Tuesday, 7 Sept 2021
Title: Giving In Worship
By: Stephen Wong
Text: 2 Corinthians 9:6-7
“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Christians have great opportunities to serve the Lord our God through giving. All of us, have in one way or another, been giving to God a portion of our income when we were active in employment, business or investing. In addition, fellow believers also contribute to worthy causes in and around the community in which we live. Some have undertaken bold causes that are praiseworthy like giving scholarships to students from less privileged backgrounds, or to causes like the Covid-19 Food Aid project which is reaching out to many of the needy in Klang Valley these few months. But what does God say about our giving?
How can we give our offerings in a manner that will please God?
First, giving is really a matter between us and God. We do not give regular offerings to God via the church because we are compelled to. It is up to us to give regularly, or not to give at all. We give our offerings through the church, because we believe that the church is the body of Christ established by God, to proclaim the Great Commission and this work needs financial support to be sustained. In our “old normal”, we were physically present in church to worship God and to enjoy the facilities for fellowship and bible studies alongside other wholesome activities. Yet, in the “new normal”, we ought to maintain financial support so that the church can continue her good work to meet the needs of the church community through the Elders, Pastors, Deacons and other ministry helpers. Reaching out to the world requires a physical presence in the world through our mission partners. Online presence is never the same as being physically present. Our missionaries and pastors make a difference by being present to share the gospel and offer pastoral care. And workers and facilities must be paid for.
While the Old Testament prescribes a tithe or a “tenth” of what you earned to be given to God, it is not so in the New Testament (NT) era. There is no prescribed portion of our income in the Bible that we ought to give in this church age, though I would support the notion that a “tenth” is indeed a good start to begin with. In other words, you can give more to God after the 1st tenth. What is important is not the amount of monies, that you give to God, but whether the giving is sacrificial in nature. God is the best example of giving in John 3:16, where He gave His only begotten Son so that all who believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. It costs the triune God, the life of His Son, to redeem the world. Likewise, we should learn to experience what it means to give sacrificially. It is painful, and we must give up some of our wants and even needs, to be able to give more. It is important to give a “tenth” of what you earn from the beginning of your career so that it becomes second nature to give to God every first week of the month. Now, what happens when you cannot afford a tenth, or even two percent of your earnings, as offerings to God because of poor income? You can still give your one percent, or whatever amount you have purposed. Fix the amount and be faithful to offer the gift to God, the moment you get your pay-check every month. Tell God what you have purposed to give Him each month. In time, God will help you to give more. It is certain that God does not want us to give till we are dependent on others for our basic living requirements. That is not right, and we must have the correct perspective. As we give, our personal and family needs must be considered as priorities by us as a responsible parent or adult child. We cannot abandon the needs of our families in the name of giving “corban” to God (Mark 7:11).
God accepts the gift from us whether it is big or small, so long as we give it purposefully and with a cheerful heart (2 Cor 9:7). He knows our hearts and our generosity with Him even as He has been generous with us. So, my fellow brethren, do not fear but even as we start a new month with God, let us give faithfully of ourselves and then of the first fruits of our labour. God will be pleased to see you, in the midst of the multitudes from every tribe and tongue that bow down and worship Him. God will help you in your offerings and pledges unto Him. He is the wonderful God who provides for us in every circumstance. But what about the unemployed Christian? We can talk about that in my next article.
Our Heavenly Father, hallowed be Your Name, Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one. Lord, we pray that we will persevere in obedience to Your commandments to live godly and purposeful lives. As Your people, we offer ourselves first to You as a living sacrifice and then the first fruits of our labour. We pray that You will accept all that is offered with a sincere and grateful heart, and may You bless it and make us even more bountiful in the coming weeks and months. In Jesus’s name. Amen
首先，奉献是我们与上帝之间的事情。我们不是被迫通过教会定期奉献给上帝。无论是定期奉献或者是不奉献，这都取决于我们。我们通过教会献上我们的奉献是因为我们相信教会是上帝所设立的基督的身体，宣讲大使命的这项工程需要金钱的支持才能维持。在我们的 “旧常态” 中，我们亲身到教会敬拜上帝并享受团契和圣经查考的设施以及其他有益健康的活动。然而，在这 “新常态” 下，我们应该保持给予教会经济上的支持，好让教会可以继续那美好的工作，通过长老、牧师、执事和其他事工的同工去满足教会团体的需要。接触世人需要通过我们的使命伙伴亲身出现在他们中间。在线上出席是无法和亲身在场相比的。我们的传道和牧师通过在场分享福音和提供教牧关怀发挥不同的作用，这就必须支付员工和设施的费用了。
虽然旧约规定您所赚得的十分之一(tithe or “tenth”)要献给上帝，但是在新约时代并非如此。圣经中没有规定我们应该在这个教会时代奉献的收入比例，尽管我支持 “十分之一” 确是一个很好的开始。换句话说，您可以在第一个的十分之一之后奉献更多给上帝。重要的不是您奉献给上帝金钱的数目，而是奉献是否具有牺牲的本质。在约翰福音3:16 ，上帝是最好的奉献的榜样，祂献出祂的独生子，好叫一切信祂的，不至灭亡，反得永生。三位一体的上帝要付上祂儿子生命的代价去救赎世人。同样地，我们应该要学习体验具牺牲性奉献的意义。这是痛苦的，我们必须放弃一些我们想要的，甚至是需要的，才能给予更多。重要的是，在您的事业开始时，将所赚取的奉献 “十分之一”，这样在每个月的第一个星期奉献给上帝就成了您的第二个天性。那么当您收入低而无法负担您收入的十分之一，甚至百分之二作为对上帝的奉献时该怎么办？您仍然可以奉献百分之一，或者您想要奉献的任何数额。在您每个月收到您的薪水支票的那一刻，确定奉献的数额并忠心地献上礼物给上帝。告诉上帝您每个月要奉献多少给祂；假以时日，上帝将会帮助您奉献更多。可以肯定的是，上帝不要我们奉献到一个地步以至我们的基本生活需要都须靠赖别人。那是不对的，我们必须要有正确的观点。当我们给予时，作为一个负责任的父母或成年子女，我们必须先考量我们个人和家庭的需求。我们不能以 “各耳板”（各耳板，就是供献的意思）的名义不理我们家人的需要而奉献给上帝（马可福音7:11）。