I knew a woman who appeared very generous. If she saw someone in need, she’d meet that need. A new raincoat, winter boots, work gloves, a necktie, money, a book: she’d give it away.
What people didn’t see was where she got the things she gave away. She stole them from her husband. Other things belonging to friends, she’d admire and ask to have for someone in need, then give it away. She never gave anything that belonged to her. She never gave anything that cost her.
King David had sinned, and needed to offer a sacrifice to God right then and there to stop His judgment. From where David stood on Ornan’s farm, he could see the Angel of the Lord ready to strike the city of Jerusalem. As king of Israel, David had the might to take anything he wanted – including Ornan’s land. Instead, David bought the land, saying, I will surely buy it for the full price, for I will not take what is yours for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings with that which costs me nothing (1 Chronicles 21:24).
God doesn’t consider it generous when you give what belongs to another.