Monday: What Portion for Offerings?
Read Deuteronomy 16:17. What criterion does God give as the basis for the amount of our offerings?
Our offerings are an acknowledgment and expression of our gratitude to God for His abundant gifts of life, redemption, sustenance, and constant blessings of many kinds. So, as we noted in the passage above, the amount of our offerings is based on what we have been blessed with. “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required” (Luke 12:48, NKJV).
Read Psalm 116:12-14. How are we supposed to answer the question posed in verse 12? How does money fit in with the answer?
How could we ever repay God for all His blessings to us? The simple answer is that we never could. It seems that the best we can do is be generous with the cause of God and in helping our fellow human beings. When Jesus sent out His disciples on a missionary trip, He told them, “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8, NKJV). Our offerings contribute to the development of a Christlike character. We are thereby changed from selfishness to love; we are to be concerned for others and the cause of God as Christ was.
Let us always remember that “God so loved …, that He gave” (see John 3:16, NKJV). In contrast — as sure as day follows night — the more we hoard for ourselves, the more selfish in our own hearts we will become, and the more miserable we will feel as well.
Bringing an offering to the Lord is a Christian duty with spiritual and moral implications. To neglect this is to do spiritual damage to ourselves, perhaps more than we realize too. In addition to that, it is up to us to determine what amount we give and what entity receives our gifts.
|What do your offerings, and your attitude about giving them, say about your relationship to God?|
Today’s lesson draws on the instructions in Deuteronomy 16 for the Feast of Tabernacles. Rather than just reading the bit where is says:
.... we should take time to consider its context.
The Hebrews kept three pilgrimage feasts.
• The Passover - Pesach (March April)
• The Feast of Weeks - Shavot (May June)
• Feast of Tabernacles - Sukkot (September October)
(I have given the months in our modern calendar simply to make it easier to visualise the timing)
They are called pilgrimage feasts because the intention was that everyone who could made the journey to the tabernacle, and later. when it was built, to the temple.
I want you to note this part of the description of the Feast of Tabernacles:
This feast was to last 7 days. Now, I know how much Carmel and I eat in a week and that doubles when the grandkids are visiting. And it costs a fair bit, even for ordinary food. But this is a festival and during a festival, you eat special food. (It is worth checking Jewish cookery books – they knew how to cook festival food.)
But I want you to note that the celebration of these festivals was to be inclusive; the servants, the Levites, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, were specifically to be included. I mentioned yesterday the importance of “connections” in our offerings. Can you see connections happening here in the context of these festivals?
And if we go back to the description of the second tithe, the Maaser Sheni, The Hebrews were asked to set aside another 10th of their income, and they could spend it on anything they liked provided they shared it with the Levites and the poor. It is my belief that this second tithe was spent on the festivals with a special emphasis of connecting with those who were less well-off.
Now I am not saying that instead of giving to church offerings, go and spend all your offering money on food and have a big party. Offerings are important. However, creating connections with others is one of the most effective ways of sharing the Gospel, and sometimes we underestimate the importance of sharing meals together.
If we look at the early church in the book of Acts, we note that the early Christians often broke bread together. We sometimes take that to mean they celebrated communion, but I suspect that they were often eating meals together. And in that context, they were connecting and sharing and growing the church. Who do you think bought and prepared those meals?
In today’s lesson we learn more about our character in regards to giving. Character is easier kept than recovered.
In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
I don't receive a regular paycheck from work because I'm disabled. My disability is given to me on a debit card. How do I tithe on this?
Greetings, Rob. Am touched by your desire to give despite being on disability benefit. I am a stroke survivor and depend on the goodwill of my children. I, however, try to give to others as often as possible. It's not easy, but God makes it happen.
If you're capable, you can use an ATM to retrieve your tithe, and you can take or send it to your local church. You can also give to the church online, as a lot of churches have set up online giving.
Is there a reason why God said "Bring ye to the altar," and not, "Send to the altar?"
Even in church, I see sometimes someone giving his/her envelope to someone to take to the offertory basket on their behalf; is it in order?
Some even go drop it without reverence, even with the left hand.....
This online giving to me seems to suggest the clergy are interested in our giving more than physical appearance at the altar.
I stand to be advised/corrected.
Hi, Vincent. Thank you for your openness to responses to your comments. I'll give you my take on each point, one at a time.
I think so. Giving was to be a part of the worship experience. God wants our personal service, not just our money. How could an ancient Israelite have sent his offering with someone else, when every able-bodied Jew was required to come to the central place of worship (first Shiloh, then Jerusalem) three times a year? It wouldn't have made sense.
I can understand someone having cultural or personal sensitivities about how things should be done, but every individual has a personality and life experience differing essentially from everyone else. So, maybe it would be better not to set ourselves up as a standard, and look down on those who don't seem to measure up. We cannot discern the motives of others. Even when we can clearly see that someone is out of order, surely we must allow our brothers and sisters room for growth in Christ, as God also shows us mercy.
I'm not sure where you have been (smile), but here on planet Earth we are just getting over a pandemic that at times has made it inadvisable or even impossible for some to attend worship services in person. Depending on one's personal circumstances, there may also be other impediments. Personally, I have found the online Adventist Giving to be extremely helpful. So maybe the "clergy" had a noble motive after all.
You were writing in response to Mark's comment that he wrote in order to help Rob find a solution to the problem of how to tithe income that comes in the form of a debit card. Using that debit card in conjunction with Adventist Giving is probably the most workable solution to the problem, and possibly the only solution. Rob may well be in a position to give online and attend services in person -- a win/win situation.
In Mark 2:25-26, Jesus justifies David and his men in their violation of an actual God-given prohibition (eating the show bread that only the priests were to eat), based on the fact that their desperate physical need took higher priority than the symbolism of the Levitical law. I do not see where giving in absentia is expressly forbidden in the Scriptures. So, perhaps an application of Matthew 12:7 would be in order here?
I hope this helps. Have a blessed day!
If you get a monthly account extract you'll be able to check on how much you were paid. Calculate tithe from this amount. Is that what you're asking?
If you live in North America , you can use the Adventist Giving App, Zelle, Cashapp.
Considering ‘giving’ and ‘receiving’ – what position would one prefer to be in as both imply that we can own that which we give or receive? Considering one’s possible ‘dependency’ on the giver, would we prefer to ‘depend’ on the love of God or the love of man? But there is another perspective to consider.
For the believer, it is possible to consider that all that which enriches the quality of our lives is given to us from/by/through our Creator. How could we then understand the question – “what portion to offer" - since we are recipients as well as givers of good things God provides us with? James 1:17.
For me, to see one's self as a steward of the blessings of God is the only position from which to answer this question. When we consider ourselves to be stewards of God’s benevolence, we accept that nothing which we are asked to use wisely and maintain diligently is 'ours' to give or to keep – we are rather stewards of the varied grace of God. 1 Peter 4:10.
God's design of man placed him into the position of stewardship of His Creation. To fully appreciate this is to recognize the Creator’s ownership right to designate man's life to be lived and experienced as His steward. Deut. 10:14; 1 Cor.3:22.
Understanding that as stewards we truly do not ‘own’ anything of that which we are given in life to take care of, provides a new perspective regarding 'what portion to offer' - 1 Tim. 6:17-19.
Can anyone help and get me back on track or let me know that my applications are corrected regarding the “Cup of Salvation?” What is, “The Cup of Salvation?” Here is where I believed I was led in this study:
Read Luke 22:42:
This Cup of Salvation (the divine wrath) was Christ’s alone, by the will of the Father. If the cup had been removed, there would be no chance of salvation. Yet, Jesus endured and gave His life, offering to us the Cup of Salvation. Jesus kept his vow to the Father.
So, what is the Cup of Salvation to us?
Ellen White talks of making mistakes…
She also (among many other things) tells us to act our part in helping ourselves, as we all must do who would be blessed. And in my favorite (among many other quotes), she says,
Is this an amen or do I need correction? I am not embarrassed if corrected. Iron sharpen Iron.
The 'cup of salvation' refers to all that is necessary to enable both (a) the actual restoration of fallen humanity as a species and (b) each fallen human who is willing to be restored back (ultimately) to our original, pre-fallen design.
Functionally, this involved someone outside of humanity (due to Romans 5:12-14) authentically becoming a human (eg Hebrews 2:17; 2 Corinthians 5:21) to then hold unwaveringly to self-renouncing love despite any and all temptation to do otherwise (Romans 5:19; Philippians 2:8). Thus Jesus became the successful 'second Adam' who repaired the fall of the first Adam and in so doing became the 'lamb of God' who takes away the sin of the world and overcomes the devil and death (Hebrews 2:14). It was this holding unwaveringly to self-renouncing love even at the cost of yielding up His life (John 10:18; 15:13) that actually brought atonement (via fulfilment of Leviticus 17:11 as the basis of atonement).
