1 Chronicles 28:9, 10 “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever. Consider now, for the LORD has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be courageous and act.”
It was not for David to build God’s Temple. God gave that privilege to David’s son, Solomon. But Solomon was young and like a good father, David wanted to give his son advice on the most important matters of building a Temple to God. Interestingly enough, it had nothing to do with design or construction, but Solomon’s heart.
What does this have to do with 21st century Christians? More than you might think, because although this will have little to do with the building of a physical building, we are supposed to be building up the spiritual temple of the Lord, the church. And the things that David emphasizes here are exactly the things that build up the Lord’s church.
Know the Lord
This advice is not about being able to identify God (although that’s where it starts). It’s about really knowing Him: who He is (in all of His awesome, eternal majesty and power), what He likes, what He hates, what He expects us to do, what He can be expected to do, what His history is, where He’s taking history, what He promises, and how faithful He is to His promises. Knowing the Lord is about being faithful to Him alone, despite the multiple idols that compete for our time and attention (money, influence, being well-liked, fun, pleasure, being cool, etc.). And it is a knowledge that develops a relationship with Him. Such knowledge both motivates and guides us to humbly follow and serve Him and Him alone—not culture, not what’s cool, not philosophy, not tradition, nor my personal tastes. Otherwise, we build “churches” for our tastes, for the latest moral standard, for the spirit of our age rather than by the Lord’s command (Matt. 16:15,16), according God’s unchangeable pattern (e.g., 1 Cor. 7:17), and by the Spirit of Truth (John 16:13). To correctly and effectively build the Lord’s church and receive His blessing, we must first know the Lord
Serve Him with a whole heart
The Lord deserves a whole heart, not a divided one. What is a divided heart? One that is distracted, one that is torn with other loyalties, one that is struggling with being “all in”, one that serves out of love and joy rather than compulsion, and one that has other “masters”. The young Solomon was going to be king and that would mean a million distractions, competing priorities, and options. The Israelites who returned from captivity to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and the Temple found just how easy the divided heart can form in the book of Haggai (1:4, 5) “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house [the Temple] lies desolate? Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Consider your ways!’” Do you have a divided heart and mind about the Lord’s work, the Lord’s church, the imperative of sharing the Gospel? Fun, work, pleasure, personal fears, hobbies, and general busyness are common competitors to the heart being wholly devoted to the Lord’s business. The Lord’s church grows spiritually and numerically, when we all take the advice of serving the Lord with a whole heart. Half-hearted, lukewarm efforts will not do; the work is too high and holy to be given a common priority in our calendars, in our lives, in our efforts, or in our hearts.
Be courageous and act
This last piece of advice from David to young Solomon is not really advice is it? Rather, it commands—get with it! go! get off the dime! Why? One of the greatest challenges of good works is getting out of the idea phase, out of the we-ought-to-do-that phase, and out of the planning phase to the action phase. However, to get to the action phase will often demand being courageous, and that’s why David mentions it first. Building something a great as the Temple (or in our case, the church) would take stepping out on faith, building things that had never been built in Israel, and devoting enormous time and resources to the project. Courage isn’t the lack of fear, it is doing the fearful anyway, despite the fear, because you know you should.
Until things get to the “be courageous and act” stage it bears no fruit, it accomplished no good, and it leaves the world unchanged and lost. While ideas and planning are all important and even crucial to successful good world (especially the complex ones), we must not settle for the false good feelings of planning something good; we must “be courageous and act”.
Will you take David’s advice and help build the Lord’s church?