Weekly Teachings by Erik Momsen
Offering as Worship
by Erik Momsen
In our services of worship I take the offering reluctantly. This is probably because I forget that the offering is a part of worship, and even the pinnacle of worship. Also because I know some give reluctantly. Much of the Old Testament is written to direct worship and much of this is about the offering. Many unfortunately see the offering as paying the bills of the church and feel our personal expenses are more important. However, the offering is God's.
The Assyrians had a god called Mammon and this god demanded worship. Mammon was the god of money and he would be carried before a crowd of worshipers. Money attracts worship, but we must make money subject to worship of the Living God. If we do not place our money under God's hand our money will demand our attention and even worship.
Jesus was very interested in the way people made their offerings (Mark 12:41). He was impressed by radical offerings. Offering out of poverty not abundance. Giving is an act of faith and faith looks forward expectantly to God moving in response to my actions. An offering made in faith seeks a reaction from God.
"Solomon and the assembly sought the Lord ... (he) offered a thousand burned offerings ... In that night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, 'Ask what I shall give you' ." (2 Chronicles 1:5) Solomon and the people were expecting to hear from God, made a radical offering and God appeared.
Worship is fundamentally affected by the offering. The mood in most churches changes when it is offering time. People become self-conscious, guilty, angry and restless. Clive Pick says their faces change because 80% of people are preparing to rob God. A spiritual battle is taking place. Michael is the war angel, Gabriel the messenger and Satan the ousted leader of worship. He knows how worship works. The offering is the central act and if he can kill that he has won a battle. Note also the disciple that betrayed Jesus was the one who had trouble with money and the costly worship of Mary Magdalene.
Our attitude is seen in our bodily posture. "The Lord loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7), but will accept a gift from a grouch, is not true. Solomon knew how to bring an offering (1 Kings 8:54). After he prayed he arose from before the altar and brought an offering of 22 000 bulls and 120 000 sheep. He made a radical offering and this encouraged God's presence.
Moses is instructed by God to "take for me an offering from every man whose heart makes him willing." (Exodus 25:2).
Not all offerings are acceptable
God asks us "shall I accept that from your hand? Cursed is the cheat who ... sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished." (Malachi 1:13)
The first murder in the Bible (Genesis 4:3) was over acceptable and unacceptable offerings. Cain's offering was unacceptable to God and hence anger drove him to kill his brother. Satan will do his worst to prevent right offerings to God.
An acceptable offering is one made in faith. One that seeks to please God and give of our best to Him in response to what He has already given us.
"By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice ... through which he receive approval as righteous." (Hebrews 11:4).
In Cornelius we see that offerings made are part of our relationship with God. God says to Cornelius; "Your prayers and your offerings have ascended as a memorial before God." (Hebrews 10:4)
Since it is a faith and relational issue, our offerings grow as our faith and knowledge of God and His provision grows.
Acceptable offerings do not expect a return. Mary poured out perfume worth 300 denarii (R 30 000) and had no regard for the cost (John 12:3). She only wanted to bless Jesus. She did not say, "Well now I have sown I'll receive 30, 60 and 100 fold in return. Judas however, who is here described as a thief, is angered by this act of worship. The love of money hinders worship.
Acceptable offerings are an issue of purity. Psalm 24 asks "Who will ascend the hill of the Lord? He who has clean hands and a pure heart ."
It is in God's heart to do this and bring about pure and powerful worship.
".. He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the Lord. ... Then I will draw near to you ..." (Malachi 3:3)
Paul tell us giving is an issue of the heart (2 Corinthians 9:7), and so is worship. The two cannot be separated.
Date Added: 2008-04-22
Go to Weekly Teachings by Erik Momsen