And Moses spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, “This is the thing which the Lord commanded, saying: ‘Take from among you an offering to the Lord. Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to the Lord.’ (Exodus 35:4-5)
There is a common perception among Christians that most everything Israel was instructed to do was mandatory. The reality is that most everything they were commanded to do was only if they had a heart to do it. In fact, any type of offering that was brought unto the LORD, whether for sin or thanksgiving, was to come only from those who had a desire to approach the LORD — only then was there a protocol. Meaning that those who had no such desire were not required to bring an offering but were free to do their own way — and suffer the consequences of their choice. The instructions that were given were to those who were in covenant with Him — those who had said they were willing to do all that God instructed them to do.
From the beginning, it has always been about relationship and not the route of religion that pleases our heavenly Father. So then, the offerings that were regarded as acceptable to the LORD were those given with a willing and obedient heart, not necessarily every offering that was presented. For instance, Cain’s grain offering was rejected, not because of what he presented, but because of the manner in which it was presented. It was the condition of his heart that made it unacceptable.
Years after the instruction given by Moses, David would write, “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; my ears You have opened…I delight to do Your will, O my God and Your law is within my heart.” (Psalm 40:6, 8). It would seem that David’s ears were opened to actually hear what God was trying to say through the instructions He gave to His people — that is, He doesn’t want our stuff, He wants our hearts. He desires for us to serve Him because it is in our heart to do so.
One of the ways we can express that is to give with a “willing heart.” The Apostle Paul said that we are not to do so grudgingly — frankly, God doesn’t want that kind of gift — because “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). So then, in everything we do in service to God, let us do it with a willing heart and with all our heart. Let us, as the Psalmist exhorted, “Serve the LORD with gladness” (Psalm 100:2).
Blessings and Shalom,