A church in north China's Shanxi Province hosted a live television interview about offering.
On the evening of April 28, Yaodu District Church in Linfen City, Shanxi Province held an online interview titled "Talks by Pastor’s Desk: Offering Is the Path to God’s Blessing".
During the interviews, four pastoral co-workers focused on the theme of "Blessing and Offering", sharing over the course of five different sessions covering the topics "What Is Blessing", "Discussion on Being Blessed", "Understanding of Offering at Different Life Stages", "Tithing" and " Wholehearted Devotion”.
What Is Blessing
Opening by talking about the "blessing" in daily life, Pastor Wang Shuai led guests to discuss the meaning of God’s blessing.
Talking about "blessing/good fortune" in the context of the traditional Chinese culture, Rev. Huang Hailin first explained the connection between blessings and personal achievements in traditional concepts. Next, Deacon Li brought up his own opinions about attaining blessings by relying on human beings or relying on God. Based on the life on earth and the eternal life in the future, Pastor Tian Pengshuai compared the two ways of pursuing blessings adopted by non-Christians who "live in the present" and the Christians who "look for eternity".
Pastor Huang briefly summarized the views of these co-workers that in the secular concept, in pursuit of blessings people often paid more attention to the results rather than the pathway to obtain blessings. While, in faith, the primary principle of Christians' pursuit of blessings would be through the right path of offering.
Deacon Li and Pastor Wang Shuai advised that blessing in Christ not only referred to "receiving from God", but also "offering and giving back to God". When our focus shifts from ourselves to God, considering offering and giving to God as being blessed, we experience the beauty and wonder of our intimacy with Him, which at the same time would enrich and mature our own lives. Therefore, giving is an important way, as Christians, to express our gratitude and witness God’s blessings.
Discussion on Being Blessed
As it went deeper into the topic, Wang invited four believers who served in grassroots positions such as church fellowship, choir, and logistics, for onsite interviews to learn about their views on serving and offering.
In the video interviews, a female believer named Li Yanli, who had been dedicated to the renovation and construction of the church for many years, believed that "offering was righteousness". Another female believer called Wei Bin, who came from a pastoral family and inherited the family tradition of serving, perceived that "they could experience God’s calling and grow their knowledge about Him through offerings." A male believer Liu Xiaochun, who worked heartily in the church and served at the grassroots level, thought that “his life grew and matured in devotion”. A female believer Wang Shenghua, who served in the choir, was convinced that “everything she had was given to her by God, so giving was a way of repaying God."
Their answers were different from one another since their religious experience and serving positions varied. However, all the staff members mentioned an important point in their interviews, that was, being blessed by giving. Furthermore, they all agreed that the more you served, the more you find yourself indebted to God.
Understanding of Offering at Different Life Stages
Based on the previous video interviews, the host Pastor Wang Shuai introduced the theme of the third session "The Understanding of Offering at Different Life Stages”.
In regard to this topic, Rev. Huang first proposed that with the continuous growth of personal spiritual life, Christians should continue to deepen their understanding of offering and their relationship with God, which would bring more different expressions of faith. The two basic elements of giving are gratitude and faith.
Next, Deacon Li added that offering was also a manifestation of the power of faith. Later, he used the example of Jacob's vow to God at Bethel to show that believers were often weak when it came to offering, and that they considered it to be a burden. Such weakness was related to their faith in life.
Li indicated that God delighted in offerings, so He did not judge by the size of sacrifices, nor did He despise man’s weakness before Him. Therefore, Christians needed to know that we were very limited before God, but His love and compassion towards them were unlimited. Thus, how much they gave didn’t matter, but their willingness mattered. In giving, they got to know both God and ourselves better, which would help them receive greater blessings.
Afterwards, Pastor Tian compared the different attitudes of the Israelites towards their own houses and the holy temples in the Old Testament, to the bearings of many dedicated believers in the church today, with which he explained the different stances towards giving in the different stages of spiritual life.
In order to help believers sort out the teachings on offering in the Bible, Rev. Huang introduced the development and evolution of giving according to the timeline of the biblical records.
In the Old Testament, offerings were mainly manifested in the form of sacrifices. Whether it was an animal or a grain sacrifice, each one required actual material offerings. However, after the return of the Israelites from captivity, many prophets called for the reconstruction of the temple as an offering, which was the climax of the evolution of offerings. Later in the New Testament era, although there was no clear requirement, the Lord Jesus highly valued believers’ offerings. The poor widow who took out two small brass coins and the child who offered five barley loaves and two fish both received praise before Jesus. In the days of the apostles, Paul also encouraged believers to be willing to give to God. Nowadays, as we sacrifice, we would love the church even more and also be more intimately connected with God in love and faith.
As for many believers' incomplete understanding of offerings, these pastors reminded us that offerings were not to fill what was lacking by God or the church but to experience God's actions more deeply through them. Thereinafter, it was very important to give offerings willingly to the Lord.
In addition, the pastors also advised believers not to regard offerings as charity to God, or as a bargaining chip in exchange for His grace.
These pastors pointed out that tithing was taught in the Bible as the share we should pay, and an expression of our care for the church. Many Christians often had a misunderstanding of giving, thinking that when the church was asking for money when bringing up "tithing". In fact, the original intention of giving was to help believers find a way to respond to the Lord’s grace. In Malachi 3:10, we see that God also cares about our weaknesses, so he encouraged us to try tithing, believing that God would " throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so many blessing onto us."
In the final session, three full-time evangelists Huang, Wang, and Tian respectively shared their correct understanding and exhortation on wholehearted devotion based on how they were called to serve and started their spiritual journey.
Many laymen were very envious of the full-time pastors in the church, thinking that only being them could be considered entirely serving God. As to this viewpoint, the three full-time pastors suggested that every pastor needed to go through many battles against weakness when embarking on the path of full-time service. However, as the path of service went further and deeper, they felt more comforted and uplifted in serving.
Nevertheless, wholehearted devotion didn’t just mean giving up everything and only serving in ministry full time. Every layman could also devote whole-heartedly to his own work and life by actively obeying God’s will, living out Christ’s life of giving himself for us, and highlighting Christ’s passion and grace, which could all become a wholehearted devotion.
At the end of the live broadcast, summarizing the entirety of the interviews, Wang stressed that offering did not mean simply giving. As believers' spiritual life continues to grow, they would have more burdens for the church, which would be naturally followed by their willingness to offer. As they continued to give, they accumulate wealth for the blessing of eternal life. Therefore, an offering was the path to blessing. No matter what stage of life they were at, they should do their best to devote themselves and restore a relationship of love and faith with God in His grace. God didn’t mind how much they gave but cared more about their heart of giving.
- Translated by Shuya Wang