Giving As Worship

Giving gifts to the gods has always been considered an act of worship.  But how does one give to God, who in the words of Paul in describing the Creator and the Lord of heaven and earth, "dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is he served by men's hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he himself giveth to all life, and breath, and all things" (Acts 17:24-25)? In church, on the first day of the week, we give when we place our contribution in the collection plate (1 Corinthians 16:2).  

 Not all of our giving is worship.  When we personally give to the poor it is called almsgiving. Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) gives the Christian view on this aspect of our religious righteousness.  Christ points out we must avoid giving to others "to be seen of men (6:1)."  In other words, "But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth" (6:3).  We hear little, if any, because Christians exercise their giving in secret and thus lay up our treasures in Heaven.

 Back to our church contribution, when we place our individual contribution in the collection basket, plate, or what have you - it is no longer ours, it is the Lord's.  It is to be used to carry out the work and worship of the Lord's church - period.  It has become holy or set apart for the purpose of supporting the mission of the congregation.  It should NOT be necessary to point out the basic function of the church is to worship God, study His word the Bible, and preach and teach the Gospel of Christ to a lost and dying world!  Although entertainment seems to be the central function of too many churches today - Christ did NOT die on the cross to entertain anyone. 

 The offering of a portion of our prosperity to God goes back to Cain and Abel (Gen 4:3-5).  It is also the first case of acceptable and unacceptable worship in God's sight.  However, it is in Abraham that we first have an amount specified (Genesis 14:17-20).  On the way home after rescuing Lot, Abraham stops at Salem (later Jerusalem) to visit Melchizedek king and priest of the most high God and gives tithes (10%) of the spoils. 

 The same amount is exemplified in Jacob or Israel (Genesis 28).  Jacob is encamped at Bethel where he has the vision of Jacob's Ladder (vs 12), and makes a vow unto Jehovah.  The vow states, "If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, 21 So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God:  22 And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee" (vs 20-22). 

 Giving a tenth is called tithing and was incorporated in the Law of Moses (Leviticus 27).  Under the Gospel, no specific amount is mentioned.  However in Christ, under a better covenant, based on better promises, can we do less?

 Dale I. Royal, Elk City OK