We see a lot of details concerning the Tabernacle in today’s Bible reading. In fact, it’s easy to get lost in all of the details. But one thing we shouldn’t miss. It comes at the beginning of today’s reading. The Lord spoke to Moses: “Tell the Israelites to take an offering for me. You are to take my offering from everyone who is willing to give.
Exodus 25:1–2 (CSB)
God tells Moses to take up an offering from everyone willing to give. God isn’t requiring a tithe/tax from anyone. He isn’t giving an amount for people to give. He simply tells Moses to collect funds to support this new building program.
For those of you who have been around church for very long, when was the last time you were invited to give to a building program and not urged to give under compulsion? All too often, in an effort to keep up with the Joneses, churches bite off more than they can — and should — chew and strap their children to pay the debt.
We’re very fortunate in our church to not owe anyone a penny. All of our funds go to cover the costs of doing ministry and missions. Sure, there are bills to pay including insurance, electricity, and salaries. But we don’t have to sink any money into interest payments on property larger than we can afford. That is a great praise to God and to God’s people who give!
When Paul comes along raising funds to support his ministry, he doesn’t insist that people give. In fact, he says that he doesn’t want to make a big push to take up a collection when he arrives in Corinth.
On the first day of the week, each of you is to set something aside and save in keeping with how he is prospering, so that no collections will need to be made when I come. When I arrive, I will send with letters those you recommend to carry your gift to Jerusalem. If it is suitable for me to go as well, they will travel with me.
1 Corinthians 16:2–4 (CSB)
Paul goes so far as to say that he doesn’t even want to touch the gifts. Instead, church representatives would accompany Paul on his missions trip and deliver the funds themselves.
Instead of heaping blame on the Corinthians and begging for money, Paul says,
The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not reluctantly or out of compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:6–8 (CSB)
Just as God did with the funding for the Tabernacle, Paul simply solicits gifts from those willing to give.
What is your attitude toward giving? Specifically, what is your attitude toward those “special” offerings above and beyond your regular giving? Do you set aside a little extra every payday so you have something extra to give when a need arises? Doing so may require better stewardship in your budgeting.
Ask God to show you how much you should give. And when you hear His answer, give generously to Him and His work. Paul is spot-on when he says that the person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. (2 Corinthians 9:6 CSB)
In contrast to what you may see on “Christian” TV programming, note that Paul isn’t promising ten-fold financial riches in exchange for a financial donation. He just highlights a simple Kingdom principle that God rewards those who give. The reward may or may not be a financial return. And when God does bless financially, we should freely use that financial blessing to bless others. But sometimes, the reward isn’t financial. And we need to be OK with that.