Come to think of it: what we mostly perceive as skimpy offering, God may consider as substantial and what we consider huge, God may neglect as insignificant and an iota of a big deal. God really desires a voluntary, cheerful giver rather than one who gives to show off and feign piety.
I have come to know that in the church, most people give out offering not because they want to but because the preacher says so. In fact, the amount of money some congregants even give as offering is as a result of the preacher’s influence or dictate (in some cases). Majority of people give regularly in church but do not necessarily understand its spirito-economic significance. For the hard-hearted congregants, they will never give offering on any occasion even if God Himself comes down to demand it.
There are also the rich congregants who see offertory and seed sowing time to be a time to flaunt their riches at the admiration and applause of the church leaders and church members alike. You’ll hear the pastor call out, “God wants to use someone to buy a generator for the church. Somebody, don’t disobey the council of the Holy spirit. You know yourself. Kindly walk towards the pulpit and…” I’m sure you know what continues. In less than a minute, about twelve wealthy people are found standing in front of the pulpit and the bidding to buy the generator becomes more of an auction. The first person pulls out his fat wallet from his pocket, counts a huge sum of money and hands it over to the pastor. The cheers from the congregation invigorates the next person to give a relatively higher amount.
The next person, in order to get louder cheers, pays in dollars and pounds sterling. It follows till the last person signs off a cheque that cannot not only buy ten generators but a new set of drums and microphones altogether. The ‘seed sowing’ time or should I say, appeal for funds moment turns into a giving show contest and that is when the poor in the church look down upon themselves, feel belittled and go home with their one Ghana cedi (Ghs 1.00) note they intended to give out as offering because the preacher even emphasised that God is fed up with the ‘vodafone denomination’ of the Ghana cedi currency.
This situation makes offertory seem a sheer liturgical practice in the church done to please the pastor or the congregation rather than the sacrosanct intent of pleasing God. This shouldn’t be the case at all. It pains me to know that most Christians do not understand the principle of giving; they simply don’t know the value of giving and I think it is high time this gap is bridged.
Giving is a principle and obligatory for a christian. In fact, It is a necessity for prosperity. The paradox of giving is that: the more you give, the more you receive. However, you should bear in mind that when you give, you do it for God’s sake and not for the sake of men. You shouldn’t be forced to give! You should give out of your own free will; in your abundance or in your scarcity. All that matters is that you give with a sincere heart and a clear conscience as highlighted in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 English Standard Version (ESV):
6. The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
7. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Giving is supposed to be the nature of a christian, a lifestyle and a daily priority. Thus, one who professes to be a christian shouldn’t in any way find difficulty in giving. I must add that giving is not only limited to church service alone. It can be done anywhere, to anyone, at anytime. It all depends on your decision, inspiration and the leading of the Holy spirit. Giving is not also limited to the form of money. You can give to people in the virtue of your words or time.
It is one thing to give without inspiration or understanding and it is another thing to be inspired to give by the inspiration of love such that God finds it pleasing. Personally, I never understood the format of giving till I came across a Biblical account captioned in my NLT Bible, “The widow’s offering”. This interesting account that made me pause to think and meditate over it for sometime is found in Mark 12:41-44:
41. Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts.
42. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
43. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.
44. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.
For other Bible translations, this account is captioned, “The widow’s mite”. And I’m sure you’re beginning to relate to how the English noun/idiom, “widow’s mite” came about. Dictionary.com defines it as a small contribution given cheerfully by one who can ill afford it. This definition is quite clear but doesn’t give detailed information so let’s consider the original context from which it was coined.
In Jesus’ times in Palestine, the small copper coin was called a lepton; there actually were no coins called mites. However, there was a mite in the time of the creation of the King James Bible, as indeed there had been at the time of earliest modern English translation of the New Testament by William Tyndale in 1525. In the society as of those times, it was almost a social obligation to give a silver coin at church collections, for there were many framed money galleries and armored safes in churches that needed to be filled. Only the very poor could get away with giving a copper coin and only the desperately poor would give a copper coin as small as a mijt, as their social status could hardly sink any lower.
In the story, a widow donates two small coins, while wealthy people donate much more. The Gospel of Mark from the NLT translation specifies that the two very small copper coins are worth only a few cents. In the KJV context, two mites (Greek lepta) are together worth a quadrans, the smallest Roman coin. A lepton was the smallest and least valuable coin in circulation in Judea, worth about six minutes of an average daily wage. Jesus explains to his disciples that the small sacrifices of the poor mean more to God than the extravagant, but proportionately lesser, donations of the rich.
On the general outlook, the wealthy people gave more money, but giving critical considerations, it very well might have been a smaller percentage of their total income than the woman gave. Also, the widow sacrificially gave from her heart, whereas the man gave to show off his wealth and to feign being religious.
What am I trying to insinuate here? I’m not saying that we should all give small sums of money at church or give people little money when they are in need. I’m not also making a principle that God is automatically displeased with huge offerings. Not at all! The truth I want us to understand is that when it comes to giving, what measures how worthy we give is the proportion we give and more importantly, the heart with which we give. I have heard people say that God rejected Cain’s offering because the crops he presented were unwholesome and small whereas Abel’s offering was a healthy fat sheep without blemish. This sounds logical but is far from the truth. What differentiated the worth of their giving is that the former gave grudgingly and customarily whereas the latter gave out of a cheerful and kind heart, knowing the significance of his giving.
I admonish us that when giving, we should give out of a cheerful heart, we should give a proportionally good amount. Say, giving five cedis (Ghs 5.00) as offering when all that you have for your weekly domestic upkeep is ten cedis (Ghs 10.00). That makes you give a percentage of fifty (50 %) more than some one who gives fifty cedis (Ghs 50.00) out of an abundance of thousand cedis (Ghs 1,000.00), making a relatively lesser percentage of five (5 %).
When you understand this principle and put it into practice, it won’t be difficult at all to cheerfully give fifty thousand cedis (Ghs 50,000.00) offering in church when your monthly income increases to as much as a hundred thousand cedis (Ghs 100,000.00). It’s still worth fifty percent (50 %), ain’t it?
In practice therefore, you have no excuse at all not to give offering at church because you have short of money and the only money you have is just a fifty (50) pesewas coin which seems meager. So far as that’s what you can afford and God knows that you are giving it heartily, giving it will more than please Him and I bet that you’ll be equally blessed as someone who gave higher amount. After all, a widow’s mite is all that God needs: nothing more, nothing less!