God loves a Cheerful giver
It’s offering time!!!
Many have been turned off or avoid the church because of methods employed for giving and offerings. Yes?
Sometime last year I took part in a focus study group for my pastor as he was completing his doctoral project on GIVING. We were given a handbook and a diary to write our reflections, thoughts, and feelings after every session. Like everyone else, the sacrifice of time was worth it to show support and love. As a Christian, the topic of giving is not unfamiliar, so I was expecting more information as a refresher. Boy, was I in for a surprise!
The first two sessions covered rudimentary information; Old Testament faithfuls like Abraham and Jacob, tithes, agrarian vs monetary systems etc. But I believe it was the third session that caused a massive struggle. We learned that Tithing was NOT required. Huh? What do you mean? I’ve always known about the 10% that I was supposed to give, and within the past few years had gotten to the point of giving that consistently, so what was this all about?
I looked at the scriptures in my handbook Leviticus 27:30-33, Deuteronomy 14:22-29 and Malachi through different eyes. I felt a little flustered as I read because it is very nerve wrecking when something that one believes as foundational is challenged.
Leviticus 27 talked about being able to redeem one’s tithes if the giver so chose. In Deuteronomy the giver was to have a celebration with the tithe as thanksgiving to God. And also to take care of the Levites since they had no land (they served in the temple). In Malachi? Well, the key here is not “Will a man rob God?”…..but “How shall we return?” (v.7). God was done with the Priests and was not going to accept any offerings from their hands; they were bringing Him lame and sick animals etc. The priests were not upholding the laws of what was to be sacrificed to God. We no longer sacrifice animals….Jesus was our sacrificial lamb.
At this point I was thinking of every place in the bible that I could find something about tithing; Abraham and Jacob! Well, I looked at that and obviously they both chose to give a tithe before there was any law. Abraham in Genesis 14:20 and Jacob in Genesis 28:22. They both did it out of love for God and his faithfulness. I couldn’t find anything that substantiated mandatory tithing in the New Testament. There is nothing to redeem….Jesus already DID that!!
I went home grappling with what this meant. I did some more research and realized that this information is out there but I have NEVER heard anyone speak on this. Understandably so, because there is a fear that if people know they don’t HAVE to give, then they wouldn’t!
I sat on my little foot stool in my closet and thought to myself “Man, if I don’t HAVE to give I can save a lot of money!”. As soon as the thought left my mind God asked “Were you giving because you LOVE ME, or just because you thought you were obligated to?”
I sat there for a long time digesting this.
Obligation never equals love. Love is doing it when I have a clear choice not to.
My heart changed in that moment. God has been so good to me! And especially faithful.
I have the opportunity to appreciate God just as Abraham and Jacob did when they decided what they would give without a legal standard.
I thanked God for the opportunity to check myself. It’s easy to SAY we love and trust God until we are faced with putting it to the test. I couldn’t imagine the courage, trust in and love for God that my Pastor had to work through to first embrace this information and then share it. He risked people stopping their giving, because they didn’t HAVE to. But, giving is a form of worship and must be as natural as singing, reading scripture and prayer. There is a basket at the door and you can drop an offering of your choosing (if you so choose), on the way in or on the way out.
Ten percent is merely a barometer. Some choose that as their minimum offering to God, but it can be more or less. Plus whatever the Holy Spirit prompts.
There is SO much to say in this post, but it is better summed up in the book Cheerfully. A book prompted by this study after more research and a compilation of the findings.
Our pastor graduated as scheduled but completed the doctoral process a changed man.
We each completed the study, experiencing a myriad of emotions with this new knowledge. Some anger, some acceptance, some struggling with sharing this information to their own congregations.
The TRUTH is what it is: God loves a cheerful giver! Giving to God based on love is Worship. A cheerful giver is motivated from within not based on any external stimulation.
SO, that thing about GIVING…? Make sure you do it CHEERFULLY!!! 🙂
Have a great week!