But the king said to Araunah, "No, but I will buy them from you for a price; I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing." So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. II Samuel 24:24 NRSV
I remember hearing of a family who wanted to give our then current church some property on which to build a new sanctuary. The church decided to decline the offer, and the land ended up being given to another church. I think our church made the correct decision for a variety of reasons. But the biggest has to be entitlement. Wouldn't the giver always expect something more from the church because of the size of the gift? Would we want our place of worship to be beholden to an individual rather than to God?
King David negotiates for land for a worship center as one of his last acts. The owner wishes to simply give the land to the King. But David says, "No!" I think if the land had been accepted without payment, the original owner would have always had influence over the worship. The worship needed to be about God, not land ownership. There was a price for worshipping God and it was given joyfully and gladly.
In our economic climate, many churches are probably tempted to take advantage of all kinds of free offers. But we cannot let the giver have power over God. Worship of God does come with a price.
God, you want us to freely come before you. But when we do, we must take into consideration that we must pay the fair trade amount for all the elements of worship. Help us to be beholden only to You. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims