Seven times a year, over the course of three Festival seasons, we are blessed with the privilege of coming before God on His Holy Days and presenting Him with a gift—an offering. And often, we give additional monetary offerings to God throughout the year. As God’s people, we realize that He commands us to give tithes and offerings (Deuteronomy 16:16–17). In fact, God makes clear that if we are unfaithful in giving, we are actually “robbing” Him (Malachi 3:8). Yet, if we are not careful, it is easy to become indifferent concerning God’s commanded offerings—simply “going through the motions” and failing to see those offerings for what they are. What are some things we can do in order to give truly godly offerings—in particular, Holy Day offerings?
Give from the Heart
Giving offerings in a truly godly way requires giving wholeheartedly. God wants us to give and to obey Him from the heart (Romans 6:17). In fact, God states that He “loves a cheerful giver” who gives “as he purposes in his heart” (2 Corinthians 9:7). God does not want us to give just because we feel we have to or begrudgingly. God wants us to give offerings to Him because we want to, and He wants us to do this “with [our] might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).
The example of the “widow’s mite” highlights a woman who, although poor, truly gave from her heart (Luke 21:1–4). This woman may have given very little in comparison to the offerings of others, but Christ noted that “she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had” (v. 4). Recall, too, how God invited the ancient Israelites to give offerings for the creation of the Tabernacle: “Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to the Lord: gold, silver, and bronze…” (Exodus 35:5). We later read that the Israelites were so moved by the opportunity that they gave far beyond what was needed and had to be restrained from giving more (Exodus 36:6–7)! It is hard not to imagine that God was delighted with their heartfelt response. Do we see giving an offering as an opportunity to delight God and to demonstrate that we care about the things He cares about? Giving offerings is one of those special actions that God loves to see us take—especially when we give from the heart!
Remember: It Belongs to God Anyway
How do we make sure we always give cheerfully and in a heartfelt way? How can we avoid falling prey to Satan’s “fiery darts” of greed and feeling forced to give? Our own context and perspective are vital in making this happen. As we prepare our offerings, we can remind ourselves of whose money this is in the first place. The Bible warns us about being deceived regarding our blessings, and we should instead recall that “Every good gift and every perfect gift” is from God (James 1:16–17). The money, the resources—everything we have is a gift from Almighty God! Everything belongs to God, and the things we enjoy actually represent a portion of His own possessions.
From what God gives to us, He expects only a small portion in return. After all, if tithes and offerings were not God’s to begin with, how could we rob Him (Malachi 3:8)? It is only possible to rob someone if he or she owns the item in question. When we remember that our tithes and offerings were never ours to begin with—they have belonged to God from the start—it is easier to set our minds upon giving them back to Him. When we give an offering, we are returning to God a fraction of the blessings He has poured out on us.
Praise and Honor God!
Tithes are a commanded amount—ten percent—of our increase (cf. Genesis 28:22). However, offerings are different. With offerings, God directs each of us to “give as he is able” and “according to the blessing of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 16:17). Although God does command offerings to be given, especially on the annual Holy Days, the amount of the offering is a personal decision. In order to determine the amount of our offerings, God wants us first to consider our blessings: How much are we able to give, and how has He blessed us lately? As we consider these questions, we should also remember that blessings come in many different forms—including monetary blessings, to be sure, but also spiritual blessings, blessings of friends and family, blessings of safety, healing, and God-given endurance, blessings of being released from trials, and the blessing of being a firstfruit. The list goes on and on. God’s people, no matter their financial situation, experience an abundance of blessings that must be considered as they plan their Holy Day offerings.
Ultimately, offerings are a powerful way to show praise and honor to the great God (Jeremiah 17:26). Yes, God and His Church certainly use our monetary offerings to do God’s Work. But if God can create bread from stones (Matthew 4:3), He can, obviously, create money from stones as well. The money itself is far less important to God than the heart and attitude that motivate our offerings. The monetary amount is simply a reflection of our heart. A stingy offering when we have abundant resources shows God our hesitance and reluctance to commit to and honor Him. However, a generous offering that truly reflects our many blessings is indeed an act of honor and praise to God and something He loves to see us give!
Prepare and Pray
With Holy Day offerings, we are always able to plan ahead. With the Holy Day calendar provided by the Church, we can know years in advance the dates of these special days. Because of this, none of us should ever be caught off guard by Holy Day offerings. We should take care to prepare for them well in advance.
One way to prepare for Holy Day offerings is to set aside a monetary amount from each paycheck we receive, based on the total amount we have in mind for our offerings. Smaller amounts of money set aside over weeks and months add up over time, avoiding the circumstance of burdening our budget with a large donation for which we are unprepared. The New International Version translates Proverbs 4:26 in the following, helpful way: “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.” Planning our offerings and steadfastly setting aside small sums from each paycheck enables us to consistently give more abundant offerings to God than we otherwise would.
Another essential action to take in preparation for Holy Day offerings is to pray about them throughout the year. As we pray, we should ask God to give us the ability and the resources to honor and give to Him according to how He has blessed us. We should also pray about our own attitudes and motivation. We need to pray that God will help us desire, even more wholeheartedly, to give offerings of praise and honor to Him.
Holy Day offerings are a wonderful opportunity to give a special, heartfelt gift to Almighty God—the One responsible for calling us and giving us His precious truth! For those who have been in God’s Church for years and who have given dozens of Holy Day offerings, this privilege can easily become a rote or thoughtless habit if we are not careful. God wants us to give truly godly offerings to Him every time we give. As we approach another Festival season, let us all pray about and prepare for this upcoming opportunity to give truly godly offerings!