What kind of attitude does God want us to have when we take a part in His Work? And, of course, His Work at times includes offerings as well as other actions. We know that God loves a cheerful giver which is something we are often reminded of before the Holy Day offerings (see 2 Corinthians 9:7).
In the Old Testament writings, when the tabernacle was being built, the term “willing” was used regarding the offering people gave for its construction. In Exodus 35, the term “willing” or “freewill” is used five times in the New King James Bible, showing how important this attribute is considered by God. The first mention is in Exodus 35:5 where we read, “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: gold, silver, and bronze…” The meaning of “willing” in this chapter is “generous, spontaneous, voluntary, abundant”—all being attitudes that God desires in us as we serve Him.
Much later, when King David was instructing his son to be the future king and to serve God, he used the terms “a loyal heart” and “a willing mind” in 1 Chronicles 28:9. In this case, willing is from a different Hebrew word meaning “delight in, desire, have pleasure.” In other words, delight in serving God and ruling His people correctly.
At the time just before Solomon began building the temple in Jerusalem, we also read in 1 Chronicles 29:6, “Then the leaders of the fathers’ houses, leaders of the tribes of Israel, the captains of thousands and of hundreds, with the officers over the king’s work, offered willingly.” They gave abundantly materials for the building of the temple as had King David.
There is an interesting example in the New Testament of a man who was willingly serving God, and that man was Cornelius. He was “a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always” (Acts 10:2). Doing good to all, especially those who are of the household of faith as we have opportunity, which would include giving alms or charitable gifts generously or willingly, is mentioned in Galatians 6:10 as good works we are to perform. What is also interesting in the account of the angel visiting Cornelius is that the angel puts the prayers of Cornelius first before the alms as a memorial before God. (See Acts 10:4 and Acts 10:31). So both are a memorial but God puts prayers first here while He placed alms first in Acts 10:2. Both are part of an important memorial.
Of course, there are warnings if we do not serve God willingly. Jeremiah 48 tells us that God was using an army (possibly the Chaldeans, depending on which commentary is referred to) to destroy ancient Moab because of their attitudes and actions. (We understand, of course, that this entire passage is mainly a prophecy for the “latter days,” note Jeremiah 48:47). In Jeremiah 48:10 we read, “Cursed is he who does the work of the LORD deceitfully, And cursed is he who keeps back his sword from blood.”
The Pulpit Commentary shows the literal translation of “deceitfully” means “slackly, negligently.” And the New Testament mentions examples of people doing God’s Work deceitfully or negligently.
Early in the New Testament Church, a couple, Ananias and Saphira, tried to deceive the apostles and the Church by claiming their gift was the full amount of what they sold, whereas it was only a part. They were exaggerating their gift—possibly, to receive more praise. See Acts 5:1-2. God inspired Peter to see through the deception and the result was that God killed both the man and his wife because of them lying to the Holy Spirit.
In the letter to the Church of the Laodiceans in Revelation 3:14-22, God condemns the Laodiceans for not being zealous. They believed they were rich, had become wealthy, and had need of nothing, whereas God told them they were wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. By being self-satisfied and not being zealous in their lives, including their need to repent and to overcome, what little, if any, of God’s Work they were doing, they were doing negligently or with a slack hand. Because of this attitude, God intended to vomit them out of His mouth.
So, from these examples, we see that no matter whether we have a large or a small part in God’s Work, we must do our part willingly and zealously, and without any deception. When we do this, our efforts will be a memorial well pleasing to God.