‘Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.’ Hebrews 13:16 (NIV)
As Christians, it should be our joy to share with others, especially with those who are truly less fortunate. As God gives to us, we, therefore, should give to others. He provides a bounty for those who are His children, and out of that bounty, we are to give back in some way.
One place we give is with our tithes and offerings. Tithing is a command from God, that we return to the storehouse (our churches) 10% of our income (Malachi 3:10-12). It does not matter what our income is; 10% is a small number when all of it belongs to God in the first place. Also, to give a tithe properly, we must give off the top, or the first fruits. For me, this means writing my check to the church before anything else is paid. This can be difficult in this age of preset automatic payments and such, but when we sit down on payday and actually write out that physical check we are, in our hearts, putting God first. First in our hearts is what He is looking for. And from our obedience, we receive blessings we cannot contain.
Offerings are something we decide to give, and it is up to us to decide how much we will give. We give offerings to other pastors and ministers who come and speak at our churches. We take up a ‘love’ offering at the end of the service. It does not take a lot of extra from everyone to make a worthy offering of this kind. Other offerings may be collected for special needs for members who face a difficulty, or for a community issue, or for missionaries our churches support. What is important here is that we consider an offering to be an opportunity to give, and when we choose a particular event or circumstance to give to, that we give to it joyfully.
We should also be watchful for opportunities to give. There are always those in need, all the year long. Hunger is the same in June as it is at Christmas. Food banks need our help. Just picking up a few extra items whenever we shop can mean a meal on a family’s table during a time of lack. Clothing is another item to consider giving. Our women’s Sunday school class takes in women’s clothing to provide to anyone who needs it, but especially to the ladies at the women’s shelter in our community. There are also benefits held for those suffering from illness or tragedy, and giving in service to those who cannot do for themselves. The opportunities are out there, easily found if we will just watch, listen, and take action.
‘So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.’ 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NKJV)
Yes, God loves it when we give with joy in our hearts. He blesses us, and will provide for and protect us because of it. He is Our Hope, and as such He has given the greatest offering of all to the world, His Son, Jesus Christ, the One true Hope of the World. So let us honor Him, and be intentional to give when and where we can, to sow truth and hope in the lives of those who are down and out, heartbroken, lonely. Our Hope will change lives, including our own.