The Congregation That Gave Too Much

Bible Book: Exodus  36
Subject: Stewardship; Giving; Money; Possessions; Offerings; Building Projects

The Congregation That Gave Too Much

Exodus 36

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor, PastorLife

Sometimes trying to do too much in a church is dangerous, and it can even turn out to be downright embarrassing. A preacher came up with a unique way of emphasizing the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Church. He placed the janitor in the balcony with a dove. The janitor was instructed to be ready to release the dove over the congregation at just the right moment in the worship service. The preacher said, “Now, when you hear me say that the Holy Spirit came down out of heaven like a dove, I want you to release the dove.” The following Sunday everything was ready, and the preacher reached the point in the sermon he had carefully planned. In his sermon he said, “And the Spirit of God came down like a dove.” Nothing happened. Raising his hand and calling out somewhat louder, the preacher declared, “And the Spirit came down like a dove.” Still, nothing happened. Finally, the preacher raised both hands and strained his voice to say once more, “And the Spirit came down like a dove.” Just then the janitor called out from the balcony, “Pastor, the cat ate the dove, do you want me to throw down the cat?”

It is impossible, however, for a church to attempt to do much when God is clearly leading the people toward a divine goal – a God-given vision. Nothing is impossible with God, and that means that the Lord can accomplish through us what He desires, if only we will yield to Him. I must admit that most churches aren't attempting to do too much, and many aren’t attempting to do much at all.

Today, I want you to note with me a congregation – a group of God’s people – who did so much that God had to stop them. The call went out to the people for an offering to be collected for the purpose of building a Tabernacle for the Lord. This required great resources from the people. After the request was made for gifts to be given, the results that followed were truly amazing. What we discover in our Bible text today is a congregation of God’s people who gave so much to a building project that the minister had to instruct them to discontinue the contributions for this cause. Now, that is something amazing, to be sure! Yet, it is true that when God’s people join in unity to carry out His divine purpose there will always be enough to complete the task. Sadly, many Christians do not participate in giving biblically, so the work falls on the shoulders of those who are willing to give faithfully.

I read a story some years ago that was printed in The Birmingham News. The story told of a man named Herman Ostery from Bruno, Nebraska, who needed to move his barn. It seemed that the only way to complete the relocation was to tear down the barn and reconstruct it in the new spot. He discussed the situation with his neighbors and they gave him an alternative idea. Using hydraulic jacks, they lifted the barn off the ground, then 328 of Herman’s neighbors and friends, lifted the barn and carried it 110 feet to place it in the new location. It was estimated that each person was carrying about 50 pounds each. The barn weighed over 16,000 pounds, but by working together the weight had been distributed equally so that each person only lifted a small amount.

God’s work is done in the same way. When each does what each can, the plan of God can be carried out properly, quickly and completely.

Now, let’s consider how we can work together to do God’s work, to give to God’s cause, and to reach the lost as the Lord commanded.

I. The People

Who is responsible to carry out God’s work on earth? Why, his people, of course. We are to do this work. We are to pray, serve, give, and labor for our Savior. No one else can or should do God’s work but God’s people.

I must admit to you that I don’t like to see a church  involved in washing cars, selling barbeque, having cake walks or doing other business-related efforts to raise money. In essence, when a church does that, they are asking the world to pay for God’s work. Image a church having a car wash to raise money for a youth camp. A lost man pulls up and asks the youth to wash his car. They do so, and he gives them $50.00, far more than the $10.00 or $15.00 they hope to get. They thank him profusely, and he leaves feeling that he has done the church a great favor. The fact is that the man who had that car washed earns $75,000.00 a year and gives not one dime to the church. He doesn’t tithe, doesn’t attend, and doesn’t even know Christ as Lord and Savior of His life. But, he goes away feeling like he has done God a great favor by giving money to the youth for washing his car. Listen to me, the church doesn’t need the world to pay our bills or do God’s work.

When the Lord leads us to do something, He will provide through His own born-again people to see that it is accomplished - if those people will only obey. We can do anything He asks us to do, if we are simply faithful to know His will and obedient to do anything required in order to accomplish it.

I was called to pastor a church some years ago that had for years raised money for youth camp by selling items, washing car, or using kids to rake leaves. I shared with them my conviction that this was unnecessary, and in fact might actually harm our outreach. They accepted my plea to depend upon members giving what was necessary to send out youth to camp. Of course I told them that a young person who wished to cut grass in the community or get a part time job to help pay his or her expense was appropriate, but it was wrong to set up the church as the organization raising money in the community. That year not only was enough money given for every young person to go to camp, but money was set aside to help with the trip for the next year. The church never wanted to go back to asking the world to pay God’s bills!

