“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
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!”