The Bible says that God wants us to give cheerfully and generously following his own example. Church offering is important to each believer as its an avenue God multiplies his Blessing on us.
God gives to everyone “generously without despising anyone” as James 1:5 says. He “makes the sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). Therefore, we should give our offerings to God as a token of gratitude for all that he gives us. We should also give to others by following God’s example.
Each one must give according to what he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or out of obligation, because God loves the one who gives with joy. And God can make all grace abound to you, so that always, in all circumstances, you have everything you need, and every good deed abounds in you.
(2 Corinthians 9:7-8)
4 Purpose of offerings
We can say that the offerings have at least 4 purposes:
1. Show our faith and trust in God and his provision
The offering is an act of acknowledgement before God that everything we have belongs to him. We are not the owners. God is the owner and we manage what he provides us. When we give, we do so with the confidence that he is faithful and he will continue to provide for all of our needs.
Do not think: “This wealth is the result of my power and the strength of my hands.” Remember the Lord your God, because it is he who gives you the power to produce that wealth.
He who supplies seed to the sower will also supply bread for you to eat, increase your crops and cause you to produce a bountiful harvest of righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and so that through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
(2 Corinthians 9:10-11)
2. Support Christian workers and people in ministry
Luke 8:1-3 speaks of some women who contributed to the support of Jesus and the disciples. They gave of what they had to help them fulfil their ministry. In Philippians 4:10-20 we also read about the church at Philippi and other churches that supported Paul in his ministry.
These two examples help us understand how offerings contribute to the support of people who feel called to take the Word of God to others. We can make a difference by supporting others with our offerings.
I have already received everything I need and even more; I even have plenty now that I have received from Epaphroditus what they sent me. It is a fragrant offering, a sacrifice that God gladly accepts. So my God will provide you with everything you need, according to the glorious riches that he has in Christ Jesus.
Elders who manage the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those who devote their efforts to preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says: “Do not muzzle the ox while it is threshing,” and “The laborer deserves to be paid his wages.”
(1 Timothy 5:17-18)
3. Help the poor and needy
To the best of its ability, the church should serve the needs not only of its members but also of others in the community. Just as the early church did, it is important to help members of the Christian family with the provision of their basic needs.
The church should be an example of generosity by caring for its members and blessing the community in which it is located.
For now, I am going to Jerusalem to bring help to the brothers, since Macedonia and Achaia have seen fit to make a collection for the poor brothers in Jerusalem. They did it willingly, although in reality it was their obligation to do so. Because, if the Gentiles have participated in the spiritual blessings of the Jews, they are indebted to them to serve them with the material blessings.
All believers were of one mind and mind. No one considered any of his possessions theirs, but they shared them. The apostles, in turn, with great power continued to bear witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. The grace of God poured out abundantly on all of them, since there was no one in need in the community.
Help each other to bear your burdens, and thus you will fulfill the law of Christ.
4. God is pleased when we are generous.
Giving also shows our desire to please God. He calls us to be generous and is happy when we live with a giving heart using the resources he provides us to bless others. By focusing on the needs of others we can see more clearly God’s provision in our lives and we grow in gratitude toward God.
Do not forget to do good and to share what you have with others, because those are the sacrifices that please God.
Give, and it will be given to you: a full measure, pressed down, shaken, and running over, will be poured into your lap. Because with the measure that you measure to others, it will be measured to you.
The offering that pleases God
More than the offering itself, God is interested in the attitude with which we offer. He wants us to give in obedience to him, according to what he has said and to do so willingly and cheerfully. We find a good example in David and the people of Israel. They brought copious freewill offerings for the building of the temple. They recognized the lordship of God and that knowledge filled them with joy.
The people were very happy that they could voluntarily give their offerings to the Lord, and King David was also very happy.
(1 Chronicles 29:9)
But who am I, and who are my people, that we can give you these freewill offerings? In truth, you are the owner of everything, and what we have given you, we have received from you.
(1 Chronicles 29:14)
The offering that God rejects
God makes it clear that he does not like offerings that are given by tradition or custom and that are not accompanied by an obedient and merciful heart filled with the desire to glorify him. In Isaiah 1:10-17 God says that he is fed up with those offerings. He averts his eyes from the offerings that flow from lives that are not consecrated to him.
In Malachi 1:9-14 we also see that God rejects offerings that do not flow from deep and sincere worship. God neither accepts leftovers nor settles for anything. We must give God the best and the first, always recognizing his greatness, his power and our need for him.
Do not keep bringing me vain offerings; frankincense is an abomination to me.
New moon, Sabbath, assemblies called; I can’t bear to be offended by their adoration!
Wash yourself clean! Get his wicked deeds out of my sight!
Stop doing evil! Learn to do good!
Seek justice and rebuke the oppressor! Advocate for the orphan and defend the widow!
Offerings in the New Testament
What does the New Testament say about offerings? Some of the mentions made are the following.
- Matthew 5:23-24: Obedience to God is important. He calls us to make an effort to be at peace with others before giving.
- Luke 21:1-4: Jesus highlighted the offering of a widow who put in all she had while others offered leftovers.
- Acts 20:35: Giving is a joy and a privilege, especially when we help those in need.
- Acts 2:44-45: The early church was noted for its unity and how they shared their assets to meet the needs of all.
- Romans 12:1: The offering is not just something economic. Our lives and our bodies must be offerings to the Lord, living in holiness and obedience.
- 2 Corinthians 9:6-7: We are to give (or sow) abundantly and cheerfully.
- Ephesians 5:2: Christ, the best example of offering and sacrifice pleasing before God.
- Hebrews 13:15: It is a praise offering to God when we confess the name of Jesus with our lips.
- Hebrews 9:11-14: Christ, the perfect offering, the perfect sacrifice through which we were reconciled to God.
- Hebrews 10:12-14: The sacrifice of Christ sanctified us, cleansed us from our sins.
- 1 Peter 2:5: As we draw near to Christ we become a holy priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Offerings mentioned in the Old Testament
Various types of offerings or sacrifices are mentioned in the Old Testament.
- Exodus 25:1-7: freewill offerings for the tabernacle.
- Exodus 12:21-27: the Passover lamb, the Passover sacrifice of the LORD.
- Leviticus 1:1-17; Leviticus 6:8-13: offering of propitiation, the burnt offering to God. It was a freewill offering.
- Leviticus 2:1-16: the grain offering. It was a freewill offering.
- Leviticus 3:1-17 and 7:1-11: the peace offering or the communion offering. It was a freewill offering.
- Leviticus 4:1-35 and 5:1-19: the atoning offering for sin. It was a compulsory offering.
- Leviticus 6:1-7: the guilt offering or atoning offering for various sins. It was a compulsory offering.
- Ezra 3:4-5: other types of offerings for solemn festivals.
- Amos 4:5: leavened bread as a voluntary thank offering.
Who was to bring the offerings to the Lord? All of the people of Israel had to bring an offering before the Lord, as God had blessed them.
Each one shall bring offerings, as the Lord your God has blessed.