The saved people of God have the resources to do anything God asks us to do. We may not give it, but we have it. I remember the preacher who had a number of repairs that were essential to the welfare of the church building. The members groaned with they heard how much it was going to cost. The next Sunday the preacher stood before the church and told them that the church had all the money it needed for the repairs. The congregation broke out in applause at the news. Then the preacher said, “We have the money to do these repairs because it is in your pockets, or your bank accounts or in your savings!” I don’t remember exactly what happened to that preacher.

Seriously, we can do anything God wants us to do and you know that as well as I do. The need is for us to be willing to do so.

II. The Persuasion

What was the request that was made to the congregation in our text today? Exodus 25:2 states that the Lord said, “From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.” Willingly! That is the word I want you to hear. “From the heart,” is what it takes to be willing.

Listen, the persuasion to give to God’s work, whether a tithe or special offering, is all bound up in the heart of the Christian. If our hearts are right with God, we will be willing. In fact, it appears clearly that God was more concerned with the hearts of the people than he was with their handbags.

What exactly prompts us to have the proper heart to give to God’s work as we should? The Bible says that we are to give according to how God’s has prospered us. Now listen closely at this point. In 1 Corinthians 16:2 the Bible clearly states that we are to give, especially in free will offerings, according to how God has prospered us. Just how has God prospered you? When I ask that question, I have a problem. I can’t weigh the ways that God has blessed my life, prospered my frail efforts or has increased my soul. His salvation alone is richer than all the gold in all the vaults, all the banks, all the safes, and all the mines in the world. My giving must be because I realize what God has done for me – financially and otherwise!

In 2 Corinthians 9:7 Paul reminds us that God loves a cheerful giver. In other words, it does little good for me to give and to begrudge doing it. I must have a cheerful heart when I place the offering before the Lord.

I read of a country church years ago that had a building program. They voted on three rules for raising the money.

(1) Rule One was that everyone was to give something.

(2) Rule Two was that everyone was to give according to how God has prospered that person.

(3) Rule Three was that everyone was to give cheerfully.

One man gave a silver coin to the offering, but they gave it back to him because he was so rich that the offering coin he gave was not as he had been prospered.

Then the man got mad and gave a gold coin, but they gave it back to him because he was not cheerful in his giving and that violated rule three.

Finally, he repented and gave a great gift with joy, which they accepted it.

The willingness – love for God and His work – is the ultimate reason for giving. We believe in Him. We believe in His Church. We believe in His cause. We believe He owns everything. We believe that everything given to Him brings glory to Him and in turn blesses us. Therefore, we give with a willing heart.

III. The Proportion

We know that God’s tithe belongs to Him. The first 10% of all we receive is His already and to keep that back from Him is to rob God. But, here we are talking about offerings above the tithe. How do you decide what you will give to a request or cause of the Lord that is above the tithe?

In the story before us, some gave gold, others silver, others skins, and others gave labor. Each gave of what each had. Not everyone had gold. Not everyone had silver. So, we see here that we are give of that which we have. Every good gift comes down from the Father above, so we are to give of that which is in our possession.

Dr. Roy Laurin tells of a missionary who had a Christian businessman visiting with him in Korea. As the missionary showed the man around his place of missionary service, they saw a young man pulling a plow with an older man holding the handles of the plow. The Christian visitor said, “They must be very poor, for that boy to pull the plow for his father.” The missionary said, “Actually, they owned an ox until recently, and owning an ox in this area is only for those who are doing quite well. We were building a little mission church and we asked the members to give what they could. This man gave his ox and that means that he must now plow his field without an animal." The Christian businessman was moved to tears. He told the missionary, “When I get home, I’m going to double my giving to missions.”

Our proportion must be in line with our ability. We are to do and what we can do, while not looking to what others give to a cause. It all goes back to the heart of the giver!

IV. The Provision

Note that the text reveals God saying, “My offering…” We are not actually giving primarily to a cause, but rather we are giving to God. After all, that is where it all came from, isn’t it? It all belongs to Him.

You see, when the Hebrew people left Egypt, they were allowed to take with them the gold, silver and other possessions given to them by God through the Egyptian people. The gold and silver came from God’s miraculous provision. He provided what they were to give before they were to give it. It was His to begin with, but God allows us to participate with Him in His great work. We are workers together with God, as 2 Corinthians 6:1 tells us. It is interesting that God gives to us before the need arises. We must be careful with what comes into our hands from day to day, for it might just be that what God is giving is meant for His cause, and we must be careful in the spending and use of all money and possessions we have.


In the end, God allowed the people to have the “too much.” In other words, God doesn’t desire to take all from you. He could do that, if he wanted to, but God allows us to keep what we need – and often far more than we need to simply survive. The Lord is prompting us today to give to His work. Whether it is a mission cause, a building project, an evangelistic campaign, or some other divine task, He invites us to join Him in the work through giving.

Let me tell you something important – the first thing God desires from you is your heart! It begins with salvation. It continues with your service. So, let each of us search our hearts today and see if there is anything there that holds us back from doing His will, our best and all that is required to honor Him.