Offering & Renewed Generosity
“You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.” (2 Corinthians 9:11-12). It's easy to think about what I'm giving up when I give to God. If it's money, about how I'm giving up a nice vacation, or a nicer car, or fixing in my house. If it's time, about how there are things to work on at home, or projects to wrap up at work, or friends I'd rather be spending time with. And it's pretty hard to be generous, or rejoice in God, when that's all I'm thinking about.
When God commands us to give, the focus isn’t on what we’re giving up for God or how much God needs us. Just the opposite, because both of these are false. Nothing we have is ours, it’s a gift from God, and God doesn’t need anything. In Psalm 50, God says “I have no need for bulls from your stall… for the cattle on a thousand hills are mine”. Over and over again the Bible emphasizes our complete dependency on God for everything.
In that context, what can we bring to the Lord? Or to quote Psalm 116, “What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me?” The next verses answer this question better than I ever could: “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord, I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people… I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.” Of course, God doesn’t need our praise, our prayers, or for us to rejoice in everything he has done for us with other believers. But in his mercy and grace he accepts it. Our praise and thanksgiving is glorious to God, particularly when it’s shared with other believers.
Of course, as mentioned on Sunday, the church needs money to keep the lights on and care for the poor. But it’s not like God can’t supply that need whenever and however he wants. He gives us the opportunity each week to praise him with thankful hearts, and one of those ways is giving money. It’s hard for me to do this with rejoicing, probably because I’m so thankless. I forget that everything I have is God’s, I forget all that God has done for me, and I forget that giving is an opportunity God gives us to worship him rather than a drudgery or obligation. What would happen if you and I remembered and meditated on this every day rather than our financial, familial, or career worries? If we remembered that the holy God and creator of the universe, who doesn’t need anything, asks us, even desires us, to “take with you words and return to the Lord” and “call on the name of the Lord”?