Giving off the Top Shelf

In church leadership circles, much conversation takes place regarding how one should collect offerings. Should offering plates be utilized? Should there simply be a box at the back of the sanctuary where people can more anonymously give their monetary donations? Should the offering be collected and brought up front so the minister can review the amount and determine whether or not a second passing of the plate is needed? Should prayer handkerchiefs, books, or Holy Land water be given away as incentives? Should the church follow the example of Johann Tetzel and his Pope who sold indulgences (Get Out of Hell Free Cards) to the family of the deceased? Or perhaps the church use an automatic drafting system which offers more anonymity, greater ease, more consistent cash flow, and a shorter worship service? Yes, much bantering goes on regarding the most acceptable manner to fund the work of God. However, perhaps the question should not be, “How should the church collect her offerings?”, but “How should the people give their offerings?”

With this question in mind, 1 Chronicles 29 will be of great assistance. *

We should give worshipfully. We should give first and foremost because we long to honor and glorify our Savior. Sure, we are delighted to see a beautiful physical structure built and maintained. Sure, we are delighted to see the spiritual house of God multiplied and matured. However, these good, acceptable, honorable, utilitarian, and pragmatic uses are secondary. The giving of our offerings is a matter of worship, “It is for the LORD God.” (29:1)

We should give freely. True, Israel was required to give various tithes and taxes. (Lev. 27:30; Mal. 3:7-10)  These were not optional, and the worshiper who gave not God’s required tithe was a rebellious and accursed thief. However, what we see in 1 Chronicles is distinct from the tithe. Here we see David and Israel giving freewill offerings. This practice was seen when Moses constructed the tabernacle. (Ex. 25:1)  It is seen here as David works to fund Temple construction. (1 Chron. 29:5, 6, 9, 17)  It is also seen in the New Testament era as the Apostles work to construct the New Covenant building of Christ. Paul writes, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:7)  It is not the purpose of this devotional to talk about the continuance or discontinuance of the tithe. (Email me if you desire my study on this issue.***)  Regardless of whether or not one sees the tithe as a continuing ordinance, one should give freely to the worship of the one, true God, and one should enjoy it. David and the leaders are rejoicing as the give away their assets. (1 Chron. 29:9)  Giving to the Lord should be enjoyable, or in the words of the Apostle Paul, it should be hilarious.

We should give excellently. Because we are giving to the Lord, we should only give him our best. David had already given the best of his time. With great passion he obtained supplies from the surrounding nations. Then David gave from his own personal stockpile of wealth. Now he encouraged Solomon and the people to follow his example. Only the best of Israel’s grain and produce were to be presented to God. Only the best animals were acceptable. Nothing half-hearted or easily discarded was to be offered to the Lord. God was worthy of their best. Expensive and extravagant are two words that describe good worship and giving.

We should give humbly. David and the people understand that “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it; the world, and all who live in it.” (Psalm 24:1)  In 1 Chronicles 29:11, David proclaims this truth afresh, “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power, and the majesty, and the splendor; for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. The people recognize their wealth comes only from the Lord. (29:12) Therefore, they recognize they are only giving to the Lord that which he first gave to them. (29:14)  Ultimately, they realize they are only managers of the Lord’s assets, and so there is no pride and arrogance in their philanthropic giving. So with humble adoration they proclaimed:

But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. We are aliens and strangers in your sight, as were all our forefathers. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope. O LORD our God, as for all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name, it comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you.” (1 Chronicles 29:14-16)

Therefore, how should we apply this passage to ourselves?

1.  Do we, as church leaders, provide an opportunity for people to worship with Scripture, song, prayer, sacraments, and in giving of one’s monetary offerings?

2.  Do we, as worshipers of Jesus Christ, consider our financial offerings to be freewill offerings? What do our emotions teach us? Do we enjoy giving to the Lord and his work?

3.  Do we, as worshipers of Jesus Christ, give of our first fruits? If our financial gifts were represented by a bottle of wine, would it be from the top shelf, or would it be something from a box?

4.  Do we, as worshipers of Jesus Christ, give without fanfare? Do we need for people to know what we give? Would it help us to give more if there was some sort of recognition involved?

5.  Can you pray that your church might have the Mosaic problem?

Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the LORD had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work.  They received from Moses all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of constructing the sanctuary. And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning.  So all the skilled craftsmen who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left their work  and said to Moses, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the LORD commanded to be done.”  Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.  (Exodus 36:2-7)

6.  Can you help make sure that your church has the Mosaic problem?

 

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* 1 Chronicles 29     And David the king said to all the assembly, “Solomon my son, whom alone God has chosen, is young and inexperienced, and the work is great, for the palace will not be for man but for the Lord God. So I have provided for the house of my God, so far as I was able, the gold for the things of gold, the silver for the things of silver, and the bronze for the things of bronze, the iron for the things of iron, and wood for the things of wood, besides great quantities of onyx and stones for setting, antimony, colored stones, all sorts of precious stones and marble. Moreover, in addition to all that I have provided for the holy house, I have a treasure of my own of gold and silver, and because of my devotion to the house of my God I give it to the house of my God: 3,000 talents of gold, of the gold of Ophir, and 7,000 talents of refined silver, for overlaying the walls of the house, and for all the work to be done by craftsmen, gold for the things of gold and silver for the things of silver. Who then will offer willingly, consecrating himself today to the Lord?” Then the leaders of fathers’ houses made their freewill offerings, as did also the leaders of the tribes, the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, and the officers over the king’s work. They gave for the service of the house of God 5,000 talents and 10,000 darics of gold, 10,000 talents of silver, 18,000 talents of bronze and 100,000 talents of iron. And whoever had precious stones gave them to the treasury of the house of the Lord, in the care of Jehiel the Gershonite. Then the people rejoiced because they had given willingly, for with a whole heart they had offered freely to the Lord. David the king also rejoiced greatly. Therefore David blessed the Lord in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: “Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own. I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you. O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you. Grant to Solomon my son a whole heart that he may keep your commandments, your testimonies, and your statutes, performing all, and that he may build the palace for which I have made provision.” Then David said to all the assembly, “Bless the Lord your God.” And all the assembly blessed the Lord, the God of their fathers, and bowed their heads and paid homage to the Lord and to the king. And they offered sacrifices to the Lord, and on the next day offered burnt offerings to the Lord, 1,000 bulls, 1,000 rams, and 1,000 lambs, with their drink offerings, and sacrifices in abundance for all Israel. And they ate and drank before the Lord on that day with great gladness. And they made Solomon the son of David king the second time, and they anointed him as prince for the Lord, and Zadok as priest. Then Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord as king in place of David his father. And he prospered, and all Israel obeyed him. All the leaders and the mighty men, and also all the sons of King David, pledged their allegiance to King Solomon. And the Lord made Solomon very great in the sight of all Israel and bestowed on him such royal majesty as had not been on any king before him in Israel. Thus David the son of Jesse reigned over all Israel. The time that he reigned over Israel was forty years. He reigned seven years in Hebron and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. Then he died at a good age, full of days, riches, and honor. And Solomon his son reigned in his place. Now the acts of King David, from first to last, are written in the Chronicles of Samuel the seer, and in the Chronicles of Nathan the prophet, and in the Chronicles of Gad the seer, with accounts of all his rule and his might and of the circumstances that came upon him and upon Israel and upon all the kingdoms of the countries.

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** Email Address     josephfranks@palmettohills.com

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*** Now, if you would like to support this ministry, please write your check to Joseph Franks International Ministries. In return, for a love gift of $500 or more, I will send you some tissues from my office. Many people have found nasal solace and comfort from this box of love.    (Just a little humor!)


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