In my last article, I mentioned the fact that my church went from merely providing an offering box to now passing the plate as part of the order of worship. I gave two justifications for why we do this: giving is commanded and giving is an act of worship. In this article, I have three more justifications I’d like to offer for why we ought to have a special time of giving in our worship services.
Giving as a Teaching Tool
If you have been reading the articles here at CredoCovenant for longer than just a month, you are probably fairly familiar with my emphasis on pedagogy (the instruction of children). I recall from my earliest experiences in church my mother giving to God during the time of offering at the churches we attended. Not only was she faithful in her giving, but she got my sisters and me involved. She would always give us a little change from her coin purse in order that we might have something to put in the plate.
Now that probably does not sound like much of a big deal, but that small but consistent act set the standard for how I would view giving from then on. Given that giving is a command, as I demonstrated in my last post, to not give to the Lord is to sin against Him. However, for those who were not raised to give regularly to the Lord like I was, it can be easy to feel no guilt for having forgotten their obligation to give. I cannot tell you how many people have told me that they know they should give, but they simply forget. Growing up in my home, there was no forgetting. If we forgot one week, the next week’s check was the sum total of that week’s gift and whatever was “forgotten” from weeks past.
Understand, though, that this is the way I was taught to think about giving. Every household will think and teach their kids differently about giving. The main thing I want you (my readers) to come away with from this biographical sketch is the fact that the time of offering is an opportunity for parents. It is an opportunity for us to teach our children about the importance of giving back to the Lord from the abundance He has given us. You may disagree with my interpretation of Scripture and our obligation to give back to God, but the offering is a time for you to instill in your children whatever you do believe about giving. In this sense, we can all agree that the offering is beneficial for all parents.
Giving as a Blessing to the Giver
The offering is not only beneficial for parents, though. It is beneficial for all who give. Think of it this way: everything we have is given us from God’s heavenly storehouse. We need to always be mindful that all blessings stem from the abundance of God’s goodness. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying we should necessarily expect that God will bless us in this life as a result of our giving, as though we can force God to do anything that is not already His will. I’m not teaching Word of Faith theology, here.
What we can expect is that God will be true to His word and fulfill every promise He has made, whether in this life or in the next. Let’s look at just a few of the promises God has made His people in His word:
“Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?'” (Hebrews 13:5-6; NASB).
“Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’” (Matthew 19:21; NASB).
“Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:33-34; NASB).
“Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” (1Timothy 6:17-19; NASB).
When we give, we lay up treasures for ourselves in heaven. For this reason, it has always bugged me when I have heard pastors say that they are uncomfortable talking about giving, as though the people give for the pastor’s sake. Rather, they should be encouraged all the more to exhort their people to give so that the people themselves will reap the benefits of their generosity. As Paul wrote to the Philippians: “Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account.” (Philippians 4:17:NASB).
Giving as an Act of Stewardship
The term stewardship is a rather antiquated term in the secular world. Really, the only place it is still in regular usage is within the walls of the church. The idea behind it is the fact that all we have on this earth has been given to us from God, but not in the sense that we own it. Rather, all we have in our possession has been given us to manage on behalf of the true Owner of all things: God Himself (Acts 17:25). Thus, we don’t own our children; we merely steward them. We don’t own our bodies; we merely steward them. We don’t own our houses, our cars, our sex organs, our talents, or our money; we merely steward them.
As a result, we will each give an account to the Lord on the last day for what we have done with what we have been given (Luke 12:47-48). Part of this equation is our obligation to contribute to the work God is doing through His church on this earth (Ephesians 4:11-12). Some do not have money to give; they are merely fighting to keep their heads above water. These members may only be able to contribute to the work of the church through their time, talents, and prayers. However, there is a proper expectation in the Bible that God’s people who have ability should give financially to the work of God (1Corinthians 16:2). To do otherwise is to be neglectful in our stewardship of what God has given us.
The norm in most newer evangelical churches and church plants today seems to be to merely give people the opportunity to give as they feel led by providing a box at the back of the room. However, I would contend that we should not only give “as we feel led.” We should give out of a desire to be obedient to the commands given in Scripture. Furthermore, if we are going to say that our giving is an act of worship, we should be willing to include giving in the order of worship. This practice will provide us with a regular opportunity to teach our children the importance of giving. As we give, we will be blessed by our giving and we will prove to be good stewards of all that the Lord has given us.