“And they came, both men and women, as many as were “Willing-Hearted,” and brought bracelets, and earrings, and rings and tablets, all jewels of gold; and offered an offering of gold unto the Lord.”
Exodus 35: 22
King James Version
“That’s what I consider true generosity. You give your all and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing.”
Simone de Beauvoir
What does the word “willing” mean to me when it relates to giving myself?
How do I define the word, “generosity”?
“The world says, ‘The more you take, the more you have.’ Christ says, ‘The more you give, the more you are.’”
“God is a generous giver, but we can only see and enjoy God’s generosity when we love God with all of our hearts, minds and strength. As long as we say: ‛I will love you, God, but first show me your generosity,’ we will remain distant from God and unable to experience what God truly wants to give us, which is life and life in advance.”
Henri J. M. Nouwen
I just love the story in Exodus about the building of the tabernacle.
Our text today, taken from Exodus 35, describes how the people were invited to share their blessings by bringing gifts to God for His work. In Exodus 35: 22, the generous men and women are defined as “willing-hearted.” In the Hebrew translation, the word “willing” is defined specifically as generosity that is voluntary. It is not coerced giving. It is not giving that is the result of great begging. Nor is it giving that gets something in return.
This willingness is noble and free. Nobody has to try and pull the money out of your closed-hands. Instead, this is open-handed giving.
But there’s more we can learn from the phrase “Willing-Hearted.” The specific word in Hebrew used for heart in this verse means, in a widely used connotation, “feeling.” However, it also is the form of the word that involves the “will” and even the “intellect.”
This means we can now read the phrase “Willing-Hearted Women,” this way: Women who showed that their intellect, feelings and will were motivated by voluntary, liberal generosity. No one even had to ask these women to give. No one had to get on TV and promise them some gift to get them to give.
However, there’s even a more important element we must not overlook. “Willing-Hearted Women” are generous, not because God has promised to do something for them, but because they want to do something for Him. And believe me, there’s a big difference. Author Marya Mannes wrote, “Generosity with strings is not generosity: it is a deal.”
In the story in Exodus 35, you don’t hear people saying, “Well, after God blesses me, I’ll give.” Nor do you hear them say, “I’ll see what God does for me, then I’ll give.”
Instead, their generosity, like an artesian spring, pumps unlimited giving from hearts and minds that have their foundation in unlimited liberality. To the point that in Exodus 36: 6, 7(K.J.V.) we find this most unbelievable statement: “And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, ‘Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing. For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much.”
This is one of the most impressive examples of generous giving I’ve ever heard about. So much was given that Moses told everyone, “It’s too much! Take your gifts home and don’t bring anymore for this project.”
Why did this happen? First, as we studied yesterday, the women and men, too, were Worship-Hearted. God was first. Today we find that once we give God control of our will, we become “Willing-Hearted” for Him.
An unknown writer describes generosity exemplified by a “Willing-Hearted” person:
“Givers can be divided into three types; the flint, the sponge and the honeycomb. Some givers are like a piece of flint – to get anything out of it you must hammer it, and even then you only get chips and sparks. Others are like a sponge – to get anything out of a sponge, you must squeeze it and squeeze it hard, because the more you squeeze a sponge, the more you get. But others are like a honeycomb – which just overflows with its own sweetness. That is how God gives to us, and it is how we should give in turn.”
Exodus 35: 29 describes the sweet incense that is lifted to heaven from the life of a “Willing-Hearted Woman,” “The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the Lord, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work….”
Isn’t it beautiful how there’s always enough when “Willing-Hearted Women” choose to follow God.”
“What I kept, I lost;
What I spent, I had;
What I gave, I have.”
“Grant me grace, Lord, to be strong and wise in all things. Give me a generous love. Fill me with the spirit of intelligence and wisdom. Let me always be mindful of others. O perfect and eternal Light, enlighten me.”
Alcuin of York
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus