived in the mail, I was overwhelmed by the generosity of the people who loved our kid so well. Then came Christmas morning. 

As he discovered what this pile of multicolored paper meant, he went from confused to curious to excited. Then, as the gifts continued to come out from under the tree, his demeanor slowly changed from exuberance to overwhelm. There was just too much. He had more than he needed to be entertained and challenged, and instead became fussy and frustrated with the abundant distraction of it all. 

I wonder if that’s a little of what Moses experienced as eager Israelites brought offering after offering to him for the building of the temple. I can imagine his encouragement at first—having bravely asked these formerly enslaved people to give away their treasures in the middle of an unknown journey and seeing their enthusiastic response. He watched as family after family parted with jewelry, coins, and fabric and set it aside for the building of the Tabernacle. And then, suddenly, the generosity became too much—an overwhelming stockpile of materials to work with, things to melt down, stones to reset, fabric to manipulate, yarn to weave, and wood to carve. He and those who received the gifts must have found themselves frozen at the sight of it all. 

What a glorious and confusing problem to have! While Moses could have let the gifts keep coming in, he knew the balance between having enough and the burden of having too much—and it allowed the Israelites to encounter the living God in the middle of the desert. Can you imagine being in a community like that? One where the generosity of the people actually caused the leaders to ask the people to slow down their giving? 

As we challenge ourselves to take a next step of generosity, be encouraged by the impact that a community of abundant givers could have and imagine what it might look like if we became the kind of people whose leaders needed us to slow down to keep up with it all. What kind of community would we become? 

Next Steps

Spend time today praying for the generosity of the church—prayers of praise and thanksgiving for those who are living generously, and prayers of bravery and encouragement for those who are being called to take next steps. Then, spend time praying over the church leaders that they would steward with wisdom and discernment all they have been entrusted with.