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.
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.”
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.