I’ve just been reading in Leviticus about all the offerings the Israelites were to offer to God and what (finally) struck me is that in every case, they use the word “offering.” It might have been a peace offering or a guilt offering or some other kind of offering, but they were always an “offering.” They may have been required offerings, but they were still offerings. That is, the Lord required these offerings as a way for them to receive forgiveness (albeit temporary forgiveness) for their sins or show their devotion to Him. And yet, they are called “offerings.”

What began to sink in was the attitude of humility that the word “offering” carries with it. An offering is something given in hopes that it will be accepted – the husband-to-be offers his hand in marriage to the woman in hopes that she will say “yes” or an offending co-worker brings a cup of coffee or donut in hopes that relationships can be restored and peace can returned to the office. An apology is an offering – it is given in humility and in the hopes that it will be accepted. The attitude of the heart in each case is humility and hopefulness. Of course with hopefulness there is anticipation of good things to come.

When I read in Leviticus 5 that a person is to bring a lamb or a goat, but if he cannot afford that he can bring two young doves or pigeons, and if he cannot afford that he is to bring a tenth of an ephah of fine flour, I am ashamed to admit that the thought that ran across my brain was “who’s to say what he can afford?” Immediately the Lord whispered in my ear – “It’s a heart issue.” In other words, our hearts ought to be so devoted to God and so sorry for our sin that we desire to bring the very best and most we can. It’s not a “how little can we get away with to make up for our sins?” Rather, it’s how much can I offer to the Lord to show Him how sorry I am and how much I love Him?

And that brought me to the question – “How do you view your offerings?” Are they obligations, or are they opportunities to express your love to God? Do you give them as a part of your Sunday morning routine, or with an attitude of humility? When you write out your check or search for the money in your wallet, is it just something you do out of duty, or is an act of worship? Don’t get me wrong. Obedience is a good thing. Bring your tithes into the storehouse (Malachi 3:10). But obedience that is not done with the right heart is its own form of rebellion. Think of the child who spits out his apology in obedience to his parent’s command. The child was being “obedient”, but not making a sincere offering from his heart. No, in his heart there was rebellion – “I’ll say I’m sorry, but I won’t mean it. So there!”

I doubt that you make your offerings with the same blatant attitude as that child, but I know that there are times when I unthinkingly offend God by giving my offerings with a heart that isn’t fully “in the moment” (that is, I’m not even thinking about it, I’m just on autopilot) or has a hidden agenda of expectations from God instead of humble anticipation of His acceptance of my offer. When we are “in the moment” and our attitude is humble anticipation, imagine the joy we can receive when we know that our offer has been accepted!

Scripture teaches that God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). That doesn’t mean He loves the giver who is a cheerful person. That means he loves it when we give with a cheerful attitude – and that means we are in the moment – purposefully thinking about what we’re doing and doing it cheerfully.

Lord, forgive me for all the times I have spent the offering time on Sunday morning reading the bulletin instead of making my offering to You in humility and joy. Forgive me for the times I write out my check out of obligation instead of with joyful anticipation of bringing joy to the One I love the most.

The Offering God Gave
Notice that it was in this same attitude that God gave His offering – with His whole heart and in humble anticipation of the joy to come when His offering would be accepted by men and women. That offering, of course, was His Son Jesus, whom God gave as the sacrificial lamb – the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). Do you see that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament system of sacrifices and offerings? That He is our sacrificial lamb, offered once for all?

Unlike the other high priests, [Jesus] does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.
                Hebrews 7:27 (NIV)

The question is “will you accept His offering?” It is an offering consistent with those we’ve read about in Leviticus, but of such a higher degree that it issues in a new covenant. The new covenant holds the promise of an eternal inheritance – life forever more – even for those who have not kept the old covenant.

The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance – now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
                Hebrews 9:13-15 (NIV)

Should you have any doubt, let me be clear. God is calling you. He is calling you to serve the living God. He is calling you in love.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
                1 John 4:9-10 (NIV)

Will you accept his offering? What will you offer back to him in response?

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