Giving As Worship

Paul declared to the Corinthians that they were to give on Sunday as God prospered them, taking up a collection that they would use later to glorify God through the benevolent actions of the church (1 Cor. 16:1-2). In his second letter to them, he encouraged them to become cheerful givers (2 Cor. 9:7). As we approach the subject of giving, we want to look at its relationship to worship. By noting some lessons regarding worship, we conversely ought to see the nature of giving as worship to God.

Learning from Abel, worship involves sacrifice. During the Patriarchal and Mosaic dispensations, sacrifices predominately included their livestock of lambs, bulls, or goats. Other sacrifices outlined in the book of Leviticus included grain. All of these denoted that man was to give something valuable from himself to God as a means of approaching God in worship. Today, we do not give the same type of physical things (Heb. 10:4). Christ gave Himself as our perfect sacrifice (Heb. 9:24-28), but as we approach God in worship, we still must approach Him with this same attitude—we sacrifice ourselves (Rom. 10:1) as we sacrifice our money. Speaking of sacrificial givers, Paul used the churches of Macedonia as examples of those who “first gave their own selves to the Lord” (2 Cor. 8:5). In the context of their giving, he praised them because “their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality” (2 Cor. 8:2). Thus, God blesses the one who gives sacrificially, because the worshipper understands the need to worship God with sacrifice. Contrast this with the attitude David avoided in his desire to build an altar of worship and sacrifice (2 Sam. 24:21). When Araunah wanted to give it to him for free, David responded, “Nay, but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing” (2 Sam. 24:24). Therefore, proper worship to God involves a cost—it involves giving.

In fact, the Hebrew writer referred to the worshipful sacrifices of Abel as “gifts” (Heb. 11:4). We ought to look upon worship as our gift to God, and thus, our giving as worship. If a stingy person only gives a little to God, he likely will be tempted to think little of his worship. Rather than selfishly thinking of ourselves, we ought to be thinking, “What may I offer to God that will please him?” Consequently, a failure to have this attitude has tragically led some to express, “Well, I did not get anything out of worship.”

Paul stated that giving proves “the sincerity of your love” (2 Cor. 8:8). God does not need our money, but because He understands the severity of the sin of covetousness (Luke 12:15), it is a method of proving our love to God within our worship to Him. By such, I believe we can see a shadow of this principle when the Israelites freely gave towards the construction of the tabernacle (Ex. 35-36)—they gave until Moses had to restrain them (Ex. 36:6-7). In other words, the redeemed heart that truly appreciates redemption will have no problem giving as worship to God!

Our giving in worship reminds us of the giving that God has done on our behalf (2 Cor. 8:9). Jesus sacrificed the riches of glory for my redemption (Eph. 2:4-7). God did not give His Son to die out of pressure or duty (cf. John 3:16); neither did Jesus give Himself up out of pressure or duty (John 10:18; Eph. 5:25). Our giving is a reciprocation of such that praises the Father, Son and Holy Spirit for what they did to make redemption possible!

Therefore, our ultimate purpose in giving is to glorify God—this is what we do in worship. To illustrate, consider the scenario that we had lost everything. Brethren from all over would respond and help us in time of need. How would we respond to such an outpouring of Christian love? Would we not immediately praise God and thank Him for touching the lives of individuals through the gospel, changing selfish hearts into unselfish hearts (Acts 20:35) to sacrifice and help us in our time of need? In 2 Corinthians 8-9, Paul explains that this is exactly what happens whenever we give as a means of worship. The psalmist asked, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?” (Psa. 116:12). As we worship God, we are truly able to say, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (2 Cor. 9:15).

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