I was reading Exodus 35 this morning. This is the second time Moses comes down from Mount Sinai and asks the people to bring the items needed for the construction of the Tabernacle. Exodus 35:21 says, “And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and brought the Lord’s offering,...” (Pentateuch and Haftorah, Soncino Press, 1965.)
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When I read this it struck me that this isn’t saying everyone came, but only every one of them that was willing to give what they had. This means that there were, at least, some who did not contribute, even though they might have had some of the items needed.
Let’s consider that their gifts, which were articles of gold, silver, wood, yarn, etc., were what they had to offer, but today the gifts we can offer are our knowledge, discernment, spiritual understanding, and compassion. When I read the posts in all the different “Christian” or “Messianic” discussion groups I am a member of through Facebook, there are posts about the calendar, about the pronunciation of God’s name, about the Christian holidays (especially now with Christmas right around the corner), and other topics. These are the gifts they are offering, which should be given in order to please and bring glory to God.
Some argue with validation from the Bible, others are just making it up as they go along; some misuse the Bible by taking verses out of context to justify what they want to say, and others repeat what they have heard without any personal research or study- they agree just because they like what they hear.
In all of this, there is some truth, there are some lies, and I believe there are many tares planted by the Enemy meant to cause division and strife within the body of Believers.
Much too often people argue for their own glory.
There were the Israelites in the desert who did not bring their gifts for the Tabernacle, there are people today who post topics offering their gifts of understanding the Bible, which many times aren’t directly related to salvation (although they will swear they are), and there are gifts that people offer, specifically discernment and spiritual maturity, which help to strengthen the faith of others and lead us to a better understanding of what God wants from us.
Suddenly, it occurred to me that there is a common thread in all this: I have my gift (of understanding) from God I offer in this ministry and you have your gift (of understanding) from God you offer in a discussion group, and others have gifts that they never offer. Your gift is your gift, my gift is my gift, and we don’t have to share the same gifts. Likewise, we don’t have to share the same understanding, and no one has the right to force anyone else to accept their offering.
If someone believes that they know how something is to be done, pronounced, when celebrated, or whatever and they share that knowledge, it is only reasonable to expect that they are certain they are correct. But when someone else disagrees, or they just don’t agree, that person should remember their gift of understanding should be offered for God’s glory. When they share that knowledge and someone else rejects it, they shouldn’t continue to try to convince the other person. Once they have been told, “I don’t accept that”, then they are done. When God told the Prophets to warn the people, he didn’t say berate them or ram it down their throats, he simply said to tell them what God told the Prophet. If the Prophet told the people, and they rejected what he said, then the Prophet had done his job and God said that was all he was supposed to do.
Tell people what you believe God has shown you, but don’t continue to “sell” it once someone disagrees or rejects what you say. For all you know, you might be wrong. We are, after all, human and none of us can be absolutely certain that our own iniquity and pridefulness doesn’t influence our understanding. If you can’t accept someone else rejecting what you know, then you have gone beyond what God wants from you. Once you tell someone what God has made clear to you, it is up to them to accept or reject.
If you cannot stop trying to convince someone that you are correct, then you are no longer working for the glory of God- you are only after your own glory, and the prideful desire to have someone tell you that you are right. In other words, if someone won’t agree with you and you are arguing your point over and over, you are no longer doing God’s work but you are helping Satan.
That’s a hard word to hear, but can you tell me that causing strife and dissension within Believers isn’t helpful to the Enemy of God’s people?
In the desert, those whose hearts were not stirred to bring an offering to God are like the people today who cannot stop trying to get someone to agree with them: what they have in common is that they are not doing something for the Lord, but only for themselves.
When you share your gift of knowledge or spiritual understanding with others, and they don’t agree, it is OK to ask them why. Maybe they have been misled or taught something different, or maybe they have a better understanding than you do! It is a good thing to ask them why they disagree. If they are willing to discuss the topic and you are both respectful and enjoying the debate, then go ahead and discuss it. However, if one of you becomes agitated and begins to judge the other, or either of you become nasty and are no longer really arguing the point but attacking each others’ knowledge or spirituality, then you have crossed the line.
And I hope you agree with me when I say that the one who stops the discussion is the one who has the spiritual and emotional maturity to realize they are no longer glorifying God.
Yeshua sent his Talmudim to preach the Good News about the Kingdom of God and told them to be as wise as serpents and gentle as doves. If you find yourself in a discussion that doesn’t demonstrate wisdom with gentility, then that isn’t what Yeshua wants and you aren’t glorifying God. The thing you should do then is to shake the dust from your sandals and leave.
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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!