Volume. XXIV, No. 41
Worship Part 6
I cannot finish talking about offering without a few cautions.
One, we must be cautioned that not all offerings or sacrifices are acceptable to God. We know that God refused to accept Cain and his offering, while He accepted Abel and his offering. Malachi 1 is one of the most graphic examples of God’s rejection of offerings. Malachi 1:10 says, “Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? Neither do ye kindle fire on mine altar for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith the LORD of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand.” Malachi 2:13, “And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand” (cf. Amos 5:22).
Two, there are pre-requisites before we bring offerings. Hosea 6:6 says, “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (Matthew 9:13; 12:7). It means that offerings are not to be brought just for the sake of bringing something to God. Instead, offering must be a fruit of our Christian character and relationship with God. If we hate our brethren and are merciless to them, we cannot expect that our offerings may please the Lord. Reconciliation with those who are against us is a pre-requisite before we can bring offerings to God (Matthew 5:23-24). Of course, we need to know of God before we offer anything to Him. Sinning against God and bringing offering to Him simultaneously cannot and should not take place. Amos 4:4-5 is a classic example: “Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years: 5 And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.” Their offerings brought satisfaction to them, but not to God.
Three, a right relationship with God enables us to give acceptable offerings to God. Mark 12:33, “And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” It is worth noting that a right relationship with God which involves love and understanding towards Him does not exclude our right relationship with fellow men. Loving our neighbours as ourselves is an important element for an acceptable offering. We need to consider Hebrews 13:16 carefully: “But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”
Four, God is entitled to receive our offerings. To bring offering to God is both a privilege and Christian duty. Malachi 3:8 says, “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings” We may need to pay attention to the severity of words (“rob God”) and kinds of offerings (“tithes and offerings”: the importance of both tithes and offerings should be noticed).
Five, Christian offerings are related to their fellowship with God. They are not for redemption because there is no other sacrifice for our salvation. Jesus Christ is the ultimate sacrifice offered on our behalf. Ephesians 5:2 says, “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.” Thus, we may say that all our offerings are offered on the top of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, without which there is no offering to God. Hebrews 10:10 says, “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (cf. 10:18; 1 Corinthians 5:7).
There are some more thoughts on offerings applicable to all of us who are living not in the era of animal sacrifices and offerings.
One, praising God is a form of offering. Hebrews 13:15 says, “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name”. From this verse, we can note a few points: (1) praise is a form of offering, (2) it must be offered continually, (3) it must be given to God, (4) it is the fruit of our lips, (5) it is to give thanks, and (6) it is offered to His name. It talks about the importance of praising God, which is demonstrated in its contents – thanksgiving to His name.
Two, we ourselves are the offerings. Romans 12:1-2 say, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” The passage tells us that our bodies are the living sacrifices. In order to present our bodies as living sacrifices, they have to be prepared by and through a right mind as verse 2 states. Thus, both body and mind are to be offered to God. We need to know that “service” in verse 1 also means worship. Thus, this passage teaches us about how we should come to worship God. And also it tells us that more than monetary offering is required for our worship.
Three, we ourselves are the offering in a different sense from the previous point. Philippians 2:17 says, “Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.” It refers to offering ourselves to the ministries of God for the sake of the benefits of other believers. Paul offered himself as a sacrifice for the Philippian believers. The word for “be offered” is also translated as “to be poured as a drink offering.” Paul gave himself for God’s ministry for the benefits of His people.
Four, financial assistance given to the work of God is a God pleasing offering. Philippians 4:18 says, “But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.” When Paul left Macedonia, only the Philippian congregation made financial contributions toward Paul and his ministry. Paul described their financial contribution as an odor of sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable and well pleasing to God.
Lastly, the assembly of God’s people, His church, is to offer spiritual sacrifices to Him. 1 Peter 2:5 says, “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” It shows the importance of the church of God which is consisted of His people. Each and every one of the members of Christ’s church is important in rendering spiritual sacrifices to God. It is my hope and prayer that all of us will do our very best to serve the Lord by offering both financial and spiritual sacrifices for God’s honour and His work on earth.
By the way, while I was writing this article, I became curious about the etymology of “give.” It is because offering is an act of giving both financially and spiritually. “Give” comes from “giefan” (past tense geaf). Its meaning became “to yield to pressure” from 1577. One etymology dictionary says that the modern sense of “what is given, known fact” is from 1879. “To give (someone) a cold seems to reflect the old belief that one could be cured of disease by deliberately infecting others.” As I am thinking about the offering and its importance to the believers, I am just wondering if we bring offerings to God with the meaning of giving from Old English, “to yield to pressure.” The Bible tells us that God loves cheerful givers. Besides, if we need to learn one more thing from etymology dictionaries, it is about the meaning of “give-and-take.” Apparently it “originally comes from horse racing (1769) and refers to races in which bigger horses were given more weight to carry, lighter ones less.” It is the same principle we find from 2 Corinthians 8:12-15: “For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. 13 For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: 14 But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: 15 As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.” If we have more than others, then we give more. In our giving, let us not forget that we cannot give more than God, who is the ultimate giver (2 Corinthians 9:15).
Your Senior Pastor
(Ps Ki is also pastor of New Life B-P Church, London)