by Elizabeth de Barros
And make its plates and dishes of pure gold, as well as its pitchers and bowls for the pouring out of offerings.
As a kid, I used to think offerings were what got dropped down the thin slot of the long round metal poor box that stood at the rear of the church. Strange. Not strange that I actually believed my nickels traveled underground all the way to India or China, but strange that my only contact to the needy world was through a bronze canister.
Actually, things haven’t changed much. Packaging and ad hooks might be slicker, with opportunities abounding all around, but cold formality and distance still exists. As a nation, almsgiving is still something done for those less fortunate, materially speaking. In the church, even more so. But that is not where it should begin and end.
My understanding of offerings has taken a long time to become what it is today. In fact, I’m just beginning to learn. Offerings used to be whatever money I had left over after I “paid my tithe.” My heart may have been sincere, but squeezed so hard by the “shoulds” and the “oughts” that I was never fully convinced I was giving enough. Perfunctory? Maybe. God knows the dividing line. All I know is that it was hardly a blessing to God or me. How do I know? The answer’s easy — there was very little cheer.
Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
-2 Corinthians 9:7
But it’s different now. I don’t know how it happened or exactly when, but somewhere between the conflict and the yearning, my heart gave way to spilling over. Now I aim to live my life from the standpoint of pouring out to whomever, wherever. I’ve thrown out the internal measurements and weights, and just want to pour out whatever I’ve got. The only caveat is to make sure that what I’m offering is what God would have me give. Flesh counts for nothing.
How does it happen?
By first acknowledging how empty I am without Him. Then I cup the hands of my heart into the shape of a bowl and ask Him to fill me with Himself — for the pouring out of offerings.