Offerings and the Heart






Scripture:

2Kings 12:4   Jehoash said to the priests, “All the money offered as sacred donations that is brought into the house of the LORD, the money for which each person is assessed—the money from the assessment of persons—and the money from the voluntary offerings brought into the house of the LORD, 5 let the priests receive from each of the donors; and let them repair the house wherever any need of repairs is discovered.” 6 But by the twenty-third year of King Jehoash the priests had made no repairs on the house. 7 Therefore King Jehoash summoned the priest Jehoiada with the other priests and said to them, “Why are you not repairing the house? Now therefore do not accept any more money from your donors but hand it over for the repair of the house.” 8 So the priests agreed that they would neither accept more money from the people nor repair the house.

2Kings 12:9   Then the priest Jehoiada took a chest, made a hole in its lid, and set it beside the altar on the right side as one entered the house of the LORD; the priests who guarded the threshold put in it all the money that was brought into the house of the LORD. 10 Whenever they saw that there was a great deal of money in the chest, the king’s secretary and the high priest went up, counted the money that was found in the house of the LORD, and tied it up in bags. 11 They would give the money that was weighed out into the hands of the workers who had the oversight of the house of the LORD; then they paid it out to the carpenters and the builders who worked on the house of the LORD, 12 to the masons and the stonecutters, as well as to buy timber and quarried stone for making repairs on the house of the LORD, as well as for any outlay for repairs of the house. 13 But for the house of the LORD no basins of silver, snuffers, bowls, trumpets, or any vessels of gold, or of silver, were made from the money that was brought into the house of the LORD, 14 for that was given to the workers who were repairing the house of the LORD with it. 15 They did not ask an accounting from those into whose hand they delivered the money to pay out to the workers, for they dealt honestly. 16 The money from the guilt offerings and the money from the sin offerings was not brought into the house of the LORD; it belonged to the priests.

Observation:

The temple in Jerusalem was in complete disrepair. A woman had come into the community and led the priests and leadership astray, encouraging them to worship Baal. This had led to disregard for God’s temple and it had slowly fallen into ruin. Now, as king Jehoash brought the priests together, he tried to encourage them, and they returned to the work and service of God’s house. The church leaders were committed and gave out of their own resources to help repair the damage but it was far too great just for them. The priests were left struggling, trying to make ends meet while at the same time, repairing the temple.  

By this time, however, a number of craftsmen and leaders had also returned to God. The king was able to step in and set up a new system in which the priests would be cared for, and reliable laypersons would take responsibility for the major repairs which had to be made on the temple. It was a new day and the commitment to serve God had spread and now, honest workers did all they could to repair God’s house. This was accomplished by the newly generous offerings of the people of God. The temple was rebuilt and provision made for the priests. 

Application:

There is a connection in this story to spiritual growth, a spirit of generosity, and an honest character. This does not happen overnight, but over time. We don’t know how long the time is in the story from the beginning to the twenty-third year, but we can imagine that it was over quite an extended period of time. The people of God had to awaken to the fact that they had gone astray and had not faithfully followed him. Their leader helped them to understand this truth but nothing happened overnight. It was a long and painstaking process leaving one way to measure their progress, and this, in relation to their offerings. 

Today, there are many folks concerned about the state of the church. This is especially true in the United States. What would happen if we compared a snapshot of giving and then considered what that meant for the state of the church? The following are giving statistics from 2018, found at: https://nonprofitssource.com/online-giving-statistics/

For worshippers in the United States: 

  • 8/10 people who give to churches have zero credit debt.
  • Tithers make up only 10-25 percent of a normal congregation.
  • Only 5% tithe, and 80% of Americans only give 2% of their income.
  • Christians are giving at 2.5% of income; during the Great Depression it was 3.3%.
  • Only 3-5% of Americans who give to their local church do so through regular tithing.
  • When surveyed, 17% of Americans state that they regularly tithe.
  • The average giving by adults who attend US Protestant churches is about $17 a week.
  • 37% of regular church attendees and Evangelicals don’t give money to church.
  • 17% of American families have reduced the amount that they give to their local church.
  • 7% of church goers have dropped regular giving by 20% or more.
  • About 10 million tithers in the US donate $50 billion yearly to church & non-profits.
  • 77% of those who tithe give 11%–20% or more of their income, far more than the baseline of 10%.
  • 7 out of 10 tithers do so based on their gross and not their net income.

I think what we find is a widening gap. Those who may have been giving somewhere in the middle range are now giving less. Those who are committed to tithing and to offerings have an attitude of generosity, giving far more than the 10% tithe, and the majority of tithers give on their gross income. 

There are some folks in the middle who want people to believe that they tithe. Maybe they want us to believe that they are doing well and growing spiritually. There is an appearance of spirituality but there may be little action behind it. This goes directly to the question of character. When the workers had grown and developed spiritually they could be trusted with the finances. They didn’t even need to give an accounting because they were honest in all that they did. 

This isn’t about money, nor are my thoughts about the church needing money. This is, however, about our hearts for where our money is — that’s where our heart will be as well. I know that many are concerned about the management of their own personal finances and find themselves too far in debt and feel that they can’t tithe. Isn’t it odd that 80% of all tithers have no credit card debt? God tells us to test him on this principle of tithing. Could it be that when we give generously to the Lord that we learn lessons on financial management and discipline that help us in every sphere of our lives? I think it also has something to do with learning complete dependence upon the Lord, learning to trust God with our lives. It’s far too easy to trust our credit cards! When we do, we miss out on the hand of God that is at work in the world. 

Our offerings become a barometer on our heart. If we are struggling with our giving, maybe we need to ask the Lord to examine our heart. Then, test the Lord in this and step out in faith. The result may just be a deeper walk with Jesus Christ. 

Prayer:

Lord, may your spirit of generosity be reflected in my life. Amen. 

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