“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give.’” (Exodus 25:1-2 NIV)
During worship a few Sundays ago, I watched a preacher turn the sometimes sleepy time of offering on its head.
The deacons came down front to pick up the collection plates, but the pastor stopped them in their tracks. He said, “I want the deacons to come to me first because I’ve got some money I want to give. Just how much is between me and God, but I always get skipped when it comes to giving, and I’ve decided, "Not today; give me the collection plate!”
After I stopped staring and grinning, I began piecing together what was happening. The believers in that place were being shown that giving in worship isn’t optional or just an afterthought, but a priority.
Standing with bills folded in hand and demanding the collection plate, this pastor put treasure and worship on a collision course with each other. He embodied the teaching of Jesus who bluntly said that, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21, NIV)
Giving is a doorway through which the sweet and tender worship of God enters.
It’s no accident that the offerings made by worshipers in Exodus 25 would go toward constructing the sanctuary. Giving leads to worship. It’s no accident either that the only gifts received are the ones that were presented by those “whose hearts prompted them.” Worship results in giving.
This worship later contrasts with the debacle of the golden calf. Aaron demands that the Israelites’ earrings and rings be given so the idol could be fashioned. This offering may look like worship, but it is entirely compulsory. Like the Israelites, when your only conviction to give is because you have to, it’s time to look around to see which god you are worshiping.
The wonder of meeting God in worship is that the only acceptable offering is the one freely given. The good news is that God has made a way for this freedom in Jesus Christ. Worship and giving converge through the One who freely gave everything in devotion to the Father.
The wonder of giving is that we are most truly our restored selves when, in Jesus’ name, we stand up in worship and say, “Give me the collection plate!”