When preparing my sermon series for the upcoming year, much prayer and thought goes into what topics will be covered. Some are easy to preach on, others are not. Certain topics are easy to avoid because they will most assuredly sprout controversy. Topics like abortion or homosexuality or even what the Bible has to say about divorce can present enough division that people who are offended end up leaving the church. It’s for this reason that many of these very important discussions get pushed aside. It’s not right, but it happens.
The topics stated above are certainly hot buttons, but they are not the only one’s many preachers (including myself) avoid. Believe it or not, many have a tough time bringing up offerings. Though they are essential to the life of the church, it’s hard for many to ask for something that will end up benefitting them financially as well.
Yet, offerings have always been a part of God’s plan for His church. There were five different sacrificial offerings required of God’s people to atone for their sins and the sins of all humanity. These offerings included the burnt offering, the grain offering, the peace offering, the purification offering and the reparation offering. Each had their purpose. Of course, the offering to end all sacrificial offerings happened when God’s own Son became the perfect sacrifice for our sins.
When Jesus offered up His own life for our sake, He modeled how we, His sheep, should lead our own lives. C.S. Lewis said, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next.” This is true because their efforts were done with others in mind. They were done to benefit all of society, present and future, and not just a chosen few.
Our offerings are not to be seen as a legalistic approach at Christianity. God reminded us through Paul in 2 Corinthians 9:7 that, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Our offerings, as with all other things we give, should come out of the love we have for God and the urgency we feel in our hearts to continue what He has started, not reluctantly or out of a sense of duty.
Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put onto your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38).
Not only does God love a cheerful giver but He rewards those who make unselfish offerings in His name. Does that mean the more we give the more we get? Certainly not in human terms. The rewards God is offering are much greater than the world could give.
In Proverbs 3:9-10 it says, “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.” When reading this its easy to think in worldly terms, but the barns filled with plenty and the vats bursting with wine paint a much greater picture of heaven. God is asking us to focus on the wealth we will realize as believers, not on the wealth of this world.
Therefore, our offerings are to be given with the right motivations. We give our offferings so that the world may know what we have come to know, so that, one day, they might receive the same rewards. We give our offerings as a sign that we trust the Lord’s plan for us and for His church. We sacrifice because we understand our fallenness and want God to see our repentant hearts.
Our offerings are to be done from a place of willingness, not as a means to an end. Jesus tells the story in Mark 12 of rich people putting in large sums of money in the offering boxes out of their abundance followed by the widow who gave little, yet it was all she had. He said, it was the widow who gave the greater amount. It was greater because of how it was given, with a willing and trustful heart towards her God.
May our offerings come from such a holy place and may they be from our firstfruits and not from our leftovers. Offer God not just your treasures but your time and talent as well. Together we can make a kingdom difference not only in our present world but in the next. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, thank you for your patience as we prove once again to fall short of Your expectations. Lead us to live our lives with generous hearts and may our offerings always glorify You in every way. Amen.