Perspective

The Worship of Offerings

Thank God for His gift of offerings. Offerings bring worshipers into closer communion with God. Sometimes, as God’s

privileged children, we forget the most basic thing about our heavenly Father.

Psalm 96:8, a word about worship, is calculated to save us from such

forgetfulness. In the words of the New Living Translation, we are to “Give to

the Lord the glory he deserves! Bring your offering and come into his courts.”

To judge by this invitation, the psalmist knows 1) that God is great; 2) that

he deserves acknowledgment for his greatness; 3) that he wants us to

participate in the worship through or of giving offerings; and 4) that we are

welcome in his house.



God’s invitation to us to join Him in worship highlights at least two amazing facts about the mighty personage who is the powerful sustainer of the entire universe

Though each one of

these truths deserves major focus, the present reflection mostly dwells on the

third, that of our welcome participation in the worship of offerings. God’s

invitation to us to join Him in worship highlights at least two amazing facts

about the mighty personage who is the powerful sustainer of the entire universe:





Communion with God

First of all, by

inviting us to join him he makes it clear that he cares about our company. God

does not look upon, or think of us, as some major or minor irritation he must

put up with. He does not think of our gifts as a tax to be delivered by FedEx

or UPS. Instead he thinks of our gifts as a good occasion for us to share

communion with Him. Communion is precisely what God has always cared about with

regards to us, beginning in Eden where, as evening drew on, he would come by to

stroll with his first human son and daughter (see Genesis 3:8, 9).

We are incapable of

imagining the heartbrokenness he felt on that first tragic afternoon when he

could no longer contentedly walk and talk with the two whom he had made like

him so that he could enjoy their company, and they could enjoy his. It is no

wonder that at the climax of God’s restoration program excitement breaks out in

heaven, and John hears someone shouting out the words: “Look, God’s home is now

among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God

himself will be with them." (Revelation 21:3)



That voice must be

the voice of a creature who knows the heart of his God, who understands how

much He has always longed to keep our company and have us as His, and who has

seen all that He was willing to go through to make it possible again. Psalm

96:8 makes it clear that this being together is intricately linked to the act

of worship we call “offerings.” Thank God for His gift of offerings.



God Cares

Teacher,” the brothers begged, “When you sit on your glorious throne, we want to sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”

Mark 10:35-37, NLT

Besides caring

about our company, offerings say that God cares about our contribution. Often

enough, because he has so much, because the earth and its fullness belong to

him (see Psalm 24:1), we may be inclined, out of humility, to think we have

nothing of consequence to give. Instead, like Jesus’ favorite friends, James

and John, we may think the best thing that could happen to us would be for us

to rank next to the Lord of all the earth, in some position of power. We can

reason quite impressively, that this allows God to show, through us his feeble

creatures, what his greatness can do for us: “Teacher,” the brothers begged,

“When you sit on your glorious throne, we want to sit in places of honor next

to you, one on your right and the other on your left.” (Mark 10:35-37, NLT).



No doubt we are

acquainted with the rest of the story, indeed, the first part of the story. We

can also see that Jesus’ words in that first part (Mark 10:32-34) are

completely disconnected from these youths’ request in verses 35-37. So set were

they in their ways of thinking that, even when Jesus himself spoke, they still

could not hear.



For what Jesus had

been speaking of was the opposite of what they had been dreaming. Jesus had

been talking of giving up everything, of the ultimate sacrifice, while all they

could think of was ultimate grandeur. Jesus had been speaking of ultimate

humiliation, while all they could think of was ultimate exaltation. Maybe our

own “humble” attitude to offerings is too related to James and John and not

enough to Jesus.



James and John kept

thinking of Jesus’ way as a way of enthronement and self-enrichment. But Jesus’

way is truly the way of surrender and self-impoverishment. The intriguing thing

about this, though, is that when we come to the place of total

self-forgetfulness in service to, and for the salvation of the rest, we have

come to the place where we show that God has truly taken over our minds and our

living. So long as we continue in the vein of competition and striving for the

higher place, the greater power, the wider fame, the grander portfolio, we are

not yet at the place where we can really enjoy the greatest thrill of offering

giving.



Sharing Our Everything

The unparalleled

illustration for this second point is, of course, the narrative of the widow

who gives two-mites (Mark 12:40-44). Not only because, as Jesus says, she gives

all her life (v. 44), but specifically, because everybody else at the treasury

is giving in considerably greater quantities than she. It gives Jesus the

chance to make His point, because, as Mark records, he is looking at “how the

people cast money into the treasury (v. 41).”



God’s eyes do not see that which fills ours. God’s eyes can see what is invisible to us. That poor woman gave her everything to Him. And it mattered supremely to him. He could see that for her, He was everything that mattered.

God’s eyes do not

see that which fills ours. God’s eyes can see what is invisible to us. That

poor woman gave her everything to Him. And it mattered supremely to him. He

could see that for her, He was everything that mattered. And for that, she

would give everything that she had. God so loved that He gave His son (John

3:16) who gave himself (1 Timothy 2:6), no holds barred, nothing held back.



When I give to my

God, as that widow did, in the spirit of total gratitude, in the same spirit of

absolute surrender in which He gives His all for me, then, between us there is

absolute bonding, nothing between. Then there is total communion. The greatest

thing about God, (John calls it love in 1 John 4:8), is His commitment to

sharing.



So that when we,

like Him, and like the heroine widow, are willing to share our everything, no

matter how inconsequential it seems in the eyes of men, then God has

accomplished in us what he always meant to and longed to. For then we reflect

in our attitude, thinking, and conduct, the mind and spirit of the Lord of the

universe, the God of sharing.



Thank God for His

gift of offerings.

Lael Caesar,

Ph.D.

Associate Editor, Adventist Review, Adventist World magazines;

Research Professor of Hebrew Bible, Andrews University

Lael holds a Ph.D. in

Hebrew and Semitic Studies from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and

served for 15 years as professor of Religion and Biblical Languages at Andrews

University, Berrien Springs, Michigan. He has taught on many college and

university campuses including Montemorelos University in Mexico and Andrews

University. His wife, Dr. Lena Caesar, former chair of the department of Speech

Language Pathology and Audiology at Andrews University, is now a professor of

the same discipline at Loyola University in Baltimore.

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