By Fylvia Fowler Kline, Assistant Director, General Conference Stewardship

Summary: A comparison of the ostentatious, exaggerated giving methods of Jesus’ days to those of today.

In the days of Jesus, in the dry and parched lands of the east there was no city water--no reservoirs, no water tanks. When the community wells ran dry, the poor hoped that some magnanimous rich man would come into town with his personal valet. Here’s how it usually happened: A rich man, purely for the purpose of doing a good act and bringing a blessing upon his family, would walk into the market place of a town that was running low on water. Beside him would be his valet, carrying an extra large leather water pouch. Then the rich man would say in his deepest, most theatrical voice, Give the poor and the thirsty a drink of my water! And the valet would call out, Come drink the offering of my Master. Come quench your thirst. Soon the poor would line the dusty street, waiting for their turn to drink the offering. As each man stepped up to take a drink he would pay homage to the rich man who stood continually bellowing, Bless me, who gave you this drink. It was this kind of giving that Jesus deplored and condemned (Matt 6:2-4).

Now we don’t bellow out the amount in our tithe and offering envelope as we drop it into the offering plate. Yet our actions associated with giving often scream of prestige, recognition, and self-glory. What is the spirit of our giving? What should our giving reflect? Maxson’s Fresh Look at Giving helps us focus on the principles of the best kind of giving.

The rich man gave to guarantee a blessing. He gave for personal security. What should motivate our giving? The sermons in this issue suggest that implicit trust in God, putting others before ourselves, and letting Jesus be in control are elements that ought to motivate giving.

We need to return to the Eden model of stewardship (see Mills’ lead article). We must give, not in competition with one another, but in a spirit of worship. We must give, not to be benefactors, but to be partners with God. We must give, not to be praised, but to be humbled in the presence of an awesome God.

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October–December, 1999

Offering