Why do I give an offering?

siesta 2

The driving time was listed as 10 hours and 38 minutes.  It might seem like a long time being held captive in a vehicle traversing several states in all types of traffic.  I was headed to a private retreat alone for respite.  From the time I left until I arrived it gave me time to think, to ponder what God had in store for me when I arrived at my destination.  There were stretches of the journey that were longer than others – like the 324 mile stretch without stopping.  It is something I don’t mind doing however when travelling with my wife it is definitely something that is frowned upon.  She reminds that you need to stop about every two hours to stretch you legs and keep the circulation flowing.  Driving alone I never seem to never adhere to that advise.

What surprises me the most when driving is how certain thoughts and ideas transcend through your mind. Sometimes like a cascading water fall or the scenery flashing by you as you speed down the interstate until one thought slows down enough for you to ponder and explore. Thoughts like doing a long trip on my motorcycle and what it would be like to do it – especially if you hit inclement weather along the way.  Thoughts like how far could I travel in one day and what if I ended up in rush hour traffic?  The other options I pondered was about taking all the side roads – the less traveled road like in the days before the interstates.  How many of us remember Route 66 which traversed across the US from Chicago to Santa Monica California?

But one thought that traversed through my mind, one of those passing thoughts and preponderances that popped up was about the doxology that comes after the offering.  The one that we sing or say at time: Praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise Him all creatures here below, praise Him above ye heavenly host, praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  In the Rite I service we say, “All things come from thee O LORD, and of thine own have we given thee” (1 Chron. 29:14).

It caused me to ponder how much do I really understand these words and how much do others really understand what it really means.  In both the doxology and the bidding it recognizes where all things came from and who provided them.  That is not to say that we did not have earn what we have but it is to say that without God and what He provided through His creation we would have nothing and could earn nothing.  It drives us to basics of life that without God and His creation, His wisdom, His provision, His guidance, we would have nothing of our own.

This thought led me to think about our giving and what we give to God and give back to God.  Is it a token of obligation what we think He deserves or is it really a portion of what He has provided and giving thanks for His provision?  In other word is it a heartfelt offering in gratitude or is something that we are expected to do and think that by giving we will get something.  Is our offering out of our abundance and leftover and something we think we can afford to give?  Do we give because it is expected of us or we carry on the tradition our parents taught us when we did not fully know the reason behind our giving?  Do we give because it give us a personal self-sanctification? Each one of us must assess where our heart is in the matter of giving back to God what is His.  When we place limits on our giving we are conditionally giving to God what us in truth was created by Him and provided for us.

Throughout the Old and New Testaments, we find offerings of gratitude for God’s provision.  Even in the time of Jesus.  Did you know that Jesus’ parents came to the temple and made offerings to God (Luke 2:24)?  Mary and Joseph were not rich and gave not out of obligation but out of gratitude for what God had provided for them.  Then there is the account of the widow who put two copper coins in the offering which was an extraordinary amount for her while others gave out their excess abundance (Mark 12:42-44).

Another account illustrates what is more prevalent in today’s society.  It is the account of the rich man who came to Jesus and asked Jesus what he must do to have eternal life.  Jesus simply told him to go and sell all he had and he went away sad because he could not do it (Matt. 19:16-22).

Oswald Chambers in My Utmost of His Highest – in the August 18, devotional expresses it this way:

“Sell all that you have…” (Luke 18:22). In other words, rid yourself before God of everything that might be considered a possession until you are a mere conscious human being standing before Him, and then give God that. That is where the battle is truly fought— in the realm of your will before God.”

In today’s world, especially in western culture, it is about success, what I own, what I have, what successes define me, what good I have done for humanity and the world, and the merits I have accumulated and think I have earned.  When we look at it this way we convince ourselves we are okay and justify our actions by the standard we create.  However, it goes deeper than this. There are those who look at giving to receive something in return; Luke 6:38 38 give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” (NRS) Another way of expressing it might be – Okay God I have given now I am waiting for my return!

What God looks at is our heart and the ministry we do that is heart driven not out of obligation or compulsion. It is out of a heart of gratitude.  It is what we give not reluctantly or out of compulsion but a heart of thankfulness because God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). When we give unconditionally to Him and His church it enables us reach out those in need.  It enables us to do things in the church that will help others.  It supports our corporate worship and our individual worship.

Whether you drive long distances or spend quiet time in your daily life with God ponder the thoughts of giving and giving back to God.  When you do it will it enable you to open your lips and proclaim His praise saying… “Praise God from whom all blessing flow… All things come from thee O LORD, and of thine own have we given thee” (1 Chron. 29:14).