2 Chronicles 31:4 He ordered the people living in Jerusalem to give the portion due the priests and Levites so they could devote themselves to the Law of the Lord.
King Hezekiah recognized that the priests and Levites needed their physical needs met, or they wouldn’t be very focused on the activities prescribed for them in the Torah. There are countries today, such as Germany, where clergy receive a salary from the government. That money obviously comes from the people through taxation, but that is very different from what happened here. In governmental systems overhead is often huge, because bureaucracies always tend toward bloat. Also, when something is a tax, it instantly ceases to be an offering. Hezekiah did order the people to give, but the following verses indicate that they gave willingly and in abundance, and I think a major part of that was that they were giving directly to the priests and Levites. There was no IRS to demand compliance! I think the same principle applies to charity and social welfare. America and many other countries have huge social welfare systems, that at least in America breed dependency on the government, which is what many politicians want. Human systems are often very different from divine order, and we suffer for them. It ultimately comes down to what Jesus said: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33) When Hezekiah’s main concern was the Law of the Lord, everything fell into place.
This applies to me very directly, because I’ve been a self-supporting independent missionary for 40 years. In all that time I’ve never received as much from the church as I’ve given to it in offerings, and I’ve not had any mission board or other external support. There have been times when money seemed tight, but God has met our needs beautifully. That said, there have also been times when I was much more focused on my activities for which I was paid than on the work of ministry in the church. I won’t soon forget the spiritual emptiness that produces! I seek to teach this congregation about tithing and stewardship in general, but the numbers are small and over the years we’ve had very few who could have been called wealthy. I’m not to deprive the people of the joy of giving, but I certainly don’t want them to feel that I’m “after their money.” It can get complicated at times! All of us need to follow Jesus’ instructions and keep our focus on God’s kingdom and His righteousness. If we will do that, we will have the joy of participating in what He is doing, as part of His infinite supply, for His glory.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for how You have been so beautifully faithful over the years. I’ve had to learn some hard lessons in the process, but that was for my good. Help me indeed focus on the part You have for me to play in Your kingdom, operating in Your righteousness, and leave everything else up to You, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!