Because living a life based on self-renouncing love is the basis of abundant-eternal life, each human must 'choose' whether they will co-operate with the drawing of the Holy Spirit to have their heart's desire re-formed (via 're-birth' - John 3:3-6; Psalm 51:10) and then progressively re-learn to live life on that basis. This re-develops our character back to being in harmony with the life we were designed for - living to give.
Thus, the 'cup of salvation' is very practical and down-to-earth. It is reality. Your provided quotes are each and all in harmony with the above overview.
I hope this helps your studying...
Just wondering what you all think - how do donations to entities outside the organized church fit into offerings? For example, I give monthly to a number of charities near to my heart - some health related such as for cancer research, some to humanitarian organizations and also to the Canadian Bible Society (now you know I am Canadian!). Some are Christian, some are not. Would this relate to offerings or not? (I do give systematically to the church and its programs too, of course). I'm not saying they are the same thing, but I think traditionally we've ignored these things. But are they not a way of helping our fellow humans?
I’d like to hear what others say about this too.
I think the problem arises when you give in lieu of giving to the Lord (through His church)—which you are not.
Here are my own thoughts: As with all charitable organizations, it is important to “be wise as a serpent” and make sure their budget is not tipped in the direction of administrative overheads. But I also think that we should consider the core mission and make sure that it aligns with what we believe in the Bible.
Hello Christina and Sarah –
Regarding your question if it is ‘appropriate’ to give offerings to others than the organized church's established network to help those in need; may I ask you to consider Heb.2:10 and James 1:17?
I suggest that when one sees him/herself as a steward of God’s ‘varied grace’ – 1 Peter 4:10, then giving is done from the position of stewardship of that which our heavenly Father provides.
By using wise decision making practices, you share your blessings in the way the Holy Spirit directs your heart; guilt and obligation are not good indicators when considering one's giving and sharing.
Luke 7:36-39 – gives an example of a woman supporting Jesus’ respite and comfort as she anoints His feet with precious oil; an act of devotion and gratitude which was considered to be a wasted opportunity by the apostles who suggested to help the poor by selling the oil - Matt. 26:6-13.
I also give to a number of different “charitable” organizations, many of which are Christian, but some are not. The questions I ask myself are:
1) Could I see Jesus working with these organizations to accomplish the work that they are doing? There are many organizations that do amazing work that I could never do and do it very well. They are culturally sensitive and work to help people learn practical skills that improve their lives with benefits that positively impact family and community.
2) Are they effective stewards of the money they receive? The higher the “administrative” costs, the less likely I am to support. Is the work being done effectively meeting the objectives that are set.
3) Are they supported by volunteers? If people think that an organization is doing good work, they will often commit their time to working for the organization without remuneration. This speaks to the value and quality of work that is being done by an organization.
4) How does the organization manage challenging situations with its people and the people with which they interact? No organization is perfect. People will make mistakes and occasionally there will be “bad actors” in an organization. How does the organization handle these situations? Are they transparent? Truthful? Honest? Do they learn from their “mistakes” or do they keep doing the same things over and over again?
In my experience, these criteria are keys that align with the “mind” of Christ and make an organization worthy of support.
Read Psalm 116:12-14. How are we supposed to answer the question posed in verse 12? How does money fit in with the answer?
Does this insinuate that only money can be rendered to God to "compensate/pay" for His goodness? Can't we render our talents/gifts, time and bodies?
Vincent, you have struck a real chord with me. Time is money and we often hear calls for volunteers to do this or that in the church. We need doers, not tithe-payers! We render to God what is His, but He declared that He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. I am disappointed with the lessons in the current quarterly. It seems as if the church leadership is begging for money when they should be focused on the teachings of Christ and spreading the Gospel in our neck of the woods!
It is sad to see people having a negative view of returning tithe to our wonderful Creator God. God did not institute the system of tithing because He needed the money. He instituted it because we need the exercise returning tithes and giving offerings to uproot selfishness out of our lives.
The question is not whether to return tithe or whether to offer "our hands and feet, our eyes and ears, our words and testimony." A grateful heart will lead to doing *both.*
"The leaders" would be complicit in withholding a blessing from the people if they did not teach about tithing and returning offering. We are blessed in the very act of giving because of what it does to our souls. The blessings promised in Mal 3:10 and Deuteronomy 18 are on top of the inherent blessings of giving which lead us to become more like our self-giving Lord.